Schwing! How Wayne’s World went from an SNL skit to a cultural phenomenon

Not long before his death in November 1991, ailing Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was visited at home in Kensington by his curly-haired bandmate Brian May. The guitarist had brought with him a VHS tape he’d been sent by Saturday Night Live comedian Mike Myers, who was hoping to get approval to use their music in his forthcoming film debut Wayne’s World. The pair sat and watched the tape together, dissolving into fits of laughter at the sight of five young men squeezed into a powder blue AMC Pacer headbanging their way through their operatic 1975 single “Bohemian Rhapsody”. “He loved it,” May told Myers and the rest of the Wayne’s World cast during an episode of Josh Gad’s Reunited Apart in 2020. “He just laughed and laughed. He was very weak, but he just smiled and laughed. How wonderful is that?”

Having received Mercury’s seal of approval, Wayne’s World arrived in US cinemas the following Valentine’s Day, 30 years ago tomorrow, and was an immediate hit. It went straight in at number one at the box office, eventually making over $183m globally against its $20m budget, and it remains the highest-grossing film ever to be made off the back of a Saturday Night Live sketch. Nobody was more surprised at this gargantuan success than the people who made it. “Honestly, we were just hoping it would get a five-theatre release,” recalls director Penelope Spheeris, down the line from her home in Laurel Canyon. “It was a total shock that it did as well as it did on the first weekend, and then the weekends after that, and then around the world. It was lightning in a bottle. We didn’t try to make a cultural phenomenon. We just did it.”

Continue reading at The Independent.