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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kenny Ortega
Produced by Michael Finnell
Screenplay by Bob Tzudiker
Noni White
Starring Christian Bale
Bill Pullman
David Moscow
Robert Duvall
Music by Alan Menken
Cinematography Andrew Laszlo
Edited by William Reynolds
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • April 10, 1992 (1992-04-10)
Running time
121 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $2,819,485

Newsies (released as The News Boys in the United Kingdom) is a 1992 American musical drama film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and directed by choreographer Kenny Ortega in his film directing debut. It is loosely based on the New York City Newsboys Strike of 1899 and features twelve original songs from composers Alan Menken and J.A.C. Redford. It stars Christian Bale, David Moscow, Bill Pullman, Robert Duvall and Ann-Margret. The film was an initial box office flop and received negative reviews at the time of its release, but later gained a cult following on home video.[2] It was later adapted into a successful Stage adaptation on Broadway that won two Tony Awards.


Seventeen-year-old Jack "Cowboy" Kelly (Christian Bale), is one of the hundreds of homeless and orphaned children who sell newspapers in New York City during the 1890s to support themselves. Jack and his fellow newsboys ("newsies" for short), work for Joseph Pulitzer selling his newspaper, the New York World, on the streets of Manhattan. The boys hit the streets of New York each morning, getting breakfast from nuns and heading toward the paper distribution center ("Carrying the Banner"). One morning at the distribution center, Jack meets David "Davey" Jacobs (David Moscow), who has joined the newsies along with his younger brother, Les. Jack notices that David is smart and well-spoken and that Les has a certain marketable cuteness to him, and he takes up a partnership with them in order to sell more papers and in turn earn more money.

Jack teaches the boys how to sell papers quickly and efficiently. David is shocked to learn that Jack makes up most of the headlines in order to make them more exciting, but Jack doesn't see it as a problem. When Jack has a run-in with Snyder on the street, he flees, along with David and Les, and they find themselves at Irving Hall, an entertainment hall owned by a friend of Jack's father, Medda Larkson (Ann-Margret), the vaudeville star who also performs in the hall. After leaving, they witness a particularly violent segment of the trolley strike, and in order to escape the rioting, David invites Jack to his house to meet his family, including his sister, Sarah, whom Jack becomes taken with. After declining to spend the night, Jack confesses his desire to escape to Santa Fe ("Santa Fe"). As newspaper tycoons Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst become more wealthy, their greed begins to spiral, and in order to out-do Hearst, Pulitzer (Robert Duvall) decides to inflate the newsies' paper prices overnight to avoid having to make other cutbacks. The newsies find out the next morning, and become upset that Pulitzer has to take money from them, even though he is already immensely rich. At this news, Jack and David, who have become good friends through their partnership, organize a strike along with the other outraged newsies, who all fear they will not be able to bear the additional cost ("The World Will Know").

Jack and Les confront Pulitzer personally, and the rest of the newsies deliver news of the strike to the other boroughs of the city in an effort to persuade them to join their cause. A newspaper reporter named Bryan Denton (Bill Pullman) catches wind of the commotion in the streets and approaches David to inquire about the strike. Meanwhile, Jack and Les are promptly thrown out of Pulitzer's quarters. Denton takes an interest in the boys' story and takes them to lunch, telling them to keep him informed on their progress. Jack, David and Boots take their cause to Brooklyn in an attempt to gain the sympathy of Brooklyn's own newsboys, who answer to the notorious Spot Conlon (Gabriel Damon). But Spot is reluctant to join, feeling that the Manhattan newsies aren't truly committed to the cause. Once back in Manhattan, Jack relays this to his newsies, who are crestfallen and fear the strike won't be successful without Brooklyn's aid. A group of boys strike until they have better pay.

At this, David riles up the newsboys ("Seize the Day"), and with their confidence boosted, they ambush the distribution stand and destroy all of the papers in protest. Crutchy, a newsboy who bears his nickname due to his permanently injured leg that causes him to walk with a crutch, struggles to escape and is taken hostage by the Delancey brothers. Jack and David vow to rescue him and go to the Refuge that evening, where Jack locates Crutchy and discovers that he was so badly beaten by the Delancey brothers that he can no longer walk on his own, which ultimately foils their rescue mission. The next morning, the newsies, still bitter from the previous day's trials, try to ward off some new newsboys who are purchasing papers to sell. The struggle turns violent when it turns out to be a trap set by the Delanceys and their supporters, making the police jump in, causing the violence to escalate even further. Just as the newsies are about to be beaten down, Spot Conlon arrives with the Brooklyn newsies. United, the two groups overtake the police, and Denton is on the scene to snap a victory photograph for his story.

Following the success, the newsies joyfully recount the day's events at a nearby restaurant. Denton enters with a newspaper, where the newsies are the headlining story. The boys begin to dream of what they can achieve now that they've made the front page of the paper ("King of New York"). In order to capitalize on their recent victory, they decide to hold a newsie rally at Medda's dance hall. Pulitzer learns of the newsies' intentions and devises to break it up, although he has no legal right to do so. Warden Snyder steps in and relays to Pulitzer that Jack is an escaped convict from the Refuge, and that this is enough legal cause to stop the rally. Jack discovers that the police are trailing him after Snyder drops by the newsboys' lodging house, and Jack opts to spend the night on David's fire escape to throw them off. In the morning, David's sister, Sarah, notices Jack and prepares breakfast for him, which they share on the roof. Jack tells her about his desire to go to Santa Fe and wonders aloud if Sarah would care if he left.

The rally goes off ("High Times, Hard Times"), a success until the police barge in unannounced. The boys are mercilessly beaten, and although the newsies try to protect Jack, he is captured and taken hostage after a struggle. The other newsies, now without their leader, are also arrested and taken to court, where they are all fined five dollars, a fee none of them can afford. Denton steps in and pays all their fees. As the case proceeds, they discover that Jack had been lying to them about his identity; Snyder, who happens to be a friend of the judge, testifies against Jack, revealing that Jack's real name is Francis Sullivan, and that his mother is deceased and his father is incarcerated. Jack is sentenced to four years of rehabilitation in the Refuge and taken to Pulitzer's private office while the other newsies meet with Denton. Denton regretfully informs the newsies that he was demoted from his position as a strike reporter to his old job as a war correspondent. The newsies are heartbroken and angry, now believing that no one will tell their story. Meanwhile, Pulitzer strikes a deal with Jack, offering to waive his sentence and to pay him a salary if Jack works for him as a "scab," a strike-breaker. Jack, feeling he has no other choice, complies after Pulitzer threatens to arrest David and the other newsies, but he also says he's looking out for himself so he can live his dream.

Outside of Pulitzer's quarters, David and the other newsies wait for Jack's release so they can attempt an escape, but Jack makes them leave, knowing he'll endanger the welfare of the other newsies if he goes with them ("Santa Fe (Reprise)"). The next day, Jack shows up on the streets as a scab, and the newsies are horrified to the point of anger and violence. The Delancey brothers, looking for trouble, tell Jack that they're going to attack David, and that because Jack is under Pulitzer's watch, he can't interfere. The brothers instead go after Sarah and Les, and David tries to save them but is almost fatally beaten. Jack witnesses the events and steps in to ward off the Delanceys, even though he knows he will get thrown in the Refuge for doing so. After the Delancey brothers flee, David, Jack, Sarah and Les find Denton, where they learn that the strike has not proved as effective as they'd hoped, as the city thrives on child labor for its businesses to function - therefore caring little for the protesting of a few hundred newsboys.

At this news, David and Jack realize they must recruit not only the newsies, but also the workers in every child labor union in Manhattan. To spread the word, they decide to turn the tables on Pulitzer and print their own newspaper, using Pulitzer's own printing press, which Jack now has access to in Pulitzer's basement ("Once and for All"). The newsies distribute the "Newsie Banner" to every working child in New York, and as the kids begin to discover the injustices against them, they band together and join the newsies in the center of town, leaving the city's workforce at a standstill. Jack and David confront Pulitzer, who eventually gives in to the newsies' demands, realizing he was duped after implementing a city-wide printing ban on strike matters, which the boys ultimately defied. Crutchy and the other boys who were captured are released from the Refuge, and Snyder is arrested for keeping the Refuge a secret from the government and for mistreating its tenants. Denton pulls Jack aside and tells him that Governor Theodore Roosevelt has gotten word of the strike and is grateful that Jack brought it to his attention. Roosevelt offers to give Jack a ride anywhere, and Jack requests to be taken to the train yards to catch a train to Santa Fe.

His friends are devastated to see him leave. On their way to purchase newspapers, Jack returns in Roosevelt's carriage. Roosevelt has convinced Jack that he still has a lot left here in New York. As the newsies celebrate his return, Sarah catches up to Jack and the two kiss. The Newsies boogie out, Spot riding with Roosevelt in his carriage back to Brooklyn.[3][4]



Newsies (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by Alan Menken, Jack Feldman and J.A.C. Redford
Released April 10, 1992
Recorded 1992
Genre Soundtrack
Label Walt Disney
No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "Newsies Prologue"   Max Casella 0:48
2. "Carrying the Banner"   Newsies Ensemble 6:15
3. "Santa Fe"   Christian Bale 4:18
4. "My Lovey-Dovey Baby"   Ann-Margret 1:30
5. "Fightin' Irish: Strike Action"   J.A.C. Redford 1:50
6. "The World Will Know"   Newsies Ensemble 3:20
7. "Escape from Snyder"   Redford 2:08
8. "Seize the Day"   Newsies Ensemble 2:01
9. "King of New York"   Newsies Ensemble 2:25
10. "High Times, Hard Times"   Newsies Ensemble/Ann Margret 2:54
11. "Seize the Day (Chorale)"   Newsies Ensemble 1:12
12. "Santa Fe (Reprise)"   Christian Bale 1:49
13. "Rooftop"   Redford 3:13
14. "Once and for All"   Newsies Ensemble 2:24
15. "The World Will Know (Finale)"   Newsies Ensemble 1:50
16. "Carrying the Banner (Finale)"   Newsies Ensemble 6:20


Newsies received mixed to negative reviews from critics and audiences and was a box office bomb, failing to recoup its $15 million budget.

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film's average score is 40% based on 35 reviews. Newsies has since gained a measurable cultural fan base.[2] Bale has acknowledged that while it was not a commercial success, its fanbase is surprisingly large, saying, “You say something bad about Newsies and you have an awful lot of people to answer to.”[5]

Box office

The film grossed $2,819,485 domestically and ranks among the lowest-grossing live-action films produced by the Walt Disney Studios. Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin christened it Howard the Paperboy.[6][7]

Home media

In 1992, the film was released on Walt Disney Home Video, while a collector's edition DVD was released in 2002. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray, as a 20th Anniversary Edition, on June 19, 2012.

Award nominations

Award Category Name Outcome
14th Youth in Film Awards
Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture
Christian Bale, David Moscow, Luke Edwards, Max Casella, Marty Belafsky, Arvie Lowe, Jr., Aaron Lohr, Gabriel Damon, Shon Greenblatt and Ele Keats Nominated
15th Stinkers Bad Movie Awards[8] Worst Picture
13th Golden Raspberry Awards
Worst Picture
Worst Director Kenny Ortega
Worst Supporting Actor Robert Duvall
Worst Supporting Actress Ann-Margret
Worst Original Song "High Times, Hard Times" Won

Historical strike

The actual Newsboys Strike of 1899 lasted from July 20 to August 2. The leader of the strike was a one-eyed young man named Louis Ballat, nicknamed "Kid Blink", who spoke with a heavy Brooklyn accent that was often phonetically transcribed when he was quoted by newspapers. Kid Blink is featured in the film as a minor supporting character (Blink and another real-life newsie, Maurice Cohen, were the inspiration for Jack Kelly), while the role of strike leader is given to the fictional Cowboy. The actual strike ended with a compromise: the World and Journal agreed to buy back all unsold copies of the newspapers. The history of the newsboys strike of 1899 is told in David Nasaw's book Children of the City: At Work and at Play (Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1985; Oxford University Press, 1986).

Stage adaptation

Disney Theatrical Productions produced a stage musical based on the film that played at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey starting on September 25, 2011 through October 16. Starring Jeremy Jordan as Jack and Max Ehrich (Fenmore, The Young and the Restless) as an understudy for Jack.[9] Newsies!: The Musical contains songs from the movie, as well as several new numbers.[10][11] The songs "My Lovey Dovey Baby" and "High Times, Hard Times" were left out of the stage adaptation.

On September 19, 2011 the cast, accompanied by composer Alan Menken, performed "Seize the Day" and "Santa Fe" on The View.

The Paper Mill Playhouse version included new songs "The News Is Getting Better" that was replaced on Broadway by "The Bottom Line" and Don't Come a-Knocking" that was replaced on Broadway with "That's Rich", and the "I Never Planned on You/Don't Come a-Knocking" Medley and "Then I See You Again" sung by Katherine and Jack was replaced with "Something to Believe In". "Fansies" was the term dubbed to fans of Newsies during the Papermill Playhouse run of the show during Newsies Fan Day, where cast members of the movie and the original musical cast met with fans before the show.[12][13]

The musical opened to previews on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre for a limited engagement from March 15, 2012 to March 28, 2012 in previews and from March 29, 2012 to June 10, 2012 in its official engagement.[14] This was later extended through August 19, 2012 after just the first weekend of previews and then extended again, this time to an open-ended run.[15] They performed "King of New York" in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The show went on to earn eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, winning Best Choreography and Best Original Score.

It is currently on a U.S. tour and a separate Italian tour.

See also


  1. "THE NEWS BOYS (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 1992-07-30. Retrieved 2013-07-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Collis, Clark (2007-08-31). "Spotlight on Christian Bale". EW. Retrieved 2012-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. IMDb - Newsies
  4. Newsies VHS/DVD case
  5. Random Facts,
  6. "Toon Talk - Newsies". Retrieved 2012-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Newsies". Christian Bale. Retrieved 2012-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "1992 15th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2007-01-04. Retrieved March 30, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Sorokoff, Stephen (September 26, 2011). "Photo Coverage: Newsies Opening Night Curtain Call!". Broadway World. Retrieved January 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. " Article". Article. 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2012-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Itzkoff, Dave (February 14, 2011). "Extra, Extra! 'Newsies' Musical to Open Paper Mill Playhouse Season". The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Rooney, David (2011-09-27). "New York Times Review". Retrieved 2012-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Thom Geier (2011-09-27). "Entertainment Weekly review". Retrieved 2012-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Read All About It: Disney's Newsies Gets Spring 2012 Broadway Engagement". 2011-11-15. Retrieved 2012-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "'Newsies' extends Broadway run". Retrieved 2012-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links