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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
Editing by William Reynolds
Studio Walt Disney Pictures
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, but later gained a cult following on home video.[2]


The story follows the life of 17-year-old Jack "Cowboy" Kelly, one of the hundreds of homeless and orphaned children who sold newspapers in New York City during the 1890s to support themselves. Jack and his fellow newsboys, dubbed "newsies" for short, work for Joseph Pulitzer selling his newspaper, the New York World, on the streets of Manhattan ("Carrying the Banner"). Amid his daily routine, Jack meets David Jacobs, who's left school temporarily and joined the newsies along with his younger brother, Les, to help support his family while his father is injured and out of work. Jack, who's taken note of David's intelligence and Les' marketable cuteness, takes up a partnership with them in order to sell more papers and in turn earn more money. Jack neglects to mention that he's somewhat of a fugitive, having made his own escape from Warden Snyder and "The Refuge," a correctional center for children.

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 Jack frequents when he needs a hideout. He introduces Les and David to Medda Larkson, a vaudeville star who performs in the hall. She invites the boys to stay and watch her performance ("Lovey Dovey Baby"). 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 prominent, so do their competitive natures, and Pulitzer decides to inflate the newsies' paper prices overnight to avoid having to make other cutbacks. 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 while 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 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. They take their cause to Brooklyn in an attempt to gain the sympathy of Brooklyn's own newsboys, who answer to the notorious Spot Conlon. 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.

At this, David riles up the newsboys ("Seize the Day"), and with their confidence boosted, they ambush the distribution stand and destroy all the papers in protest. "Crutchy," a newsboy who bears his nickname due to his terminally injured leg, struggles to escape and is taken hostage by the neighborhood gang, the Delancey Brothers.

Jack and David go to the Refuge that night, knowing that it was where Crutchy was taken. David dangles Jack in front of the window using a rope, and Jack tells Crutchy that they're going to break him out. Crutchy tells Jack that he can't walk, due to the Delancey brothers hurting his other leg. The next morning, the newsies try to stop the new newsboys who were trying to take their place, but police get brought in to outnumber and beat up the newsies. When it looks like the newsies are about to get crushed, Spot Conlon leads the Brooklyn newsies in. United, the two groups beat the police as Denton takes a victory picture.

As newsies are all lounge at a nearby restaurant, when Denton comes in with a newspaper with the Newsies and the strike on the front page. The boys all dream of what they could get now that they've been on the front page of the paper ("King of New York"). To expand the strike, the boys decide to hold a newsie rally at Medda's. Pulitzer learns about the rally, and wants to break it up, although he has no legal cause. Snyder steps in and says that Jack Kelly is an escaped convict from the refuge, and that is reason enough to break it up. Jack learns that the police are on his tail after Snyder looks for him at the Newsboy's Lodging House, and has to spend the night on the Jacobs' fire escape. Sarah sees him and makes him breakfast on the roof. Jack tells her about his want to go to Santa Fe and learns that whether he stays or goes matters to her and the Jacobs family.

The newsies hold their rally- it is successful until the police barge in ("High Times, Hard TImes"). The police beat the boys up mercilessly, as the boys try to protect Jack. After a struggle, he is taken by the police. The boys are taken to court where they all, excluding Jack, are fined five dollars. During the case they realize that Jack had been lying to them about his identity with his real name being Francis Sullivan with a deceased mother and an incarcerated father. As a result Snyder sentences Jack to four years in the refuge. Jack is then taken to Pulitzer's office, while the rest meet with Denton at the restaurant. Denton tell them that he was reduced from his position as a reporter on their strike, to his old job as war correspondent. The boys are heartbroken, and from then on vow not to trust anyone but the newsies. Pulitzer offers to let Jack off the hook from the refuge, and to give him money, as long as Jack works for him as a scab. Jack sees no other choice after Pulitzer threatens to throw David in jail if he doesn't comply.

David, Mush, Les, Race, Blink and Boots wait outside to help Jack run, but Jack realizes that he has to stay for their own good and is thrown into a cell for the night ("Santa Fe (Reprise)"). Jack shows up the next day as a scab, and his friends are horrified. The Delancey brothers tell Jack that they are going to beat up David, and Jack isn't allowed to do anything about it. The brothers go after Sarah and Les, David comes to try and save them, but he gets beat up even more. Jack sees the events unfolding and can't help but step in and beat up the Delanceys. He knows it will result in him being thrown in the refuge, but he has to protect his friends. David, Les, Jack and Sarah go to Denton's apartment, where they learn that the strike has not proved effective, as the city thrives on child labor.

As a result, they realize they must recruit not only the newsies, but also the workers of every child labor union in the city. They decide to print their own newspaper-using Pulitzer's own printing press ("Once and for All"). The "Newsie Banner" is given to every working kid in New York, and they all come together to Newsie Square to support the newsies, leaving the city at a standstill. Jack and David go to Pulitzer, who eventually gives in and agrees after realizing he allowed a print on strike matters, despite a ban he ordered. Crutchy is released from the refuge and Snyder is arrested for keeping the refuge a secret from the government. Denton tells Jack that Governor Theodore Roosevelt was grateful that Jack brought the strike to his attention and Roosevelt is offering to give him a ride anywhere. Jack requests to be taken to the train station to catch a train to Santa Fe.

His friends are disappointed to see him leave, but Roosevelt convinces Jack to stay with his friends in New York City. Sarah catches up to Jack and the two kiss while the Newsies celebrate.[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 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 flopped at the U.S. box office, becoming a box office bomb.

Critical reception[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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

Stage adaptation[edit]

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.[8] Newsies!: The Musical contains songs from the movie, as well as several new numbers.[9][10] The songs "My Lovey Dovey Baby" and "High Times, Hard Times" were left out of the stage adaptation.

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.[11][12]

The musical opened to previews on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre for a limited engagement from March 15, 2012 to March 29, 2012 in previews and from March 30, 2012 to June 10, 2012 in its official engagement.[13] 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.[14] On September 19, 2011 the cast, accompanied by composer Alan Menken, performed "Seize the Day" and "Santa Fe" on The View.[15] They performed "King of New York" in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Adam Kaplan is currently playing newsboy leader Jack Kelly on Broadway.[16]

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

Historical strike[edit]

The actual Newsboys Strike of 1899 lasted from July 20 to August 2. The leader of the strike was a one-eyed young man 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).

Award nominations[edit]

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[17] 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "THE NEWS BOYS (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 1992-07-30. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  2. ^ a b Collis, Clark (2007-08-31). "Spotlight on Christian Bale". EW. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  3. ^ IMDb - Newsies
  4. ^ Newsies VHS/DVD case
  5. ^ Random Facts,
  6. ^ "Toon Talk - Newsies". Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  7. ^ "Newsies". Christian Bale. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  8. ^ Sorokoff, Stephen (September 26, 2011). "Photo Coverage: Newsies Opening Night Curtain Call!". Broadway World. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  9. ^ " Article". Article. 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  10. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (February 14, 2011). Extra, Extra! ‘Newsies’ Musical to Open Paper Mill Playhouse Season. The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  11. ^ Rooney, David (2011-09-27). "New York Times Review". Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  12. ^ Reviewed by Thom Geier (2011-09-27). "Entertainment Weekly review". Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  13. ^ "Read All About It: Disney's Newsies Gets Spring 2012 Broadway Engagement". 2011-11-15. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  14. ^ "'Newsies' extends Broadway run". Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  15. ^ "STAGE TUBE: Cast of Paper Mill Playhouse's NEWSIES Performs on THE VIEW!". 2011-09-19. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  16. ^ Gans, Andrew (January 12, 2012). "Bonnie & Clyde's Jeremy Jordan Will Star in Broadway's Newsies". Playbill. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  17. ^ "1992 15th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 

External links[edit]