Hairspray is a 2007 American musical romantic comedy filmed based on the 2002 musical of the same name (which was based on John Waters' 1988 film Hairspray) directed & choreographed by Adam Shankman, starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, Brittany Snow, Zac Efron, Allison Janney, Elijah Kelley and introducing Nikki Blonsky.
The movie is adapted from John Waters' 1988 script and Thomas Meehan & Mark O'Donnell's book for the "Hairspray" stage musical written by Leslie Dixon.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
Set in 1962 (just like in the 1988 film version), teenager Tracy Turnblad is an overweight high school student living in Baltimore, Maryland ("Good Morning Baltimore") in 1962. Tracy and her classmate Penny Pingleton frequently watch "The Corny Collins Show" (a local teen dance television show) together ("The Nicest Kids in Town").
The teenagers featured on the show attend Tracy and Penny's school (among them is Amber von Tussle and her boyfriend Link Larkin, the show's lead male dancer).
Amber’s mother, Velma manages WYZT and makes sure that Amber is prominently featured. Corny Collins and the dancers on the show are white & Velma only allows African-American kids on the show once a month on "Negro Day" (which is hosted by R&B disc jockey Motormouth Maybelle)
One day, one of the dancers on the show takes a leave of absence and auditions for a replacement are held. Tracy attends the audition, but she is rejected by Velma for being overweight and for supporting integration ("The Legend of Miss Baltimore Crabs").
Later on, Tracy is sent to detention for skipping school and discovers the "Negro Day" kids practicing in the detention room.
Tracy befriends Seaweed (Elijah Kelley), the students' best dancer and Motormouth Maybelle's son & he teaches Tracy several dance moves. As Tracy leaves detention, she inadvertently bumps into Link and dreams of a life with him ("I Can Hear the Bells"). At a record hop, Tracy’s moves attract the attention of Corny Collins ("Ladies' Choice") and he chooses her to join the show ("The Nicest Kids in Town (Reprise)").
Tracy becomes one of Corny's most popular dancers which threatens Amber's chances of winning the show's yearly "Miss Teenage Hairspray" pageant ("The New Girl in Town") and her relationship with Link as he starts growing fonder of Tracy.
Mr. Pinky suggests that Tracy be the spokesgirl for his Hefty Hideaway boutique & Tracy persuades her agoraphobic mother, Edna, to accompany her to the boutique as her agent ("Welcome to the '60s").
Tracy introduces Seaweed to Penny & the two of them are smitten. Later, when Tracy and Link are in detention, Seaweed invites the girls and Link to follow him and his sister, Little Inez (Taylor Parks) to a party at Maybelle's store ("Run and Tell That").
Edna finds Tracy there and tries taking her home, but Maybelle convinces her to stay and tells her to take pride in herself ("Big, Blonde and Beautiful"). At the party, Maybelle informs everyone that Velma has canceled "Negro Day" and Tracy suggests that they march for integration.
Edna returns to her husband Wilbur's shop, but Velma gets there first and tries to seduce him ("Big, Blonde and Beautiful (Reprise)"). After she accuses Wilbur of infidelity, Edna forbids Tracy to be on the show and Wilbur & Edna reconcile ("(You’re) Timeless to Me").
The next morning, Tracy sneaks out of the house to join the protest ("I Know Where I've Been"), which is halted by a police roadblock. The protesters engage in a brawl while Tracy runs to the Pingletons' home and hides in a fallout shelter.
Penny's mother, Prudence, catches Tracy and calls the police before tying her daughter to her bed. Having been bailed out by Wilbur, Seaweed and his friends help Tracy & Penny escape. Link visits Tracy’s house to look for her and realizes that he loves her. Seaweed and Penny also acknowledge their love during the escape ("Without Love").
With the pageant underway ("Hairspray"), Velma places police officers around WYZT to stop Tracy from entering & also changes the pageant tallies so Amber is guaranteed to win the contest.
Penny arrives at the pageant with Edna, while Wilbur, Seaweed, and the Negro Day kids help Tracy infiltrate the studio. Link breaks away from Amber to dance with Tracy; later, he pulls Seaweed's sister, Little Inez, to the stage to dance in the pageant.
Amber's attempt to re-claim her championship crown fails and Little Inez wins the pageant which successfully integrating "The Corny Collins Show." Velma confesses switching the tallies to Amber in front of a camera which results her getting fired.
"The Corny Collins Show" set turns into a celebration as Tracy and Link kiss ("You Can’t Stop the Beat").
- "Good Morning Baltimore" – Tracy (Nikki Blonsky)
- "The Nicest Kids in Town" – Corny and Council Members (James Marsden)
- "It Takes Two (Tag)" – Link (Zac Efron)
- "Miss Baltimore Crabs" – Velma and Council Members (Michelle Pfeiffer)
- "I Can Hear the Bells" – Tracy (Nikki Blonsky)
- "Ladies' Choice" – Link (Zac Efron)
- "The Nicest Kids in Town (Reprise)" – Corny, Council Members, Penny, Edna, Wilbur (James Marsden)
- "The New Girl in Town" – Amber, Tammy, Shelley, and The Dynamites (Brittany Snow)
- "Welcome to the '60s" – Tracy, Edna, The Dynamites, and Hefty Hideaway Employees (Nikki Blonsky & John Travolta)
- "Run and Tell That" – Seaweed, Little Inez, and Detention Kids (Elijah Kelley ft. Taylor Parks)
- "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful" – Motormouth (Queen Latifah)
- "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful (Reprise)" – Velma and Edna (Michelle Pfeiffer & John Travolta)
- "(You're) Timeless to Me" – Wilbur and Edna (Christopher Walken & John Travolta)
- "I Know Where I've Been" – Motormouth (Queen Latifah)
- "Without Love" – Link, Tracy, Seaweed, Penny, and Detention Kids (Zac Efron, Nikki Blonsky, Elijah Kelley, Amanda Bynes)
- "Hairspray" – Corny and Council Members (James Marsden)
- "You Can't Stop the Beat" – Company (Nikki Blonsky, Zac Efron, Amanda Bynes, Elijah Kelley, John Travolta and Queen Latifah)
- "Come So Far (Got So Far to Go)" (end credits) – (Queen Latifah, Zac Efron, Nikki Blonsky, and Elijah Kelley)
- "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now" (end credits) – Ricki Lake, Marissa Jaret Winokur, and Nikki Blonsky with Harvey Fierstein
- "Cooties" (end credits) – Aimee Allen
- Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Edna Turnblad, an optimistic, overweight teenage girl who loves dancing; Tracy's racial acceptance leads her to become an active supporter for the integration of The Corny Collins Show. "Hairspray" is Blonsky's debut as a professional actress.
- John Travolta as Edna Turnblad, Tracy's mother and agent, an agoraphobe ashamed of her obesity. Travolta's casting as Edna continues the tradition of having a man in drag portray the character, going back to the original 1988 film, which featured drag queen Divine as Edna and at Hairspray's Broadway version, which featured Harvey Fierstein as Edna. The executives at New Line Cinema originally expected the part to be filled by an actor accustomed to playing comic roles, tossing around names such as Robin Williams, Steve Martin, and Tom Hanks. However, Travolta was aggressively sought after by producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron for this role because he had starred as Danny Zuko in Grease the second most successful movie musical to date, beaten only by Mamma Mia!.
- Michelle Pfeiffer as Velma Von Tussle, the manager of station WYZT and a racist and sizeist, former beauty queen Velma is interested in keeping her daughter Amber in the spotlight and The Corny Collins Show segregated. Hairspray is the first film featuring Pfeiffer to be released in five years. Stardust, also featuring Pfeiffer, was shot before Hairspray, but released three weeks afterwards. The peculiarity of Pfeiffer and Travolta appearing onscreen together (Travolta starred in Grease, Pfeiffer in Grease 2) was not lost on the production staff; Travolta requested that Pfeiffer play the part of the villainess.
- Christopher Walken as Wilbur Turnblad, Tracy's father, the easygoing proprietor of the "Hardy-Har Hut" joke shop below the Turnblad family's apartment. John Travolta had asked that Walken be considered for the part, and he eventually beat out Billy Crystal and Jim Broadbent for the role of Wilbur.
- Amanda Bynes as Penny Lou Pingleton, Tracy's best friend, a sheltered girl who falls in love with Seaweed, despite the efforts of her racist, devoutly religious and stern mother, Prudy Pingleton. A young actress famous for appearances on Nickelodeon TV shows and in feature films, Bynes was one of the few movie stars cast among the teen roles.
- Queen Latifah as Maybelle "Motormouth" Stubbs, a Baltimore rhythm and blues radio DJ who hosts "Negro Day" on The Corny Collins Show. Maybelle also runs a record shop on North Avenue. Queen Latifah appeared in the successful Zadan/Meron film musical Chicago, and worked under Adam Shankman's direction in Bringing Down the House. She beat out soul legend Aretha Franklin for the role of Maybelle.
- James Marsden as Corny Collins, the host of The Corny Collins Show; his politically progressive attitudes lead him to fight his show's imposed segregation. Corny Collins is based upon Baltimore TV personality, Buddy Deane, who hosted an eponymous local teen dance show in the late 1950s and early 1960s. James Marsden beat out both Joey McIntyre and "X-Men" co-star Hugh Jackman for the part.
- Brittany Snow as Amber Von Tussle, Velma's bratty daughter and the lead female dancer on The Corny Collins Show. Amber becomes Tracy's enemy when Tracy threatens both Amber's chances of winning the "Miss Teenage Hairspray" crown and Amber's relationship with her boyfriend, Link. Snow previously worked with Shankman in The Pacifier. Hayden Panettiere was also considered for the part of Amber, but was decided against in part because of her then-upcoming work with the NBC television series "Heroes."
- Zac Efron as Link Larkin, Amber's boyfriend and the lead male dancer on The Corny Collins Show. Link is a singer who becomes more attracted to Tracy. The character is based in part upon Elvis Presley. Efron, a popular teen actor who played Troy Bolton in the Disney Channel TV film "High School Musical" was initially thought by Shankman to be "too Disney". Shankman's sister, executive producer Jennifer Gibgot, convinced her brother to cast Efron, believing that the teen star would draw a substantial teen crowd.
- Elijah Kelley as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Maybelle's son, a skilled dancer who teaches Tracy some dance moves and falls in love with her friend, Penny. Kelley, a relative newcomer to film, overcame other auditioners and several popular R&B stars for the part of Seaweed.
- Allison Janney as Prudence "Prudy" Pingleton, Penny's mother, a Christian fundamentalist whose strict parenting keeps Penny from experiencing social life. Her husband is serving a prison sentence for an unspecified crime. Prudy is horrified when her daughter is on TV, and decides to keep her from leaving the house anymore.
- Paul Dooley as Harriman F. Spritzer, the owner of the "Ultra Clutch" company and the main sponsor of The Corny Collins Show. Although he prefers to keep The Corny Collins Show segregated, he will follow public opinion if it increases sales.
- Jayne Eastwood as Miss Wimsey, Tracy’s geography teacher; gives Tracy the detention note that first leads her to Seaweed.
- Jerry Stiller as Mr. Pinky, the owner of a dress shop called Mr. Pinky's Hefty Hideaway, who hires Tracy as his spokesgirl. In the original film, Stiller played Wilbur Turnblad.
- Taylor Parks as Little Inez Stubbs, Maybelle's teenage daughter, Seaweed's younger sister & a skilled dancer. Inez is based in part upon Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend a formerly all-white school in the state of Louisiana.
- George King as Mr. Flak, Amber, Link, and Tracy's history teacher. He gives Tracy detention when Amber frames Tracy of drawing a picture of him with breasts. He gives Link detention as well for coming to Tracy's defense.
- Curtis Holbrook as Brad
- Hayley Podschun as Tammy
- Phillip Spaeth as Fender
- Cassie Silva as Brenda
- Nick Baga as Sketch
- Sarah Jayne Jensen as Shelley
- Jesse Weafer as I.Q.
- Kelly Fletcher as Lou Ann
- J.P. Ferreri as Joey
- Spencer Liff as Mikey
- Laura Edwards as Vicky
- Tabitha Lupien as Becky
- Corey Gorewicz as Bix
- Joshua Feldman as Jesse
- Becca Sweitzer as Darla
- Everett Smith as Paulie
- Tiffany Engen as Noreen
- Brooke Engen as Doreen
- Nadine Ellis
- Arike Rice
- Tanee McCall
In addition to the principal actors, the movie contained several cameo appearances by individuals involved in the history of "Hairspray":
- Ricki Lake (Tracy Turnblad in the original film) as William Morris Talent Agent #1 (Audio) performs "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now".
- Adam Shankman (choreographer/director of the film) as William Morris Talent Agent #2 (Audio) sings "Tied Up in the Knots of Sin" with Shaiman which is heard when Prudy turns the record player on while she ties up Penny.
- Marc Shaiman (co-lyricist/writer of the film) as William Morris Talent Agent #3 (Audio) sings "Tied Up in the Knots of Sin" with Shankman which is heard when Prudy turns the record player on while she ties up Penny.
- Scott Wittman (co-lyricist and music writer of the film) as William Morris Talent Agent #4.
- John Waters (writer and director of the original film) as the "flasher who lives next door" during "Good Morning Baltimore"
- Jamal Sims (Associate choreographer) as one of the Detention Kids
- Anne Fletcher (Associate choreographer) as the school nurse
- Zach Woodlee (Associate choreographer) as Smoking teacher
- Marissa Jaret Winokur (Original Broadway cast's Tracy) performs "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now"
- Harvey Fierstein (Original Broadway cast's Edna) as brief singing cameo in the end credits "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now"
- Corey Reynolds (Original Broadway cast's Seaweed) as singer of "Trouble on the Line". The song is heard shortly after "Big, Blonde and Beautiful" until Maybelle announces the cancellation of Negro Day.
- Arthur Adams (One of the Broadway cast's Seaweed) performs "Boink-Boink" which is heard during "Big, Blonde and Beautiful".
- Chester Gregory (One of the Broadway cast's Seaweed) performs "Breakout", which is heard during Tracy's introduction to Seaweed in detention.
- Aimee Allen performs the song "Cooties"
Following the success of the Broadway musical of "Hairspray" (which won eight Tony Awards in 2003), New Line Cinema, who owned the rights to the 1988 John Waters film upon which the stage musical is based, became interested in adapting the stage show as a musical film.
The development work began in late 2004, while a similarly film-to-Broadway-to-film project, Mel Brooks' The Producers, was in production.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the executive producers of the Academy Award-winning film adaptation of the Broadway musical Chicago were hired as the producers for Hairspray, and began discussing possibly casting John Travolta and Billy Crystal (or Jim Broadbent) as Edna and Wilbur Turnblad, respectively.
Thomas Meehan and Mark O'Donnell, authors of the book for the stage musical, wrote the first draft of the film's screenplay, but were replaced by Leslie Dixon, screenwriter for family comedies such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Freaky Friday.
After a year's deliberation on who should direct the film, Zadan and Meron finally decided to hire Adam Shankman to both direct and choreograph "Hairspray." Upon learning he had been hired, Shankman arranged a meeting with John Waters, who advised him "don't do what I did, don't do what the play did. You've gotta do your own thing."
Despite this, Shankman still noted "all roads of Hairspray lead back to John Waters."
Tony Gardner (designer) and his company Alterian, Inc. were hired to design and create the look of Edna Turnblad on John Travolta.
Costume designer Rita Ryack wanted to put Edna into several revealing outfits, so Travolta ended up being encapsulated in prosthetics. He wore silicone prosthetics on his head and neck, and foam latex arms and legs that connected to a spandex and foam body suit.
(Screen to) Stage to Screen ChangesEdit
Dixon was primarily hired to tone down much of the campiness inherent in the stage musical. The 2007 movie script is based primarily on the "Hairspray" stage musical instead of the 1988 film, so several changes already made to the plot for the stage version remain in this version.
These include dropping several characters from the 1988 version (such as Arvin Hodgepile (the role Mr. Spritzer fills), Velma's husband Franklin, Corny's assistant Tammy, the beatniks, et al.), removing the Tilted Acres amusement park from the story, and placing Velma in charge of the station where The Corny Collins Show is filmed.
The song "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now", a popular number from the stage musical, features Tracy, Penny, and Amber arguing with their respective mothers. Neither Shankman nor Dixon could come up with a solution for filming the song that did not require a three-way split screen; something they wanted to avoid and both felt the number did not adequately advance the plot.
As a result, the song was reluctantly dropped from the film during pre-production, although it is used by Shaiman as an instrumental number when the Corny Collins kids dance the "Stricken Chicken".
A special version of the song was recorded for the film's end credits in May 2007, during the final score recording process, which featured vocals from each of the three women most famous for portraying Tracy Turnblad: Ricki Lake from the 1988 film, Marissa Jaret Winokur from the original Broadway cast, and Nikki Blonsky from the 2007 film. Harvey Fierstein, who portrayed Edna as part of the original Broadway cast, has a brief cameo moment in the end credits version of the song as well.
The song "It Takes Two", a solo for Link, was moved from its place in the stage musical (on Tracy's first day on "The Corny Collins Show") to an earlier Corny Collins scene, although only the coda of the song is used in the final release print & the song's background music can be heard immediately after the reprise of "The Nicest Kids in Town".
The song "Cooties" (a solo for Amber in the stage musical) is present in this film as an instrumental during the Miss Teenage Hairspray dance-off. Similar to "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now", a version of "Cooties", performed in a contemporary pop rendition by Aimee Allen, is present during the end credits.
One notable difference between the stage musical, the original film, and the 2007 film version of Hairspray is that Tracy does not go to jail in the 2007 version (thus eliminating the musical's song "The Big Dollhouse").
In both previous incarnations of Hairspray, Tracy is arrested and taken to jail along with the other protesters. Edna is presented in this version as an insecure introvert, in contrast to the relatively bolder incarnations present in the 1988 film and the stage musical.
Among many other elements changed or added to this version are the removal of Motormouth Maybelle's habit of speaking in rhyming jive talk, and doubling the number of teens in Corny Collins' Council (from ten on Broadway to twenty in the 2007 film).
Dixon restructured portions of Hairspray's book to allow several of the songs to blend more naturally into the plot, in particular "(You're) Timeless to Me" and "I Know Where I've Been". "(You're) Timeless to Me" becomes the anchor of a newly invented subplot involving Velma's attempt to break up Edna and Wilbur’s marriage and keep Tracy off The Corny Collins Show as a result. The song now serves as Wilbur's apology to Edna, in addition to its original purpose in the stage musical as a tongue-in-cheek declaration of Wilbur and Edna's love for each other.
Meanwhile, the song "I Know Where I've Been", instead of being sung by Maybelle alone after being let out of jail, now underscores Maybelle's march on WYZT (which takes place in the stage musical only briefly during "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful").
The song "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful" was inspired by a line that Tracy delivered in the original film ("Now all of Baltimore will know: I'm big, blonde and beautiful!"), but in the stage version and in this film, Motormouth Maybelle performs the song.
A reprise of the song was added to the 2007 film, which is sung by Edna and Velma
Pre-production and CastingEdit
"Hairspray" was produced on a budget of $75 million. An open casting call was announced to cast unknowns in Atlanta, New York City and Chicago.
After auditioning over eleven hundred candidates, Nikki Blonsky (an eighteen-year-old high school senior from Great Neck, New York who had no previous professional acting experience) was chosen for the lead role of Tracy.
Relative unknown actors Elijah Kelley and Taylor Parks were chosen through similar audition contests to portray siblings Seaweed & Little Inez Stubbs respectively.
John Travolta was finally cast as Edna with Christopher Walken ultimately assuming the role of Wilbur. Several other stars including Queen Latifah, James Marsden, Michelle Pfeiffer & Allison Janney were chosen for the other supporting adult roles of Motormouth Maybelle, Corny Collins, Velma Von Tussle, and Prudy Pingleton, respectively.
Teen stars Amanda Bynes, and Zac Efron were cast as Tracy's friends Penny and Link, and Brittany Snow was cast as her rival, Amber Von Tussle. Jerry Stiller (who played Wilbur Turnblad in the original 1988 film) appears as plus-sized women's clothes retailer Mr. Pinky in this version.
Since Hairspray's plot focuses heavily on dance, choreography became a heavy focus for Shankman, who hired four assistant choreographers, Jamal Sims, Anne Fletcher & Zach Woodlee & put both his acting cast and over a hundred and fifty dancers through two months of rehearsals.
The cast recorded the vocal tracks for their songs as coached by Elaine Overholt in the weeks just before principal photography began in September.
Principal photography for "Hairspray" took place in Toronto, and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada from September 5-December 8, 2006. The movie is explicitly set in Baltimore, Maryland and the original 1988 film had been shot on location there, but the 2007 film was shot primarily in Toronto because the city was better equipped with the sound stages necessary to film a musical.
The opening shots of the descent from the clouds and the newspaper being dropped onto the stoop are the only times that the actual city of Baltimore is shown in the film.
The majority of the film was shot at Toronto's Showline Studios. Most of the street scenes were shot at the intersection of Dundas Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue. A PCC streetcar with Toronto Transit Commission livery is seen in the opening sequence. Some of the signs for the 1960s-era stores remain up along the street.
Toronto's Lord Lansdowne Public School was used for all of the high school exteriors and some of the interiors, while the old Queen Victoria School in Hamilton was also used for interiors. Scenes at Queen Victoria were shot from November 22 to December 2, and the school was scheduled to be demolished after film production was completed.
Thinner than most of the other men who have portrayed Edna, John Travolta appeared onscreen in a large fat suit, and required four hours of makeup in order to appear before the cameras. His character's nimble dancing style belies her girth; Shankman based Edna's dancing style on the hippo ballerinas in the Dance of the Hours sequence in Walt Disney's 1940 animated feature Fantasia.
Although early versions of the suit created "a dumpy, Alfred Hitchcock version of Edna," Travolta fought for the ability to give his character curves and a thick Baltimore accent.
Designed by Tony Gardner, the fat suit was created using lightweight synthetic materials, consisting of layered pads and silicone, which was used from the chest upwards. The suit provided the additional benefit of covering Travolta's beard, eliminating the problem of his facial hair growing through his makeup midday.
Adam Shankman's inspirationsEdit
Adam Shankman included "a lot of winks" to films that influenced his work on the movie:
- The film's opening shot — a bird's eye view of Baltimore that eventually descends from the clouds to ground level — is a combination of the opening shots of West Side Story and [[[The Sound of Music]].
- Before we see a full shot of Tracy, we see individual shots of her upraised right and left arms. This is reminiscent of our first views of Sadie Thompson (Joan Crawford) in the 1932 film Rain].
- Several scenes involving Tracy, such as her ride atop the garbage truck during the "Good Morning Baltimore" number and her new hairstyle during "Welcome to the '60s", are directly inspired by the Barbra Streisand musical film version of Funny Girl.
- During "Without Love", Link sings to a photograph of Tracy, which comes to life and sings harmony with him. This is directly inspired from the MGM musical The Broadway Melody of 1938, in which a young Judy Garland swoons over a photo of actor Clark Gable as she sings "You Made Me Love You".
- The dress that Penny wears during "You Can't Stop the Beat" is made from her bedroom curtains, which can be seen during "Without Love". This is homage to "The Sound of Music" where Maria uses old curtains to make play clothes for the von Trapp children.
Washington Blade Boycott ControversyEdit
Despite the movie's critical and commercial success, it nonetheless garnered some criticism upon its release by individuals in the gay community.
Much of this criticism surrounded John Travolta's portrayal of Edna Turnblad (a role played in the original film by celebrated drag performer Divine and in the stage adaptation by Harvey Fierstein).
Kevin Naff (a managing editor for Washington, D.C./Baltimore area gay newspaper, the Washington Blade) called for a boycott of the new "Hairspray" film, alleging that Scientology, in which Travolta believes, was patently homophobic & allegedly supported workshops designed to "cure" homosexuals.
Adam Shankman protested Naff's proposed boycott, stating that Travolta was not homophobic, as he (Shankman), Waters, Shaiman, Wittman & several other members of the creative staff were homosexual, and Travolta got along well with the entire crew. "John's personal beliefs did not walk onto my set," said Shankman. "I never heard the word Scientology."
"Hairspray" debuted at #3 at the box office (behind films I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), grossing $27,476,745 during its opening weekend with an average of $8,803.
The movie became the record-holder for the biggest opening weekend for a movie based on a Broadway musical. This record was later broken by the release of "Mamma Mia!" (which grossed $27,751,240 on its opening weekend).
It has since gone on to become the fourth highest grossing musical in U.S. cinema history, surpassing The Rocky Horror Picture Show ($145 million) and Dreamgirls ($103 million) (which was released seven months prior).
After ending its domestic run on October 25, 2007, the film has a total domestic gross of $118,871,849 and $202,548,575 worldwide. Its biggest overseas markets include the United Kingdom ($25.8 million), Australia ($14.4 million), Japan ($8 million), Italy ($4.6 million), France ($3.9 million) and Spain ($3.8 million).
This made the movie the third musical film in history to cross $200 million internationally, behind 1978's hit "Grease" ($395 million) and 2002's "Chicago" ($307 million).
"Hairspray" is the seventh highest-grossing PG-rated film of 2007 & has grossed more than other higher-budgeted summer releases such as Ocean's Thirteen ($117 million) and Evan Almighty ($100 million).
"Hairspray" has garnered acclaim from film critics such as Roger Ebert, The New York Times & The Boston Globe, as well as a smaller number of reviews comparing it unfavorably to the Waters original. It is one of the top picks on Metacritic, with an average of 81.
It scored a 91% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, also indicating excellent reviews, making it one of 2007's best-reviewed films.
Peter Rainer of The Christian Science Monitor named it the 4th best film of 2007. Lou Lumenick of the New York Post named it the ninth best film of 2007.
Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, saying that there was "a lot of craft and slyness lurking beneath the circa-1960s goofiness," also stating that "The point, however, is not the plot but the energy. Without somebody like Nikki Blonsky at the heart of the movie, it might fall flat, but everybody works at her level of happiness..." He also noted that this film is "a little more innocent than Waters would have made it..."
Krishna Shenoi, of the Shenoi Chronicle, called the movie "Shankman's masterpiece," saying that it moved away from his previous works into a different direction, making a light comedy that deals with serious issues maturely. He also said that the film was everything he wanted "Grease" to be.
Lou Lumenick of The New York Post hailed Hairspray as "The best and most entertaining movie adaptation of a stage musical so far this century — and yes, I’m including the Oscar-winning Chicago," calling it "one of the best-cast movies in recent memory..."
New York Daily News critic Jack Matthews called the film "A great big sloppy kiss of entertainment for audiences weary of explosions, CGI effects and sequels, sequels, sequels."
The Baltimore Sun review offered Michael Sragow's opinion that "in its entirety, Hairspray has the funny tilt that only a director-choreographer like Shankman can give to a movie", pointing out that Shankman skillfully "puts a new-millennial zing behind exact re-creations of delirious period dances like the Mashed Potato."
Dana Stevens from Slate called the movie "intermittently tasty, if a little too frantically eager to please." Stevens noted that "Despite its wholesomeness, this version stays remarkably true to the spirit of the original, with one size-60 exception: John Travolta as Edna Turnblad," saying "How you feel about Hairspray will depend entirely on your reaction to this performance..."
The New Yorker's David Denby felt the new version of Hairspray was "perfectly pleasant," but compared unfavorably to the Broadway musical, since "[director Adam Shankman and screenwriter Leslie Dixon] have removed the traces of camp humor and Broadway blue that gave the stage show its happily knowing flavor."
Denby criticized the dance numbers, calling them "unimaginatively shot," and he considered "the idea of substituting John Travolta for Harvey Fierstein as Tracy’s hefty mother... a blandly earnest betrayal."
Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com found Hairspray "reasonably entertaining. But do we really need to be entertained reasonably? Waters' original was a crazy sprawl that made perfect sense; this Hairspray toils needlessly to make sense of that craziness, and something gets lost in the translation."
Zacharek was also displeased with the way Queen Latifah's performance of "I Know Where I've Been" was incorporated into the movie, saying: "The filmmakers may believe they're adding an extra layer of seriousness to the material... [but] the inclusion of this big production number only suggests that the filmmakers fear the audience won't get the movie's message unless it's spelled out for them."