Taglines: Sometimes one dream is enough to light up the whole sky.
In a 1950’s mining town called Coalwood, Homer Hickam is a kid with only one future in sight, to work in the local coal mine like his father. However in October 1957, everything changes when the first artificial satellite, Sputnik goes into orbit. With that event, Homer becomes inspired to learn how to build rockets.
With his friends and the local nerd, Homer sets to do just that by trial and a lot of error. Unfortunately, most of the town and especially Homer’s father thinks that they are wasting their time. Only one teacher in the high school understands their efforts and lets them know that they could become contenders in the national science fair with college scholarships being the prize. Now the gang must learn to perfect their craft and overcome the many problems facing them as they shoot for the stars.
October Sky is a 1999 American biographical film directed by Joe Johnston, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Chris Owen, and Laura Dern. It is based on the true story of Homer H. Hickam, Jr., a coal miner’s son who was inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 to take up rocketry against his father’s wishes and eventually became a NASA engineer.
Most of the film was shot in rural East Tennessee, including Oliver Springs, Harriman and Kingston in Morgan and Roane counties. The movie received a positive critical reception and is still celebrated in the regions of its setting and filming.
October Sky is an anagram of Rocket Boys, the title of the 1998 book upon which the movie is based. It is also used in a period radio broadcast describing Sputnik 1 as it crossed the “October sky”. Homer Hickam stated that “Universal Studios marketing people got involved and they just had to change the title because, according to their research, women over thirty would never see a movie titled Rocket Boys” so Universal Pictures changed the title to be more inviting to a wider audience. The book was later re-released with the name in order to capitalize on interest in the movie.
October Sky (1999)
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Laura Dern, Chris Owen, William Lee Scott, Chad Lindberg, Natalie Canerday, Scott Thomas, Elya Baskin, Kaili Hollister
Screenplay by: Lewis Colick
Production Design by: Barry Robison
Cinematography by: Fred Murphy
Film Editing by: Robert Dalva
Costume Design by: Betsy Cox
Set Decoration by: Chris L. Spellman
Art Direction by: Tony Fanning
Music by: Mark Isham
MPAA Rating: PG for language, brief teen sensuality and alcohol use, and for some thematic elements.
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: February 19, 1999