A crazed sniper is set to kill spectators at an L.A. Coliseum football championship game and the police races against time to eliminate him.
Two-Minute Warning (1976) Online
A psychotic sniper plans a massive killing spree in a Los Angeles football stadium during a major championship game. The police, led by Captain Peter Holly and SWAT commander Sergeant Button, learn of the plot and rush to the scene.
|Cast overview, first billed only:|
|Charlton Heston||-||Capt. Peter Holly|
|John Cassavetes||-||Sgt. Button|
|Martin Balsam||-||Sam McKeever|
|Beau Bridges||-||Mike Ramsay|
|Walter Pidgeon||-||The Pickpocket|
|Mitchell Ryan||-||The Priest|
|Joe Kapp||-||Charlie Tyler|
|Pamela Bellwood||-||Peggy Ramsay|
There was a later version released (to NBC television) that had footage not shown in theaters. In the original theatrical version, the sniper's motives were not known. In the later television version, it was revealed that the attack was done to cover an art robbery next door.
The movie was deemed too violent to show intact on broadcast television, so they re-wrote the story and added a heist element. The re-written material minimized both the main storyline and the subplots.
Actors who appeared in the film's television version who didn't appear in the cinema movie included Rossano Brazzi, Joanna Pettet, Paul Shenar, James Olson, and William Prince. Warren Miller reprised his role as "The Sniper" and Charlton Heston shot three short new scenes for the television version. Heston's hair is of a noticeably different color in these new scenes.
The film from Universal Pictures is considered part of the 1970s cycle of Hollywood Disaster Movies. A year later, Paramount Pictures released the similarly themed Black Sunday (1977) which instead of a sniper threat had a terrorist plot at the Super Bowl. The same 1977 year saw Universal also produce Rollercoaster (1977) with bomb caused accidents at amusement parks. Moreover, a line of dialogue in Two-Minute Warning (1976) referred to "Sudden Death" in the football game, Staigi mirtis (1995) also being the title of the Universal's similarly themed later 90s disaster movie where a terrorist plot threatens an ice-hockey match.
Susan Backlinie appears as a loyal Los Angeles fan who flashes her shirt at the cameras (seen briefly on a television monitor). A two page article in 'Saga' magazine from July 1976 reveals a deleted scene in which she flashes her breasts at the crowd. According to this article, her character was a call-girl named 'Miss Pear Tits'.
Andy Sidaris, as "TV Director", is essentially playing himself. He was a frequent director of ABC Sports, including the Superbowl, and is referred to by other characters as "Andy".
The American football match was between Baltimore and Los Angeles but neither team was given a mascot name. The name of the grand final game they were playing was called "Championship X".
Newspaper press advertisements for the re-worked television version of this movie featured a long text preamble that read: "In an action unprecedented in television history - a major motion picture has been re-filmed for its television presentation. The production has been enhanced with more than 40 minutes of new footage! We guarantee you'll thrill to the excitement and drama of this story of an arena full of fans terrorized to divert attention from a multi-million robbery!"
A marketing gimmick devised by Universal Pictures to promote the film, stated that patrons were not allowed to enter theaters showing the picture once the film's football game's "two-minute warning" had started.
Most of the movie was filmed at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum after the 1975 American football season had ended. Game footage seen in the picture was taken from a Pac-8 college football game between Stanford (4-3-1) and USC (7-1), where Stanford won 13-10. The game was played on November 8, 1975 at the Coliseum.
The production team actually contacted the National Football League about using the NFL and its team and uniforms as part of the film. NFL executives asked "What's the film about?" After they given a brief synopsis, they said that they would not bother reading the script because there was zero chance of the league ever lending any support to such a movie. Interestingly, a few years later the NFL did not object to the movie "Black Sunday" using real teams and game footage as part of its terrorism/bloodshed-set story.
The film's "Two-minute Warning" title is a sports term taken from the American Gridiron National Football League. A "two-minute warning" is made when there are only two minutes of game time left at the end of the second and fourth quarters of an American football match.
The film was made and released one year after the source novel of the same name by George LaFountaine had been first published in 1975.
The notorious re-edited and re-worked television version of this movie premiered on NBC in prime-time on February 6, 1979. This version was conceived during negotiations between Universal Pictures and NBC in 1978, because NBC refused to air a film centered around a homicidal sniper. The network-television version was cut and added around 40 minutes, introducing a 30-minute art-heist robbery plot and losing around half the length of the film's original plot. This version is the most often one shown on broadcast television in the U.S. The television version of the movie was released for the first time on home media in June of 2016. almost 40 years after its first TV broadcast.
The film's originally scheduled release date (according to an ad in "Variety") was July 30, 1976.
Publicity for this picture declared that there was one sniper, thirty-three exit gates and 91,000 people. In the film's source book, the stadium had 75,000 people.
Director Larry Peerce had his name removed from the television version of this movie. The director credited for this was Gene Palmer. Although Peerce's name remains in the credits of the alternate version ("A Larry Peerce-Edward S. Feldman Film"), Palmer is credited as director. Francesca Turner, who wrote the teleplay scenes and who obviously had no credit in the cinema version, was added as a co-screenwriter alongside of Edward Hume who now had a shared billing.
The movie was Oscar nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing in 1977 but it lost out to Rokis (1976).
Universal spent an estimated 500,000 $ in December 1978 to shoot additional scenes for a television version of the movie.
Lead actor Charlton Heston later became the National Rifle Association's president.
The name of the sports stadium was the real-life Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The venue can be seen sporting Olympics Rings on its exterior wall adjacent to the arena's name. Los Angeles had unsuccessfully bid for the Olympic Games in 1976 which was the year the film was released; they were held in Montreal, Quebec. Los Angeles had hosted them in 1932, held them again in 1984, and had also unsuccessfully bid to host them in 1980. At the time the movie was made and released, Los Angeles had not yet been elected as the 1984 Olympics Host city as the vote did not occur until May 18, 1978. Four years prior to this sniper stadium disaster movie, the Palestinian terrorist group Black September held Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich 1972 Summer Olympic Games, this being the subject of the Academy Award winning documentary One Day in September (1999).
Former real-life Boston Patriots and Minnesota Vikings NFL quarterback Joe Kapp played a veteran NFL quarterback called Charlie Tyler.
Charlton Heston joked while doing promotional work for this movie, that it was a pleasant change to be doing a modern dress movie as you got to keep your costume. The majority of Heston's roles were in lavish costume dramas and historical epics.
Penultimate film of actor Walter Pidgeon, his last being two years later in 1978's Sextette (1977). Pidgeon's character in this film has no personal name and is only ever know as "The Pickpocket". Pidgeon actually once who co-starred in a film about pickpockets called Harry in Your Pocket (1973).
Actress Gena Rowlands and actor John Cassavetes were married but their characters in the movie were not love-interests.
The only non-Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to be nominated for Best Editing.
SWAT stands for "Special Weapons And Tactics".
The make and model of the gun that "The Sniper" had was a modified Remington 742 rifle fitted with a tele-scope and an extended 30-round magazine.
Capt. Holly compares Sgt. Button's SWAT team members to stormtroopers. This does not refer to the troops from Žvaigždžiu karai (1977) (which was released one year after this film) but the German soldiers from WW I.
Merv Griffin: The talk-show host as himself singing the American National Anthem at the football match.
The character known as "The Sniper" is finally revealed to be named Carl Cook in the theatrical version. His character is greatly expanded in the television version.
David Janssen described his experience using squibs to simulate gunshots: "You won't be burned if it's done properly. You'll feel the heat, though, and if you haven't had the experience before, it'll make you apprehensive, to say the least. Some actors have gone into a momentary state of shock."
In the original version, David Janssen's character is killed just as he comes back into the stadium. In the television version, he leaves the stadium just before the sniper starts shooting.