18.07.24 Saving Private Ryan Turns 20

July 24, 2018
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20 Years Ago Today: ‘Saving Private Ryan’ opened #1 at the box office

The WWII film, hailed by critics and veterans alike for its realistic battle depictions, was inspired by the true life story of the Niland brothers.

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Saving Private Ryan

  • Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks & Matt Damon
  • Cost $70M, including $12M on Omaha Beach D-Day scene.
  • Spielberg didn’t use story boards for notorious D-Day scene, relying instead on photos & news reels.
  • The graphic violence nearly earned it an “NC-17” rating and prevented Spielberg from letting his 13-year-old son see his film.

The Niland Brothers

Four Niland brothers hailed from Tonawanda, NY.

Brothers all served during WWII, but they were separated into different units after the tragedy of the 5 A Sullivan brothers, who served and died together when the USS Juneau sank in 1942 in the South Pacific.

Two Niland brothers survived WWII.
“The minute we finished the D-Day/Omaha Beach sequence, I knew we had something really special to show audiences around the world.A I think all of us who worked on that film – from Director Steven Spielberg down to the lowliest extra in crowd scenes – can be proud that we had a part in making Saving Private Ryan.”

Capt. Dale Dye, senior military advisor on 'Saving Private Ryan' to SmartHER News

SPR is Spielberg's 10th highest grossing film ($329M in 2018 dollars). His #1? A Shark Week favorite, 'JAWS' earned $1.2B in 2018 dollars.

“When you make something as subjective and perishable as movies or scripted TV shows, being a part of one that rises above the rest and promises to be around for many generations is a remarkable experience.A When a project like that – such as Saving Pvt. Ryan – celebrates the rugged, determined Americans who fought and won World War II, it’s especially rewarding.A You never know when you’re making a movie, how audiences will react.A I didn’t have that problem with SPR.”

-A Capt. Dale Dye, senior military advisor on ‘Saving Private Ryan’ to SmartHER News

by Jenna Lee,