“Well it’s groundhog day… again…” but thankfully fictional weatherman Phil Connors was able to break his curse 30 years ago to finally see Feb. 3, 1993.
That’s right campers, it’s the 30th anniversary of the movie “Groundhog Day.”
The premise of the film was brilliantly simple. Bill Murray plays weatherman Phil Connors, a sarcastic, egotistical narcissist who gets stuck in a time loop and is forced to relive Groundhog Day over and over until he learns to become a better human, causing his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) to begin a romantic relationship with him.
Early on in the movie, MacDowell and Murray’s characters have drastically different attitudes toward their (work-mandated) assignment to cover the Groundhog Day festivities in Gobbler’s Knob: Rita’s eyes almost light up in wonder, while Phil couldn’t be more annoyed with having to go every year. Unfortunately for Murray’s character, a mysterious time loop leaves him stuck reliving Groundhog Day — the day he dreads — over and over.
How many times did Bill Murray relive Groundhog Day?
How long was Murray’s character in the time loop, and how many Groundhog Days did he relive? This might be one of the greatest mysteries of cinema, but it has never truly been revealed.
Director Harold Ramis, commenting on the premise in a special feature of the movie, estimated that Phil was stuck in the time loop for about 10,000 years, before later saying it was probably more like 10 years.
The pop-culture website Whatculture.com, however, once ran some numbers and estimated that Phil likely spent over 12,000 days in the time loop, or roughly 33 years. Simon Gallagher, the author of the Whatculture article, pointed out that Phil is seen reliving Groundhog Day 38 times in the movie, while another 414 days were mentioned in the film. Gallagher also used the popular theory that it takes 10,000 hours to master any one subject (Phil masters piano, French poetry and ice sculpting during the time loop), bringing his estimate to around 12,395 days.
In case you were wondering, the cause of the time loop is never addressed, adding to the mystique and simplicity of the heartwarming film.
The film’s impact on Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Believe it or not, “Groundhog Day” wasn’t even filmed in Punxsutawney or at Gobbler’s Knob. (More on that in the “fun facts” below.) But the movie certainly had a huge impact on the small town: Groundhog Day celebrations went from seeing about 5,000 spectators every year to somewhere around 35,000, President of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Tom Dunkel, explained to KTLA sister station WTAJ.
“I would say it was the catalyst,” Dunkel said of the film.
“Bill Murray was a lot of fun. He was very cordial to everybody in Punxsutawney and he was signing autographs — a very nice man,” Dunkel added. “Of course, it wasn’t filmed here but he came here and was on stage with Punxsutawney Phil, he held Punxsutawney Phil up on stage on Groundhog Day morning. He wanted to get a feel for the energy and what it was like to be at Groundhog Day. I’m sure he has fond memories of it just like we do.”
Fun facts about Groundhog Day (1993):
- Murray’s character evolved to be a much better human being during the film. At times, when director Harold Ramis’ would explain a scene, Murry would simply ask “Good Phil or Bad Phil?” so he knew how to play the character.
- Murray was bitten twice by the groundhog while filming and even needed to get rabies shots just in case, IMDb reports. (No, Punxsutawney Phil was not used in the making of this film.)
- The film wasn’t shot in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, but rather in Woodstock, Illinois. During the scene downtown with Phil’s old schoolmate Ned Ryerson, a sign for Woodstock Jewelers is seen in the background.
- Ramis, Murray, and Stephen Tobolowsky (Ned Ryerson) have been honorary Grand Marshals in Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day.
- Other famous actors were considered for the lead of Phil Connors that director Harold Ramis thought were “too nice,” including Chevy Chase, Steven Martin, Robin Williams, and Michael Keaton. Keaton allegedly turned down the role citing it all seemed too confusing.
You can check out even more trivia about the film on its IMDb page.
If you’re looking to enjoy Groundhog Day while watching “Groundhog Day,” there are a few streaming options available — and of course plenty of platforms where you can rent or buy it.