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Pets on film

Disney’s ”Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” spent a year in the editing room before its release

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In dog-eat-dog Hollywood, Disney’s Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey should have had a leg up. But the film, which has grossed $16 million since its Feb. 12 release, spent a year in the editing room, with two sets of stars and countless writers getting their paws on the project. ”It may be the first movie that was rewritten after it was completed,” says Bound‘s final — and uncredited — screenwriter, Jonathan Roberts.

The finished version features the voices of Michael J. Fox, Sally Field, and Don Ameche as the three plucky house pets. But you almost heard Jon Cryer, Annie Potts, and Donald Sutherland — all of whom recorded a full soundtrack back in March 1992. What happened to that version? Looped in one day, with Cryer suffering from a bad head cold (”I felt a little clunky,” the actor admits), the cut seems to have been aimed only at showing Disney the picture’s potential.

”Once we had that screening,” says director Duwayne Dunham, ”the studio said, ‘Let’s figure out how to do this.”’ Disney then opened up its wallet and hired Fox and company. The script, meanwhile, underwent a make-over — Saturday Night Live writers were trucked in to toss out one-liners while watching a rough cut with the sound off. Finally, the producers brought in Roberts (The Sure Thing) to, in his words, ”punch up the comedy and the pathos.”

Bound‘s box office is spurring a four-legged boom. Next fall’s Look Who’s Talking 3 (John Travolta and Kirstie Alley) will have doggy dialogue instead of baby babble.