In the late 1980s, Danny Rubin, who was writing industrial film scripts at the time, made a list of his 10 best ideas. The final entry on the list read, "A man lives the same day over and over." After the No. 2 idea on Rubin's list got sold and made into Hear No Evil starring Marlee Matlin, an agent wanted another script, and Rubin chose that No. 10 idea—which became Groundhog Day. Why did Rubin choose to center the movie around a holiday, which he decided to set on Feb. 2? He was hoping, as S.I. Rosenbaum explains in an extensive piece for the New Yorker, that the film would become a "holiday cable perennial." It worked. Rosenbaum traces the film's journey, from Rubin's first draft to the final draft, from the movie's initial modest success to its current cult status. Despite its insane popularity, Rubin never went on to have another hit.
Hollywood people kept trying to get him to make another movie, but he didn't want to make just a standard rom-com, and he turned them all down. "I was always thinking, I’m not a one-hit wonder, I’m not a one-hit wonder!" he tells Rosenbaum. "But even if I am—OK, that’s more than most people get." Then, in 2012, Rubin's own life began to resemble Groundhog Day when Tim Minchin and Matthew Warchus approached him about turning the film into a musical. They had to convince him they weren't going to ditch him along the way, and they didn't—Rubin has been a part of the entire process, which resulted in the beloved movie becoming a beloved musical. "I'm the guy who wrote Groundhog Day," Rubin says, but he's not bitter about it. "It’s delightful to be so associated with something so well loved." The full piece is worth a read. (Read more Longform stories.)