Splash (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Splash ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRon Howard
Screenplay byLowell Ganz
Babaloo Mandel
Bruce Jay Friedman
Screen Story byBruce Jay Friedman
Story byBrian Grazer
Produced byBrian Grazer
CinematographyDonald Peterman
Edited byDaniel P. Hanley
Mike Hill
Music byLee Holdridge
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • March 9, 1984 (1984-03-09)
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$11 million[1]
Box office$69.8 million[2]

Splash is a 1984 American fantasy romantic comedy film directed by Ron Howard, from a screenplay by Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, and Bruce Jay Friedman, and a story by Friedman and producer Brian Grazer, and starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, and Eugene Levy. It involves a young man who falls in love with a mysterious woman who is secretly a mermaid. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

The film is notable for being the first film released by Touchstone Pictures, a film label created by Walt Disney Studios that same year in an effort to release films targeted at adult audiences, with mature content not appropriate for the studio's flagship Walt Disney Pictures banner. Splash received a PG-rating for some profanity and brief nudity. Splash was critically and commercially successful, earning over $69 million on an $11 million budget, and received praise for the acting, humor, and chemistry between Hanks and Hannah.


In 1964, eight-year-old Allen Bauer and his family are taking a boat tour at Cape Cod. Allen is fascinated by something below the surface and jumps overboard. In the ocean, he encounters a young girl and inexplicably finds himself able to breathe underwater. However, Allen is rescued and pulled back to the surface, and the two are separated. Since no one else saw the girl, Allen comes to believe the encounter was a near-death hallucination.

In 1984, Allen is now co-owner of a wholesale fruit and vegetable business in New York City with his womanizing older brother Freddie. Through the years, Allen’s relationships have failed as he subconsciously seeks the connection he felt with the mysterious girl. Depressed after his latest breakup, Allen returns to Cape Cod, where he encounters eccentric scientist Dr. Walter Kornbluth on a diving expedition. When his motorboat malfunctions, Allen falls into the sea and is knocked unconscious; his wallet drops onto the coral below. He wakes up on a beach, in the presence of a beautiful naked woman who is unable to talk. After kissing him, she dives into the sea, where she transforms into a mermaid. While swimming underwater, she is sighted by Kornbluth.

The mermaid finds Allen's wallet, and uses a sunken ship’s charts to locate New York. She comes ashore naked at the Statue of Liberty and is arrested for indecent exposure. Using information from Allen’s wallet, the police contact him and the mysterious girl is released into his care. She learns how to speak English from watching television, and is eager to explore the city. Unable to say her real name in human language, she selects "Madison" from a Madison Avenue sign. She tells Allen that she will be in New York for "six fun-filled days until the moon is full"; unable to return home if she stays any longer. Despite Madison's occasionally outlandish behavior, she and Allen fall in love. Allen proposes to Madison, but she declines and runs away. After some contemplation, Madison returns to Allen and agrees to marry him, with the added promise of telling him the truth about herself after an upcoming dignitary dinner to welcome the President.

Meanwhile, Kornbluth, realizing that the naked woman at Liberty Island was the mermaid he encountered, pursues the couple, trying to expose her as a mermaid by splashing her with water. His first attempts are unsuccessful, and Kornbluth ends up with multiple injuries. Finally, he infiltrates the dignitary dinner, splashing Madison with a hose and successfully unmasking her identity. Madison is seized by government agents and taken to a secret lab, headed by Kornbluth's cold-hearted rival Dr. Ross for examination. As Madison withers away in captivity, Kornbluth learns that the scientists are planning to dissect her; causing him to regret his actions, for he just wanted to prove that he wasn’t crazy rather than cause actual harm.

Allen is shocked by Madison's secret and rejects her, but when he voices his disillusionment to his brother, Freddie lashes out at him, reminding Allen how happy he was with her. Realizing that he still loves Madison, Allen confronts the guilt-ridden Kornbluth, who having been rejected by his colleagues despite his discovery, agrees to help rescue her.

Impersonating Swedish scientists, Allen, Freddie, and Kornbluth enter the lab and smuggle Madison outside. Freddie decides to be arrested in Allen's place, while Kornbluth unsuccessfully tries to stop United States troops from catching the couple. Despite being pursued, Allen and Madison make it to New York Harbor. Madison tells Allen that he can survive underwater as long as he is with her, causing Allen to realize that she was the girl he had met underwater as a child. Madison warns him that if he comes to live in the sea, he cannot return to land. She jumps in the water when the troops close in on them. When more troops attempt to arrest Allen, he jumps into the water after her, but starts to drown as he cannot swim. Madison kisses him, gifting him the ability to swim and breathe underwater. Frogmen enter the water to recapture Madison and Allen, but the couple fight them off and escape, happily swimming toward what appears to be an underwater kingdom.



Screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel both make cameo appearances in the film. Ganz plays Stan the Tour Guide in the scene set at the Statue of Liberty. Mandel plays the man in charge of ice skate rentals who tackles Tom Hanks' character when he tries to run out with his skates still on. Director Ron Howard's father, actor Rance Howard, can be seen early in the film as Mr. McCullough, an unhappy customer screaming at Allen about his cherries. Howard's brother Clint Howard can be seen as a wedding guest, identified by Candy's character as the bride's brother and yelled at by Hanks.


The film was initially set up at United Artists, but Grazer decided to take the film elsewhere and took it to The Ladd Company, but Alan Ladd Jr. eventually passed on it.[3] According to the documentary on the Splash: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD in 2004, producer Brian Grazer had pitched the film to numerous studios but was turned down repeatedly until Walt Disney Productions, then headed by Ron W. Miller, agreed to produce the film. The key to the proposal's success was that Grazer changed the premise description from the idea of a mermaid adjusting to life in New York City to that about a love story about an ordinary man in New York City meeting a mermaid.[4] An issue at the time of production was the competition between Splash and another announced (but unnamed) mermaid film from Warner Bros. that had lined up Warren Beatty as its star. Director Ron Howard promised the studio that Splash would be filmed more quickly and cheaply than the other film, which eventually fell through. Howard turned down directing Footloose and Mr. Mom to direct Splash.[5] Many big name actors such as Jeff Bridges, Chevy Chase, Richard Gere, Dudley Moore, Michael Keaton, Kevin Kline, Bill Murray, and John Travolta were all considered for the lead role before the producers decided on the then lesser-known Tom Hanks.[6][7][8] Murray turned down the part as he wanted to move away from comedies and do serious films instead.[9] Steve Guttenberg also auditioned for the role.[10] Before Daryl Hannah was cast as Madison, it had already been turned down by Tatum O'Neal, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Genie Francis, Melanie Griffith, Fiona Fullerton, P.J. Soles, Diane Lane, Kathleen Turner, and Sharon Stone.[9]

Principal photography began on March 1, 1983 and completed on June 30, 1983 in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York. The beach where Hanks first encounters the nude Hannah is on the former Gorda Cay in the Bahamas, which now is known as Castaway Cay, the private island of Disney Cruise Line.

Hannah's mermaid tail was designed and created by Academy Award-winning visual effects artist Robert Short.[11] The tail was fully functional. Hannah swam with the mermaid tail so fast that her safety team could not keep pace with her. According to the DVD documentary, Hannah had been swimming "mermaid" style with her legs bound together since she was a child, due to her fascination with Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" story. However, the exceptionally detailed film tail was difficult to remove. For the sake of efficiency, Hannah at first kept it on while the cast had lunch. In the documentary included on the 20th-anniversary Splash DVD, Hanks recalled how the other cast members would drop French fries over the side of the tank to her as though she were a trained sea mammal, because she could not leave the water while her legs were "shrink-wrapped".


Produced on a $11 million budget,[1] Splash grossed $6.2 million in its opening weekend and finished its run with a gross of $69.8 million in the United States and Canada,[2] making it the tenth highest-grossing film of 1984.[12] The movie was also well received by critics and is considered to be one of the best films of 1984.[13][14][15][16] It earned a 91% "Fresh" rating from the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 43 reviews. The site's consensus states: "A perfectly light, warmly funny romantic comedy that's kept afloat by Ron Howard's unobtrusive direction and charming performances from Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah."[17] Metacritic gave the film a score of 71 based on 15 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[18] A negative review came from Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times who gave the movie 1.5 stars out of 4 and thought the film's biggest failing was casting then-unknown Hanks as the lead rather than the established comedy star John Candy: "They should have made Candy the lover, and Hanks the brother. Then we'd be on the side of this big lunk who suddenly has a mermaid drop into his life."[19]

Colin Greenland reviewed Splash for Imagine magazine, and stated that "Splash is an adult film that has the grace to treat fantasy with sensitivity and a sense of humour."[20]


Award Category Recipient Result
Academy Awards[21] Best Original Screenplay Bruce Jay Friedman, Lowell Ganz,
Brian Grazer and Babaloo Mandel
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated
National Society of Film Critics Best Screenplay Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel,
and Bruce Jay Friedman
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Young Artist Awards Best Family Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Film Nominated
Best Direction Ron Howard Nominated
Best Actress Daryl Hannah Won
Best Supporting Actor John Candy Nominated
Best Make-up Robert J. Schiffer Nominated

American Film Institute Lists

Soundtrack releases[edit]

A soundtrack album of Lee Holdridge's music for the film was released on both vinyl LP and cassette in the United Kingdom by Cherry Lane Records Ltd in 1984, with the music re-recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the composer. Both have been out of print for many years. The catalogue numbers for these releases were PIPLP 710 and ZCPIP 710 respectively. In 2000, the original music was released on a twenty-six track CD in the United States by Super Tracks Music Group. The back cover states that this product is "For Promotional Use Only" and that it has been "Manufactured for the composer...". Although this release is very hard to find brand new and may in fact be out of print, it is still obtainable from certain movie soundtrack specialist retailers and also occasionally used from certain online stores. This CD has every track that the LP and cassette have but has a considerably longer running length due to the twelve extra tracks. These extra tracks include more of the original music from the film, the theme song (by Lee Holdridge and Will Jennings) sung by Rita Coolidge and alternate versions of some of the tracks which appear on the LP and Cassette. The catalogue number for this release is LH CD – 02.

Cherry Lane album track listing[edit]

  1. "Love Came For Me (Love Theme)" (2:34)
  2. "Madison in Bloomingdale's" (1:37)
  3. "Mermaid On the Beach" (2:32)
  4. "Underwater" (2:20)
  5. "Reflection" (1:03)
  6. "Rainy Night" (2:40)
  7. "Face to Face" (1:25)
  8. "Escape and Chase" (2:54)
  9. "Madison and Allen" (3:04)
  10. "Moonlit Night" (2:56)
  11. "Daydream" (:55)
  12. "Raid On a Museum" (:50)
  13. "The Leap to Freedom" (3:35)
  14. "Return Home" (1:23)

Super Tracks album track listing[edit]

  1. "Main Title" (1:51)
  2. "First Meeting" (1:33)
  3. "The Boat/Mermaid On the Beach" (2:34)
  4. "Underwater – Version No. 1" (1:29)
  5. "Underwater – Version No. 2" (1:25)
  6. "Daydream" (:57)
  7. "Madison At Bloomingdale's" (1:09)
  8. "In the Bar" (2:12)
  9. "Late At Night" (2:35)
  10. "Watching TV" (1:24)
  11. "I Love You" (1:41)
  12. "Rainy Night" (2:38)
  13. "All Wet" (1:07)
  14. "Sneak Attack" (1:03)
  15. "Raid On a Museum" (:43)
  16. "Reunion" (1:21)
  17. "Escape and Chase" (2:55)
  18. "The Leap For Freedom" (2:20)
  19. "Return Home" (2:14)
  20. "Love Came For Me (Love Theme) – Rita Coolidge" (4:30)
  21. "End Title" (3:07)
  22. "Rainy Night – Version No. 2" (2:37)
  23. "Escape and Chase – Film Version" (2:54)
  24. "The Leap For Freedom – Film Version" (2:20)
  25. "Love Came For Me – Solo Sax Version" (2:36)
  26. "Love Came For Me – Solo Guitar Version" (3:48)


Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's book Freakonomics (2006) credits the film with popularizing the name "Madison" for girls, as does Steven Pinker's The Stuff of Thought (2007). In the film, Daryl Hannah's character takes her name from Madison Avenue (itself named after President James Madison) after walking past a road sign. Hanks' character comments that it is not a real name as, at the time, it was a rather unusual name for a woman. However, in the years since the film was released in theatres and re-released on VHS and then DVD, the name's popularity has skyrocketed.[25]

According to the Social Security Administration, the name "Madison" was the 216th most popular name in the United States for girls in 1990, the 29th most popular name for girls in 1995, and the 3rd most popular name for girls in 2000.[26] In 2005, the name finally cracked the top 50 most popular girls' names in the United Kingdom, and articles in British newspapers credit the film for the popularization. In a 2014 interview, Hannah commented on the irony of the name's popularity and subsequent acceptance as a standard first name given its origins as a joke based on Madison being primarily known as a street name at the time:

It's funny because no one understands the irony, because the whole point of me choosing that name was because it [was such a] silly name...Obviously everyone knew it as the name of the street. No one really saw it as a first name and that was a joke. And now, of course it's not funny at all. It's just like, 'Oh, what a beautiful name!'…It was funny at the time and now it's not even ironic.[25]


  • Splash, Too (directed by Greg Antonacci), was a television film released in 1988 (contradicting the first movie's finale revelation that if Allen goes to live in the sea, he can never return) starring Todd Waring as Allen Bauer, Amy Yasbeck as Madison, and Donovan Scott as Freddie Bauer. Only one member of the original cast, Dody Goodman, the Bauers' ditzy office assistant Mrs. Stimler, reprises her role.
  • A novelization of the film, written by Ian Marter (under the pen name Ian Don), was published by Target Books in the United Kingdom.


In 2016, producer Brian Grazer said he was working on a remake of Splash, although this version would be told from the point-of-view of the mermaid, which was more in line with the earlier drafts of the original film.[27] Jillian Bell and Channing Tatum were set to star with Bell as a female human and Tatum as a merman. Tatum was also set to produce the remake through his production company, Free Association, along with Reid Carolin and Peter Kieran, while Howard and Grazer will also produce from Imagine Entertainment with Anna Culp as the executive producer and Marja-Lewis Ryan writing.[28] As of January 2019, the project was still in development.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Loyn. (February 23, 1984). "Film Reviews: Splash". Daily Variety. p. 3.
  2. ^ a b "Splash (1984)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  3. ^ Splash at the American Film Institute Catalog
  4. ^ O'Reilly, Terry. "Small Move, Big Gain". Under the Influence. No. 4 February 2016. Canadian Broadcasting Organization. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  5. ^ "15 Surprising Facts About Splash". March 16, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Lost Roles of Chevy Chase". September 22, 2011.
  7. ^ "The Lost Comedy Roles of Tom Hanks". December 22, 2011.
  8. ^ Gray, Beverly (March 10, 2003). Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon...and Beyond. ISBN 9781418530747.
  9. ^ a b "P.J. Soles dishes on Bill Murray's late-night booty calls during the making of 'Stripes'".
  10. ^ Guttenberg, Steve (May 8, 2012). The Guttenberg Bible: A Memoir. ISBN 9781250011527.
  11. ^ Mayo, Michael (September 1984). "How to Make a Mermaid". Cinefantastique. 14 (#52): 92–99.
  12. ^ "1984 Domestic Grosses". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  13. ^ "The 10 Best Movies of 1984". Film.com. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  14. ^ "Was 1984 the Greatest Year in Movies Ever?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  15. ^ "Best Films of 1984". listal.com. Archived from the original on July 17, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  16. ^ "The Best Movies of 1984 by Rank". Films101.com. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  17. ^ "Splash Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  18. ^ "Splash Reviews". Metacritic.
  19. ^ "Splash movie review & film summary (1984) | Roger Ebert".
  20. ^ Greenland, Colin (August 1984). "Fantasy Media". Imagine (review). TSR Hobbies (UK), Ltd. (17): 47.
  21. ^ "Splash: Award Wins and Nominations". IMDb.com. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  22. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  23. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees
  24. ^ AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
  25. ^ a b "How a 'Splash' Joke Lead to the 'Madison' Baby Name Boom". Yahoo! Movies. March 7, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  26. ^ "Popular Baby Names". Social Security Administration. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  27. ^ "Add 1984's 'Splash' to the List of Upcoming Remakes". The Mary Sue. June 6, 2016. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  28. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 1, 2016). "'Splash' Remake Hooks Disney; Channing Tatum, Jillian Bell Star; Grazer & Howard, Free Association Producing". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  29. ^ Jude Dry (January 28, 2019). "'Splash' Remake With Channing Tatum Is Happening Soon, Says Jillian Bell". IndieWire. Retrieved April 7, 2020. With Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment behind the reboot, there’s no question whether the movie can get funded, but rather if Howard and Grazer decide to go ahead with it. Though unclear, the fact that Bell said it is being written currently suggests some back and forth between producers and writer Maria Lewis-Ryan (“6 Balloons”), a fairly untested newcomer.

External links[edit]