Playing favorites

Jon Peters reveals the eight films that have meant the most to him during his career

With a producer credit on more than 40 movies, it seems like it would be difficult for Jon Peters to pick the top eight that are the most meaningful to him. Actually, it couldn't have been easier.

1. Superman Returns (2006)
"When I saw (1977's) 'Star Wars,' I thought to myself, 'I want to do something like that,'" Peters says. "Superman Returns" was the culmination of the goal, taking 13 years for it to arrive on the big screen, amid different directors, drafts, producing-credit squabbles and a long, long search for the right guy to pull off the red cape. "When we met, 14 years ago, that was one of the first things he spoke to me about," Peters' wife and producing partner, Mindy Peters, says.

2. Batman (1989)
Comparatively speaking, "Batman" was a breeze -- it took only nine years to come together -- between casting squabbles, the writers strike and conflicts with the studio (Warner Bros. Pictures) over the tone of the piece. "All the things that Superman could do, Batman couldn't do," Peters muses. "He couldn't fly, you didn't have Krypton." That being said, the tale of the Dark Knight found its audience to the tune of $413 million worldwide and unleashed a coven of sequels and merchandise.

3. Rain Man (1988)
Another hard sell -- the story of a self-centered guy who has to take care of his autistic brother -- the film went on to win the best picture Oscar. Peters' rough upbringing helped mold the rough-hewn edges of Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise). "I remember when Steven Spielberg called me -- at one point, he was going to be the director -- and he wanted Tom Cruise to meet with me," Peters says. "He said, 'You're kind of a street guy, and you would relate to that character.'"

4. The Color Purple (1985)
The adaptation of Alice Walker's story resonates with Peters not only because of the endurance of the tale but because of the talent involved. "Oprah was someone we found in Chicago -- Oprah!" he exclaims. "And Whoopi Goldberg was like a street comic doing her thing with her daughter outside the men's room at this club."

5. Caddyshack (1980)
Call it the Frat Pack, part one: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and Harold Ramis tearing up the greens in the eminently quotable golf comedy. For the big golf course explosion at the end, Peters got sneaky: "We went to the people that owned the golf course and went, 'Look, we can't really afford to do this in CGI, so can we blow up part of the golf course?' And they said absolutely not. We threw a wrap party at a (different) golf course -- and invited all those people. As they went over (to the party), we blew up their golf course. It cost us about $250,000 to put the golf course back together, but I think the CGI to do it was about another million. So, we saved money!"

6. A Star Is Born (1976)
Peters' first movie is the one he calls the most difficult because it required the industry's perception of him to transition from Barbra Streisand's hairdresser to her producer. "No one believed we could do this. One of the magazines called it 'A Star Is Shorn' and had a picture of me, with a big pair of scissors, and Barbra's hair -- bald." Peters had the last laugh: "Star" has grossed more than $100 million in theatrical and DVD release combined.

7. Rosewood (1997)
While this is one Peters' smaller films, he considers it one of the most important that he's been involved with. Directed by John Singleton and focusing on a 1923 attack on a black town in Florida, it raised hackles. "We went down there, and the first week of shooting, we had the Ku Klux Klan show up," Peters says. "They were starting to push John around, and I remember grabbing one of these guys and putting him up against the wall, saying, 'Hey, you have no business being here.' We almost got arrested."

8. Ali (2001)
Muhammad Ali is one of Peters' heroes, and the producer credits Mindy with the inspiration to cast Will Smith. "We made (1999's) "Wild, Wild West" -- which isn't a part of this eight," he notes, laughing, "but we got close to (Will). We were in Europe promoting the movie, and it was Mindy who said, 'You know, he would be an amazing Ali.'"