Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kevin Reynolds|
|Produced by||Kevin Costner
|Written by||Peter Rader
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Editing by||Peter Boyle|
Licht/Mueller Film Corporation
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||135 minutes
176 minutes (extended television cut)
Waterworld is a 1995 American post-apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Kevin Reynolds and co-written by Peter Rader and David Twohy. It was based on Rader's original 1986 screenplay and stars Kevin Costner, who also produced it with Charles Gordon and John Davis. It was distributed by Universal Pictures.
The setting of the film is the distant future. Although no exact date was given in the film itself, it has been suggested that it takes place in 2500. The polar ice caps have completely melted, and the sea level has risen many hundreds of meters, covering nearly all the land. The film illustrates this with an unusual variation on the Universal logo, which begins with the usual image of Earth, but shows the planet's water levels gradually rising and the polar ice caps melting until nearly all the land is submerged. The plot of the film centers on an otherwise nameless antihero, "The Mariner", a drifter who sails the Earth in his trimaran.
The most expensive film ever made at the time, Waterworld was released to mixed reviews and was unable to recoup its massive budget at the box office. The film's release was accompanied by a tie-in novel, video game, and three themed attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Singapore, and Universal Studios Japan called Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular, which are all still running as of 2013.
In the future (year 2500), the polar ice caps have melted due to global warming, and the sea level has risen hundreds of meters, covering every continent and turning Earth into a water planet. Human population has been scattered across the ocean in individual, isolated communities consisting of artificial islands and mostly decrepit sea vessels. It was so long since the events that the humans eventually forgot that there were continents in the first place and that there is a place on Earth called "Dryland", a mythical place.
A drifter, known only as "the Mariner", sails the seas in his trimaran. He enters an artificial atoll city in the shallower part of the ocean seeking to trade dirt, which is a precious commodity. He is instantly asked how he found it, but he refuses. It is later revealed that he is not a human, but a mutant with webbed feet and gills, an evolutionary step in some of the humans to accommodate the changes in climate. The fearful atollers vote to "recycle" him by drowning him in a yellow sludge brine pool. At that moment, local sea pirates, known as "Smokers", raid the atoll, having been tipped off by a Smoker spy posing as a trader, known as "the Nord".
The Smokers are searching for an orphan girl named Enola, who has what appears to be a map and directions to Dryland tattooed on her back. The girl and her guardian, Helen, the atoll's shopkeeper, plan to escape with Gregor, the atoll's expert inventor, in the hopes of finding Dryland. Unfortunately, Gregor's escape method, a hydrogen-filled balloon made of old rags, launches too early with him on it, leaving Helen and Enola stranded. They instead escape with the Mariner, who agrees to take them with him because they saved his life, though he is ill at ease with their company, as he prefers solitude, and finds them to be a nuisance. Chasing them is "the Deacon", who is the captain of a derelict oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez, and the leader of the Smokers, who are armed with old military weapons and jet skis. He wants the map to Dryland to arrive and build a first city in which he will rule and has a number of skirmishes with the Mariner while trying to get Enola. After Helen's naive actions during a battle with the Smokers result in significant damage to the Mariner's boat, he angrily cuts their hair very short. After this incident, the Mariner gradually warms up to them and teaches Enola to swim in case of an emergency.
Helen convinced that Dryland exists and she demands to know where the Mariner finds his dirt. The Mariner, able to breathe underwater, puts her in a diving bell and swims down to the ruins of Denver, where he collects the dirt and other items from the bottom of the sea for trade, with Helen realizing that this is the former civilization (she believed that the humans always lived on water, not on the land). While they are underwater, the Deacon and his Smokers board the boat, burn it, and capture Enola while the Mariner and Helen barely escape. Since Helen cannot breathe underwater, the Mariner breathes for the both of them, resulting in an underwater kiss of life. They resurface and board the wreckage of the Mariner's trimaran, where they are later rescued by Gregor. He takes them to a new makeshift atoll where the survivors of the first atoll attack have regrouped.
Using a jet ski, the Mariner chases down the Exxon Valdez and boards it. There, the Deacon is having a celebration, tossing gifts of cigarettes and Smeat (a Spam-like canned meat) to the crew, proclaiming they have found the map to Dryland. After they have all gone below decks to row, the Mariner walks out onto the deck and threatens to drop a flare into the oil reserves unless the Deacon releases Enola. The Deacon, into believing that the Mariner is bluffing, refuses, so the Mariner drops the flare into a vent of the oil reserve tank. The ship explodes, and the Mariner escapes with Enola by climbing a rope up to Gregor's balloon. The Deacon, still alive, makes a grab for Enola, but Helen throws a metal object which strikes him in the forehead, causing him to fall into the water. He pulls out his pistol and shoots at the balloon, hitting one of the lines, causing Enola to fall into the sea. The Deacon and two other Smokers, all on jet skis, converge on Enola. The Mariner ties a bungee cord around his ankle and jumps down to grab Enola, pulling her out of the water just as the jet skis collide and explode.
Gregor deciphers the map, translating the Asian symbols using an old and tattered China Airlines magazine. He realizes that they are latitude and longitude coordinates, and steers his balloon in that direction. The group finds Dryland, which turns out to be the peak of Mount Everest, still above sea level and no longer a snowy peak, where they find horses and other wildlife. Gregor, Enola, Helen and the others land and find the remains of Enola's parents in a hut. The group prepares to settle, but the Mariner decides he must leave, explaining to Enola that the ocean, his only home, calls to him. He sails away, taking a boat left by the former inhabitants.
- Kevin Costner as The Mariner
- Dennis Hopper as The Deacon
- Jeanne Tripplehorn as Helen
- Tina Majorino as Enola
- Michael Jeter as Old Gregor
- Jack Black as Smoker Plane Pilot
- Kim Coates as Drifter #2
- Robert Joy as Smoker Ledger Guy
- Robert LaSardo as Smitty
- Gerard Murphy as The Nord
- R. D. Call as Atoll Enforcer
- John Fleck as Smoker Doctor
- John Toles-Bey as Smoker Plane Gunner (Ed)
- Zakes Mokae as Priam
- Sab Shimono, Leonardo Cimino, and Zitto Kazann as Atoll Elders
- Rick Aviles as Atoll Gatesman #1
- Jack Kehler as Atoll Banker
- Chris Douridas as Atoller #7
- Robert A. Silverman as Hydroholic
- Neil Giuntoli as Hellfire Gunner (Chuck)
- William Preston as Smoker Depth Gauge Guy
- Sean Whalen as Bone
- Lee Arenberg as Djeng
The film marked the fourth collaboration between Costner and Reynolds, who had previously worked together on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Fandango (1985), and Rapa Nui (1994), the latter of which Costner coproduced but did not star in. Waterworld was cowritten by David Twohy, who cited Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior as a major inspiration. Both films employed Dean Semler as director of photography. Gene Hackman, James Caan, Laurence Fishburne, and Gary Oldman all turned down the role of the Deacon. Anna Paquin was the first choice to play Enola.
During production, the film was plagued by a series of cost overruns and production setbacks. Universal initially authorized a budget of $100 million, but production costs eventually ran to an estimated $175 million, a record sum for a film production at the time. Filming took place in a large artificial seawater enclosure similar to that used in the film Titanic two years later; it was located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii. The final scene was filmed in Waipio Valley on the Big Island, also referred to as The Valley of Kings. The production was hampered by the collapse of the multi-million dollar set during a hurricane. Additional filming took place in Los Angeles, Huntington Beach, and Santa Catalina Island, and the Channel Islands of California.
The production featured different types of personal watercraft (PWC), especially Kawasaki jet skis. Kevin Costner was on the set for 157 days, working 6 days a week. At one point, he nearly died when he got caught in a squall while tied to the mast of his trimaran. Laird Hamilton, the well-known surfer, was Kevin Costner’s stunt double for many water scenes. Hamilton, who commuted to the set via jet ski, was temporarily lost at sea when his jet ski ran out of fuel between Maui and the Big Island. He drifted for hours before being spotted by a Coast Guard plane and rescued. When the abandoned jet ski washed up on shore on the island of Lanai, he retrieved it and drove it home. Stunt coordinator Norman Howell suffered from decompression sickness while filming an underwater scene and was rushed to a hospital in Honolulu by helicopter. He recovered quickly from the potentially life-threatening sickness and returned to the set two days later. Tina Majorino was nicknamed "Jellyfish Candy" by Costner after she was stung three different times by jellyfish during production.
Mark Isham's score, which was not recorded and only demos were completed for approximately 25% of the film, was reportedly rejected by Costner because it was "too ethnic and bleak", contrasting the film's futuristic and adventurous tone; Isham offered to try again and was not given the chance. James Newton Howard was brought in to write the new score. Joss Whedon flew out to the set to do last minute rewrites on the script and later described it as "seven weeks of hell".
The state of Hawaii had more than $35 million added to its economy as a result of the colossal film production. Rumors abound that, after the filming ran notoriously over-budget, Kevin Costner fired Kevin Reynolds as director and shot the last few scenes himself. Other rumors suggest Reynolds was not fired, but simply walked off set with two weeks of filming left. Despite their reported clashes, the director and star reunited almost two decades later for the History Channel miniseries Hatfields & McCoys.
Inspired by racing trimarans built by Jeanneau Advanced Technologies' multi-hull division Lagoon; a custom 60 foot (18 m) yacht was designed by Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot-Prevost and built in France by Lagoon. Two versions were built, a relatively standard racing trimaran for distance shots, and an effects-laden transforming trimaran for closeup shots. The first trimaran was launched on 2 April 1994, and surpassed 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) in September of that year. The transforming version was first seen in the film as a sort of raft with a three-bladed egg-beater windmill. When needed, levers could be triggered that would flatten the windmill blades while raising a hidden mast to full racing height. A boom emerged, previously hidden in the hull, and the two sails were automatically unfurled. Once the transformation was complete this version could actually sail, although not as well as the dedicated racer. The first boat is stored in a lake at Universal Studios Florida, and the second is in private hands in San Diego, California.
Box office 
With a budget of $175 million (not including marketing and distribution costs, which were a further $60 million for a total outlay of $235 million), the film grossed $88 million at the North American box office, which seemed to make it the all time box office bomb. The film did better overseas, with $176 million at the foreign box office, for a worldwide total of $264 million. However, even though this figure surpasses the total costs spent by the studio, it does not take into account the percentage of box office gross that theaters retain, which is generally up to half. It was not until successful home video sales that Waterworld made a profit.
Critical reception 
Contemporary reviews for the film were mostly negative. Roger Ebert said of Waterworld: "The cost controversy aside, Waterworld is a decent futuristic action picture with some great sets, some intriguing ideas, and a few images that will stay with me. It could have been more, it could have been better, and it could have made me care about the characters. It's one of those marginal pictures you're not unhappy to have seen, but can't quite recommend." James Berardinelli of Reelviews Movie Reviews was one of the film's few supporters calling it "one of Hollywood's most lavish features to date". He wrote: "Although the storyline isn't all that invigorating, the action is, and that's what saves Waterworld. In the tradition of the old Westerns and Mel Gibson's Mad Max flicks, this film provides good escapist fun. Everyone behind the scenes did their part with aplomb, and the result is a feast for the eyes and ears."
At Metacritic, the film has a "metascore" of 56/100, in the range of "Mixed or average reviews". At Rotten Tomatoes, the film is rated "rotten" with a Tomatometer score of 42% and an averaged rating of 5.1 with the critical concession being "Though it suffered from toxic buzz at the time of its release, Waterworld is ultimately an ambitious misfire: an extravagant sci-fi flick with some decent moments and a lot of silly ones."
Awards and nominations 
|Academy Awards||Best Sound Mixing||Steve Maslow, Gregg Landaker and Keith A. Wester||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Science Fiction Film||Nominated|
|Best Costumes||John Bloomfield||Nominated|
|BAFTA Film Awards||Best Visual Effects||Michael J. McAlister, Brad Kuehn, Robert Spurlock and Martin Bresin||Nominated|
|Golden Raspberry Awards||Worst Picture||Nominated|
|Worst Actor||Kevin Costner||Nominated|
|Worst Director||Kevin Reynolds||Nominated|
|Worst Supporting Actor||Dennis Hopper||Won|
Video games 
Video games based on the film were released for the Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Virtual Boy, and PC. There was to be a release for the Sega Genesis, but it was canceled and was only available on the Sega Channel. A Sega Saturn version of the game was also planned and development was completed but like its Genesis counterpart it was also cancelled prior to release. The Super Nintendo and Game Boy releases were only available in the United Kingdom and Australia. While the Super Nintendo and Virtual Boy versions were released by Ocean Software, the PC version was released by Interplay. The game received negative reviews; the Virtual Boy version was marked as the worst Virtual Boy game ever released out of the 22 games produced for it.[according to whom?]
A tie-in novel was written by Max Allan Collins and published by Arrow Books. The novel goes into greater detail regarding the world of the film.
Comic books 
A sequel comic book four-issue mini-series entitled Waterworld: Children of Leviathan was released by Acclaim Comics in 1997. Kevin Costner did not permit his likeness to be used for the comics, so the Mariner looks different. The story reveals some of the Mariner's back-story as he gathers clues about where he came from and why he is different. The comic expands on the possible cause of the melting of the polar ice caps and worldwide flood, and introduces a new villain, "Leviathan", who supplied the Deacon's Smoker organization. The comic hints at the possibility that the Mariner's mutation may not be caused by evolution but by genetic engineering and that his origins may be linked to those of the "Sea Eater", the sea monster seen during the fishing scene in the film.
Theme park attractions 
There are attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Japan, and Universal Studios Singapore based on the film. The show's plot takes place immediately after the movie, as Helen returns to the Atoll with proof of Dryland, only to find herself followed by the Deacon, who survived the events of the movie. The Mariner arrives immediately after him, defeats the Deacon and takes Helen back to Dryland while the Atoll explodes.
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- Eller, Claudia; Welkos, Robert W. (1994-09-16). "Plenty of Riptides on 'Waterworld' Set : With key crew people quitting and reported turmoil, logistical and organizational problems, the big-budget film, scheduled for release in summer of '95, could end up costing more than any movie ever made.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
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- Natale, Richard (1995-07-31). "Waterworld Sails to No. 1 : Movies: The $175-million production takes in $21.6 million in its first weekend. But unless it enlarges its appeal, it will probably gross about half its cost.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
- Eyerly, Alan (1995-07-31). "Strong Opening Weekend for 'Waterworld': Fans: Why do people endure epic waits in line to see big movies? It's, like, a party.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
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- Parish, James Robert (2006). Fiasco - A History of Hollywood’s Iconic Flops. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-69159-4. 359 pages
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