For the song sometimes known as “Pretty Woman”, see Oh, Pretty Woman. For the song in the musical Sweeney Todd, see Pretty Women.
Pretty Woman is a 1990 romantic comedy film. Written by J.F. Lawton and directed by Garry Marshall, the film features Richard Gere, Julia Roberts and Hector Elizondo. Pretty Woman’s plot centers on down-on-her-luck Hollywood prostitute Vivian Ward who is hired by a wealthy businessman, Edward Lewis, to be his escort for several business and social functions, and their developing relationship over the course of Vivian’s week long stay with him.
Originally intended to be a dark drama about prostitution in New York, the film was reconceptualized into a romantic comedy with a broader budget. The film was hugely successful: it became one of 1990’s highest grossing films, and today is one of the most financially successful entries in the romantic comedy genre, with an estimated gross of $463.4 million USD.[1] The film also received critical praise, particularly for Roberts’s performance, for which she received a Golden Globe Award for her role and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. In addition, screenwriter J.F. Lawton was nominated for a Writers Guild Award and a BAFTA Award. The film was followed by a string of similar romantic comedies, including Runaway Bride (1999), which re-united Gere and Roberts under the direction of Garry Marshall once again.

Directed by Garry Marshall
Produced by Laura Ziskin
Written by J.F. Lawton
Starring Richard Gere
Julia Roberts
Héctor Elizondo
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Charles Minsky
Editing by Raja Gosnell
Priscilla Nedd
Distributed by Touchstone Pictures
Release date(s) March 23, 1990
Running time 119 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14 million
Gross revenue $463,407,268

Edward Lewis (Richard Gere), a successful businessman and “corporate raider”, takes a detour on Hollywood Boulevard to ask for directions. Receiving little help, he encounters a beautiful prostitute named Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) who is willing to assist him in getting to his destination.
The morning after, Edward hires Vivian to stay with him for a week as an escort for social events. Vivian advises him that it “will cost him,” and he agrees to give her $3,000 and access to his credit cards. Vivian then goes shopping on Rodeo Drive, only to be snubbed by saleswomen who disdain her because of her immodest clothing. Initially, hotel manager Bernard Thompson (Hector Elizondo) is also somewhat taken aback. But he relents and decides to help her buy a dress, even coaching her on dinner etiquette. Edward returns and is visibly amazed by Vivian’s transformation. The business dinner does not end well, and Edward is preoccupied with the deal afterward. The next morning, Vivian tells Edward about the snubbing that took place the day before. Edward takes Vivian on a shopping spree. Vivian returns to the same shop that had snubbed her, telling the salesgirls they had made a big mistake.
The following day, Edward takes Vivian to a polo match where he is interested in networking for his business deal. While Vivian chats with David Morse, the grandson of the man involved in Edward’s latest deal, Philip Stuckey (Edward’s attorney) wonders if she is a spy. Edward re-assures him by telling him how they met, and Philip (Jason Alexander) then approaches Vivian and offers to hire her once she is finished with Edward, inadvertently insulting her. When they return to the hotel, she is furious with Edward for telling Phillip about her. She plans to leave, but he apologizes and persuades her to see out the week. Edward leaves work early the next day and takes a breath-taking Vivian on a date to the opera in San Francisco in his private jet. She is clearly moved by the opera. While playing chess with Edward after returning, Vivian convinces him to take the next day off. They spend the entire day together, and then make love, in a personal rather than professional way. Just before she falls asleep, Vivian admits that she’s in love with Edward. Over breakfast, Edward offers to put Vivian up in an apartment so he can continue seeing her. She feels insulted and says this is not the “fairy tale” she wants. He then goes off to work without resolving the situation. Vivian’s friend, Kit De Luca (Laura San Giacomo), comes to the hotel and realizes that Vivian is in love with Edward.

Edward meets with Mr. Morse, about to close the deal, and changes his mind at the last minute. His time with Vivian has shown him another way of living and working, taking time off and enjoying activities for which he initially had little time. As a result, his strong interest towards his business is put aside. He decides that he would rather help Morse than take over his company. Furious, Philip goes to the hotel to confront Edward, but only finds Vivian there. He blames her for changing Edward and tries to rape her. Edward arrives in time to stop Philip, angrily ordering him to leave the hotel room. Edward tends to Vivian and tries to convince her to stay with him because she wants to, not because he’s paying her. She refuses once again and returns to the apartment she shares with Kit, preparing to leave for San Francisco to earn a G.E.D. in the hopes of a better life. Edward gets into the car with the chauffeur that took her home. Instead of going to the airport, he goes to her apartment. He climbs up the fire escape, despite his fear of heights, with a rose clutched between his teeth, to woo her. His leaping from the white limousine, and then climbing the outside ladder and steps, is a visual urban metaphor for the knight on white horse rescuing the “princess” from the tower, a childhood fantasy Vivian told him about. The film ends as the two of them kiss on the fire escape.

Pretty Woman was initially conceived to be a dark drama about prostitution in New York in the late 1980s.[2] The relationship between Vivian and Edward also originally harboured controversial themes, including the concept of having Vivian addicted to drugs; part of the deal was that she had to stay off cocaine for a week, because she needed the money to go to Disneyland. Edward eventually throws her out of his car and drives off. The movie was scripted to end with Vivian and her prostitute friend on the bus to Disneyland.[2] These traits, considered by producer Laura Ziskin to be detrimental to the otherwise sympathetic portrayal of her, were removed or incorporated into the character of Vivian’s friend, Kit. These “cut scenes” have been found in public view, and some were included on the DVD released on the film’s 15th anniversary.[2] One such scene has Vivian offering Edward, “I could just pop ya good and be on my way”, indicating a lack of interest in “pillow talk”. In another, she is confronted by drug dealers outside The Blue Banana, and rescued by Edward and Darryl.
Pretty Woman bears striking resemblances to Pygmalion myths: particularly George Bernard Shaw’s play of the same name, which also formed the basis for the Broadway musical My Fair Lady. It was then-Disney Studio President Jeffrey Katzenberg who insisted the film should be re-written as a modern-day fairy tale with qualities of a love story, as opposed to being the dark drama it was originally developed as. It was pitched to Touchstone Pictures and re-written as a romantic comedy. The original script was titled $3,000, however this title was changed because executives at Touchtone thought it sounded like a title for a Science Fiction film.[3] It also has unconfirmed references to That Touch of Mink, starring Doris Day and Cary Grant.

Casting of Pretty Woman was a rather lengthy process. Marshall had initially considered Christopher Reeve for the role of Lewis, and Al Pacino turned it down.[4] Pacino went as far as doing a casting reading with Roberts before turning the leading role down.[5] Gere agreed to the project. Reportedly, Gere started off much more active in his role, but Garry Marshall took him aside and said “No, no, no. Richard. In this movie, one of you moves and one of you does not. Guess which one you are?”[citation needed] Julia Roberts was not the first-choice for the role of Vivian, and was not wanted by Disney. Many other actresses were considered at the time. Marshall originally envisioned Karen Allen for the role. When she declined, it went to many better-known actresses of the time including Molly Ringwald, who turned it down because she felt uncomfortable with the content in the script, and did not like the idea of playing a prostitute. She has since stated in several interviews that she regrets turning the role down. Winona Ryder, a popular box-office draw at the time, was considered, and auditioned, but turned down because Marshall felt she was “too young”. Jennifer Connelly was also dismissed for the same reason.[2]
Meg Ryan, who was a top choice of Marshall’s, turned it down. According to a note written by Marshall, Mary Steenburgen was the first choice to play Vivian Ward. Michelle Pfeiffer turned the role down as well, because she did not like the “tone” of the script.[6] Daryl Hannah was also considered, but turned the role down because she believed it was “degrading to women”.[6] Valeria Golino also turned it down as she did not think the movie could work with her thick Italian accent. Jennifer Jason Leigh had auditioned for the part, but later decided not to do the movie after she read the script because she felt it was sexist.[7] When all the other actresses turned down the role, 21-year-old Julia Roberts, who was relatively unknown at the time, with the exception of her Oscar nominated performance in the film Steel Magnolias (1989), won the role of Vivian. Her performance made Roberts a star.

Pretty Woman’s budget was not limited, therefore producers could acquire as many locations as possible for shooting on the films estimated budget of $14 million.[2] The majority of the film was shot in Los Angeles, California, specifically in Beverly Hills. The escargot restaurant called ‘The Voltaire’ was filmed at the Rex, now called Cicada. Filming of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel lobby interior was shot at the now demolished Ambassador Hotel. Filming commenced on July 24, 1989, but was immediately plagued by countless problems, including issues with space and time. This included Ferrari and Porsche, who had declined the product placement opportunity of the car Edward drove, because they did not want to be associated with soliciting prostitutes.[2] Lotus Cars UK saw the placement value with such a major feature film. The company supplied a Silver 1989.5 Esprit SE (which was later sold). This gamble paid off as Esprit sales tripled in 1990-1991.
The film’s primary shooting commenced on July 24, 1989. Shooting was a generally pleasurable and easy-going experience for those involved, the films budget was broad and the shooting schedule was not tight.[2] While shooting the scene where Vivian is lying down on the floor of Edward’s penthouse, watching I Love Lucy re-runs, in order to achieve a genuine laughter, Garry Marshall had to tickle Roberts’s feet (out of camera range) to get her to laugh so hysterically, which is featured in the film. During the scene where Roberts sings along to Prince in the bath tub sliding down and dunking her head under the bubbles, Roberts came up and opened her eyes and saw that everyone had left even the cameraman, who got the shot. Additionally, during the love-making scene between Roberts and Gere, Roberts got so nervous that a vein visibly popped out of her forehead, she also acquired hives, and calamine lotion was given to clear them until shooting could resume.[2] Filming was completed on October 18.

The film received four 1990 Golden Globe Awards nominations: Best Motion Picture, Best Actor for Richard Gere, Best Actress for Julia Roberts, and Best Supporting Actor for Hector Elizondo. The film also earned Roberts her second Academy Award nomination and her first nomination for Best Actress.
48th Golden Globe Awards
Best Actress – Julia Roberts
British Academy Film Awards
BAFTA Award for Best Film (Lost to Goodfellas)
63rd Academy Awards
Best Actress – Julia Roberts (Lost to Kathy Bates)
48th Golden Globe Awards
Best Motion Picture (Lost to Green Card)
Best Actor – Richard Gere (Lost to Gérard Depardieu)
Best Supporting Actor – Hector Elizondo (Lost to Bruce Davison)
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen – J.F. Lawton

Pretty Woman is noted for its musical selections and hugely successful soundtrack. The film features the song “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison, which inspired the movie’s title. Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1990. The soundtrack also features “King of Wishful Thinking” by Go West, “Show Me Your Soul” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, “No Explanation” by Peter Cetera, “Wild Women Do” by Natalie Cole and “Fallen” by Lauren Wood. The soundtrack went on to be certified three times platinum by the RIAA.[15]
The opera featured in the movie is La Traviata, which also served as inspiration for the plot of the movie. The highly dramatic aria fragment that is repeated in the movie is from the end of “Dammi tu forza!” (“Give me your strength!”) from the opera. The piano piece which Richard Gere’s character plays in the hotel lobby was composed by and performed by Gere. Julia Roberts sings the song “Kiss” by Prince while Richard Gere’s character is on the phone. Background music is composed by James Newton Howard. Entitled “He Sleeps/Love Theme”, this piano composition is inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s “Racing in the Street.”

The soundtrack was released on February 14, 1990[16][17] and featured snapshot of up-and-coming acts of the 90s and power-pop.
Track listing
1. “Wild Women Do” (performed by Natalie Cole)
2. “Fame ’90” (performed by David Bowie)
3. “King of Wishful Thinking” (performed by Go West)
4. “Tangled” (performed by Jane Wiedlin)
5. “It Must Have Been Love” (performed by Roxette)
6. “Life in Detail” (performed by Robert Palmer)
7. “No Explanation” (performed by Peter Cetera)
8. “Real Wild Child (Wild One)” (performed by Christopher Otcasek)
9. “Fallen” (performed by Lauren Wood)
10. “Oh, Pretty Woman” (performed by Roy Orbison)
11. “Show Me Your Soul” (performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers)