The Blues Brothers is a 1980 American musical Technicolor comedy film directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as "Joliet" Jake and Elwood Blues, characters developed from "The Blues Brothers" musical sketch on the NBC variety series Saturday Night Live.
It features musical numbers by rhythm and blues (R&B), soul, and blues singers James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker. The film is set in and around Chicago, Illinois, and features non-musical supporting performances by John Candy, Carrie Fisher, Charles Napier, and Henry Gibson.
The story is a tale of redemption for paroled convict Jake and his brother Elwood, who take on "a mission from God" to save from foreclosure the Catholic orphanage in which they grew up. To do so, they must reunite their R&B band and organize a performance to earn $5,000 to pay the tax assessor. Along the way, they are targeted by a destructive "mystery woman", Neo-Nazis, and a country and western band—all while being relentlessly pursued by the police.
Universal Studios, which had won the bidding war for the film, was hoping to take advantage of Belushi's popularity in the wake of Saturday Night Live, Animal House, and the Blues Brothers' musical success; it soon found itself unable to control production costs. The start of principal photography was delayed when Aykroyd, new to film screenwriting, took six months to deliver a long and unconventional script that Landis had to rewrite before production, which began without a final budget. On location in Chicago, Belushi's partying and drug use caused lengthy and costly delays that, along with the destructive car chases depicted onscreen, made the final film one of the most expensive comedies ever produced.
Concerns that the film would fail limited its initial bookings to less than half those a film of its magnitude normally received. Released in the United States on June 20, 1980, it received generally positive reviews. It earned just under $5 million in its opening weekend and went on to gross $115.2 million in theaters worldwide before its release on home video. It has become a cult classic, spawning the sequel, Blues Brothers 2000, 18 years later.