A failed effort to revive the big-budget movie musical, Newsies attempted to create toe-tapping, song-and-dance excitement out of the true story of an 1899 strike by newspaper boys against publishing magnate Joseph Pulitzer.
The newsies band together to protest a pay cut by Pulitzer (Robert Duvall), organizing a union to protect their rights and ensure fair wages. They are helped along the way by Medda (Ann-Margret), a local dance-hall performer who befriends the boys and provides an opportunity for an additional song or two.
Director Kenny Ortega had previously choreographed Dirty Dancing, and composer Alan Menken had provided the acclaimed scores for Beauty and the Beast and Little Shop of Horrors, but their work here failed to capture the spark of their popular successes.
Unable to connect with older or younger viewers, Newsies gained a reputation as a major bomb that cut short an attempt to bring back the live-action musical, though in the intervening years it has gained a small but appreciative cult.