In 1899, 17-year-old Jack "Cowboy" Kelly is one of many struggling newspaper hawkers
in New York City, selling copies of the New York World
on the streets of Manhattan
("Carrying the Banner"). When David Jacobs and his younger brother Les join the "newsies", Jack notices David's intelligence and Les's marketable cuteness and self-servingly takes them under his wing. Unlike most of the newsies, David and Les are not orphans or runaways; they have a home and family, and go to work in order to help their family get back on their feet financially, as their father was fired from his factory job due to an injury. Jack is invited to the Jacobs' home for dinner, where he becomes enamored with their sister Sarah. Later, Jack laments his isolation due to lacking a family of his own; he fantasizes about traveling to New Mexico
, about which he has heard many romantic stories ("Santa Fe").
Attempting to outdo his business rival William Randolph Hearst
, New York World
publisher Joseph Pulitzer
raises the prices that the newsies must pay to buy newspapers from his distribution centers. Angered, Jack and David galvanize the other Manhattan newsies to go on strike
("The World Will Know"). While the others spread the word to newsies in New York's other boroughs
, Jack and Les confront Pulitzer and are thrown out of his office. Bryan Denton, a reporter for The Sun
, takes an interest in the boys' story. Jack and David take their cause to the Brooklyn
newsies, but their leader, "Spot" Conlon, is reluctant to join the strike. This dejects the Manhattan newsies, but David riles them up ("Seize the Day"). As a result, they ambush the distribution center and destroy all of the newspapers. Disabled newsie "Crutchie" is captured by Pulitzer's enforcers, the Delancey brothers, and placed in an orphanage
and juvenile detention center
called the Refuge, run by the sketchy Warden Snyder, who neglects the orphans so that he can embezzle money given to him by the city for their care.
The newsies try to ward off strikebreakers
, but the struggle turns violent and turns out to be a trap set by the Delancey brothers. Just as the newsies are about to be arrested, Spot Conlon arrives with the Brooklyn newsies and the two groups unite to repel the police. Denton puts the story on the front page of The Sun
. Thrilled, the newsies all rejoice at making the headline and imagine what it would be like to be famous ("King of New York"). They then plan to hold a rally. Snyder informs Pulitzer that Jack is an escapee from the Refuge, giving Pulitzer legal cause to have him arrested. Jack has breakfast with Sarah on the roof of the Jacobs' apartment building; he tells her of his desire to flee to Santa Fe, and wonders if she would miss him.
Newsies from around New York gather at Medda Larkin's Bowery. Jack, David, and Spot give speeches, encouraging the newsies to stick together and not give up on their cause. Before they all go back to their own boroughs, Medda cheers them up with a song ("High Times, Hard Times"). The police then break up the rally and arrest the newsies, but Denton steps in to pay their legal fines. Snyder testifies against Jack and reveals to the others that Jack's real name is Francis Sullivan; his mother is deceased and his father incarcerated. Jack is sentenced to four years of rehabilitation in the Refuge. Denton is reassigned as a war correspondent
and can no longer report on the strike. Jack is taken to see Pulitzer, who offers to waive his sentence and pay him a salary if he will work as a strikebreaker. When Pulitzer threatens to have the other newsies thrown into the Refuge, Jack complies. The boys attempt to rescue Jack, but he tells them to leave.
The newsies are shocked and dismayed to see Jack report for work the next day. When the Delanceys attack the Jacobs children, Jack steps in to save them, knowing this will break his deal with Pulitzer. The newsies learn from Denton that their strike has had little effect on public opinion, since the city thrives on child labor
and Pulitzer has ordered newspapers not to report on the strike. Using an old printing press of Pulitzer's, they publish a "Newsie Banner" which they distribute to child workers citywide ("Once and For All"). Denton shares the paper with Governor Theodore Roosevelt
, exposing the mistreatment of children at the Refuge. Numerous child laborers join the strike, bringing the city's workforce to a standstill. Jack and David confront Pulitzer, who finally gives in to their demands.
Roosevelt has Snyder arrested, releases the children from the Refuge, and thanks Jack for alerting him to the situation. He offers Jack a ride, and Jack asks to be taken to the train yards so he can head to Santa Fe. The newsies are disheartened by this, but Jack returns shortly, having been convinced by Roosevelt that he still has things to accomplish in New York. As the newsies celebrate his return, Sarah and Jack kiss, and Spot gets a ride back to Brooklyn from Roosevelt.
was released on April 10, 1992 via distributor Buena Vista Pictures
. The film did not recoup its $15 million budget, making less than a fifth of that at the box office. Newsies
has since gained a measurable fan base.
On Rotten Tomatoes
, the film's average score is 39% based on 38 reviews, with an average rating of 5/10. The critical consensus reads: "Extra! Extra! Read all about Newsies
instead of suffering through its underwhelming musical interludes, although Christian Bale makes for a spirited hero."
, the film has a weighted average score of 46 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The film grossed $2,819,485 domestically. The film did not recoup its $15 million budget, making less than a fifth of that at the box office.
It also ranks among the lowest-grossing live-action films produced by the Walt Disney Studios
. This is due to the film being pulled from many theaters after a poor opening weekend. Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin
called it Howard the Paperboy
, noting "This ambitious (up to a point) project is done in by a lackluster score, and by cramped production numbers that seem cheap despite the movie's hefty production budget -- not to mention its bloated running time." 
The actual newsboys' strike of 1899
lasted from July 20 to August 2. The leader of the strike was a one-eyed young man named Louis Balletti, 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, while the role of strike leader is given to the fictional Jack "Cowboy" Kelly. Kid Blink and another real-life newsie, Morris Cohen, were the inspiration for Kelly. The actual strike ended with a compromise: the World
agreed to buy back all unsold copies of the newspapers.
The musical opened to previews on Broadway
at the Nederlander Theatre
for a limited engagement from March 15, 2012 to March 28, 2012 in previews and from March 29, 2012 to June 10, 2012 in its official engagement.
This was later extended through August 19, 2012 after the first weekend of previews and then extended again, this time to an open-ended run.
The show went on to earn eight Tony Award
nominations, including Best Musical
winning Best Choreography
and Best Original Score
The show closed on August 24, 2014 having played 1,004 performances.
- ^ "The News Boys (PG/CUT)". British Board of Film Classification. July 30, 1992. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
- ^ a b Collis, Clark (August 31, 2007). "Spotlight on Christian Bale". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- ^ "Teen Beat 1993". Newsies. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
- ^ Harris, Kathryn (May 21, 1992). "A Dilemma for Disney : Films in Its Latest Financing Deal Have Mostly Been Clunkers". LA Times. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- ^ a b c "Newsies (1992)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
- ^ "Newsies (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- ^ "Newsies Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- ^ Maltin's TV, Movie & Video Guide
- ^ Sorokoff, Stephen (September 26, 2011). "Photo Coverage: Newsies Opening Night Curtain Call!". Broadway World. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
- ^ Jones, Kenneth (September 21, 2010). "Harvey Fierstein Is Librettist for Newsies Musical, With Songs by Menken and Feldman". Playbill. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- ^ Itzkoff, Dave (February 14, 2011). "Extra, Extra! 'Newsies' Musical to Open Paper Mill Playhouse Season". The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
- ^ Jones, Kenneth (November 15, 2011). "Read All About It: Disney's Newsies Gets Spring 2012 Broadway Engagement". Playbill. Archived from the original on June 27, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- ^ "'Newsies' extends Broadway run". United Press International. March 19, 2012. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
- ^ Healy, Patrick (May 1, 2012). "'Once' Leads the 2012 Tony Awards Nominations". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
- ^ Wells, Matt; Cote, David (2012-06-11). "Tony awards 2012: Once scoops eight gongs on night of upsets". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2020-10-05. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
- ^ "'Newsies' to Close in August". The New York Times. 22 June 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- ^ Bowgen, Philippe (June 23, 2014). "Disney Musical Newsies to End Broadway Run". Playbill. Archived from the original on June 25, 2014.
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