During the 1970s and early 1980s, a few films were made as spin-offs from the original National Lampoon magazine, using some of the magazine's creative staff to put together the outline and script, and were cast using some of the same actors that performed in The National Lampoon Radio Hour and the stage show National Lampoon's Lemmings. The first of the "National Lampoon" movies was a (not very successful) made-for-TV movie called Disco Beaver from Outer Space, broadcast in 1978.
The second, and by far the most successful film, was National Lampoon's Animal House (1978). Starring John Belushi and written by Doug Kenney, Harold Ramis and Chris Miller, Animal House became one of the highest grossing comedy films of all time. Produced on a low budget, it was so enormously profitable that from that point onward for the next two decades, the name "National Lampoon" applied to the title of a movie was considered to be a valuable selling point in and of itself.
There is considerable ambiguity about what constitutes a "National Lampoon" film because, after the success of Animal House, a large number of movies were subsequently made that had "National Lampoon" as part of the title, and in some cases used actors that had been associated with other National Lampoon productions. Many of these so-called "National Lampoon" movies were unrelated projects, because during most of the 1980s and the 90s, the name "National Lampoon" could simply be licensed on a one-time basis, by any company, for a fee. There are also cases where a film, originally released outside the US under one title, has had "National Lampoon's" added to the title for US release; for example the 2004 Canadian release Going the Distance, which was only branded a National Lampoon film in its American theatrical and DVD releases.
In 2002, the rights to use the name became the property of a new company that also decided to use the National Lampoon name as their company name. Critics such as the Orlando Sentinel's Roger Moore and the New York Times' Andrew Adam Newman have written about the cheapening of the National Lampoon's movie imprimatur; in 2006, an Associated Press review said, “The National Lampoon, once a brand name above nearly all others in comedy, has become shorthand for pathetic frat boy humor."
National Lampoon's Vacation Series
The National Lampoon's Vacation film series is a comedy film series initially based on John Hughes' short story "Vacation '58" that was originally published by National Lampoon magazine. The series is distributed by Warner Bros. and consists of four theatrical films and one made-for-television spin-off film. In recent years, the series has been the inspiration for various advertising campaigns featuring some of the original cast members. The series portrays the misadventures of the Griswold family, whose attempts to enjoy vacations and holidays are plagued with continual disasters and strangely ridiculous predicaments.
National Lampoon's New Vacation (2015)
Vacation is an upcoming American adventure comedy film directed and written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein and produced by David Dobkin. It is the fifth installment of the National Lampoon's Vacation series. The film stars Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlie Day. The film is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. on October 9, 2015.
Following in the footsteps of his father Clark (Chevy Chase) and hoping for some much-needed family bonding, a grown-up Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) surprises his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), and their two sons, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins), with a cross-country trip back to America's favorite family fun park: Wally World, as it will be closing forever.
In 2010, it was announced by New Line Cinema (owned by Warner Bros., which released the previous films) that a new Vacation film was being produced. Originally set to be produced by David Dobkin and written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the story was to focus on Rusty Griswold as he took his own family to Wally World before the theme park permanently closes.
In July 2012, it was announced that Ed Helms will star in the sequel as Rusty Griswold. The film is to follow Rusty, who now has his own family misadventures on the road. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein will write and direct the film, which is scheduled to begin filming in June 2013 throughout Atlanta and New Mexico. On March 28, 2013, Variety announced that original series stars Beverly D'Angelo and Chevy Chase were in talks to reprise their roles, most likely in the form of a torch-passing cameo role. No mention was made of other series regulars such as Randy Quaid's Cousin Eddie. On April 23, 2013, it was reported that the film has been delayed indefinitely due to creative differences.
Chris Hemsworth and Charlie Day will also star. Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins will star as Rusty Griswold's sons along with Helms and Christina Applegate. On September 15, Leslie Mann joined the film to play the role of Rusty's sister Audrey Griswold. On September 29, Keegan-Michael Key and Regina Hall were set to play family friends of the Griswolds in the film. On October 10, director Francis Daley revealed in an interview that he might do a cameo with Samm Levine and Martin Starr, which would be a reunion of hit comedy show Freaks and Geeks, though it was not confirmed. On November 12, four actors joined to play Four Corners cops which include Tim Heidecker, Nick Kroll, Kaitlin Olson and Michael Peña.
Filming began on September 16, 2014, in Atlanta, Georgia. On September 16, scenes were filmed on location in Olympic Flame Restaurant. Scenes were shot around Piedmont and 6th Aves from October 6-8. On October 22, 2014, scenes were filmed at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.