Chris Columbus got the inspiration to for Gremlins after hearing what sounded like a “platoon of mice” in his loft scurrying about. He wrote the script as a show of his skills for potential employers. The idea to actually make it a film didn’t happen until Steven Spielberg got ahold of the script and felt it was the most original thing he’d seen in a long time. Tapping Joe Dante to direct and Warner Bros. to produce the film along with his Amblin Entertainment, the film was a horror-comedy centered around a family’s acquisition of a mogwai: a cute, furry little creature. That is, as long as three rules were followed: 1) don’t expose it to strong light, 2) don’t let it get wet, and 3) never feed it after midnight. Of course, these rules get violated and a horde of ugly, savage gremlins end up on the loose; terrorizing the small town of Kingston Falls. Gremlins opened on June 8, 1984 and became a box office hit.
As part of the promotion for the film, Ralston licensed the right to make a cereal based on it. Gremlins Cereal came with pieces in the shape of the film’s star, Gizmo (Howie Mandel), who also graced the box and was featured in the commercial for it. Incidentally, the commercial also starred Jonathan Ward as one of the kids eating the cereal, who would go on to appear in a Dante-directed Twilight Zone revival episode. With two proofs of purchase from the box and $9.95, people could send away for a plush Gizmo doll. Each box also included one of 11 different collectible stickers. The cereal was a limited edition and stayed on the shelves about as long as the film’s original theatrical run.
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