As Ivan Reitman said:
“I can get the money and would like to produce it — let’s go. […] It seemed like a great idea. I’d never seen an animated film since early childhood that excited me, so I thought it would be a challenge to make one. […] Anyhow, I’ve seen most of the science-fiction and fantasy films ever made. I’m a big buff, so I really wanted to do an adult fantasy.”
Reitman’s enthusiasm wasn’t enough though. The appeal of “Stripes” was. Reitman’s 1981 comedy film was a notable film in comedy films of the decade, bringing Bill Murray to the fore in a big way, and involving rising talents like Harold Ramis and John Candy. The film follows a slugabed cab driver (Murray) who, having lost his job and girlfriend, decides to enlist in the army. Murray, however, provided an affable, dismissive slovenliness to his role, standing in contrast to the stuffed shirts in the military. It was a famous “snobs vs. slobs” comedy.
It would go on to make $83 million on a $10 million budget.
“Heavy Metal” was a massive undertaking, of course, but Reitman didn’t flinch. He was still in his 20s at the time and was eager to tackle the challenges. The anthology approach was his idea. He said:
“Though the artwork makes the magazine, you get bored with animation, the wonder of the designs, after ten minutes. So I figured, if we put together segments of shifting designs and story approaches, yet make them somehow connected, we could have the best of all worlds.”
Once the ethos was selected, it was off to the races. “Heavy Metal” hit theaters in August of 1981, only a few months after “Stripes.” It was a good time to be a teenager.