The Flintstones (film)

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The Flintstones
Flintstones ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
Directed byBrian Levant
Produced byBruce Cohen
Written by
Based onThe Flintstones
by William Hanna and
Joseph Barbera
Starring
Music byDavid Newman
CinematographyDean Cundey
Edited byKent Beyda
Production
companies
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • May 27, 1994 (1994-05-27)
Running time
91 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$46 million[2]
Box office$341.6 million[2]

The Flintstones (also known as The Flintstones Movie or The Flintstones: The Live-Action Movie in the working title) is a 1994 American family comedy film directed by Brian Levant and written by Tom S. Parker, Jim Jennewein, and Steven E. de Souza based on the 1960–1966 animated television series of the same name. The film stars John Goodman as Fred Flintstone, Rick Moranis as Barney Rubble, Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma Flintstone and Rosie O'Donnell as Betty Rubble, along with Kyle MacLachlan as a villainous executive-vice president of Fred's company, Halle Berry as his seductive secretary, and Elizabeth Taylor (in her final theatrical film appearance), as Pearl Slaghoople, Wilma's mother. The B-52's (as The BC-52's in the film) performed their version of the cartoon's theme song.

The film, shot in California, was theatrically released on May 27, 1994, and earned almost $342 million worldwide against a $46 million budget, making it a huge box office success, despite earning negative reviews from critics. Observers criticized the storyline and tone, which they deemed too mature for family audiences, but praised its faithfulness to its source material, visual effects, costume design, art direction, and performances (particularly Goodman's as Fred). A tie-in promotion with McDonald's was made to promote the film. The movie was originally acquired by New Line Cinema, but then sold to Universal Pictures.

A prequel titled The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas was released in 2000.

Plot[edit]

In prehistoric suburban Bedrock, Slate & Co.'s new vice-president Cliff Vandercave and secretary Sharon Stone discuss their plan to swindle the company of its vast fortune, pin the theft on an employee, and flee. Fred Flintstone loans his best friend and neighbor Barney Rubble money so that he and his wife Betty can adopt a little boy named Bamm-Bamm, who can only pronounce his own name. Although Bamm-Bamm is initially difficult to control, because of his super strength, he eventually warms up to his new family and befriends Fred’s daughter Pebbles. Despite his mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople's objections, Fred's wife Wilma remains supportive of his decision to loan the Rubbles money.

Cliff holds an aptitude test with the worker with the highest mark becoming the company's new vice president. Barney gets the highest score but switches his paper with Fred, whom he knows will fail. Fred receives the promotion, complete with executive perks such as a luxurious office and the beautiful Miss Stone appointed as his secretary. In order to test Fred’s willingness to do whatever he says, his first order is to dismiss Barney who, with Fred's test paper, has the lowest score in the company. Fred is unwilling to fire him, but Cliff tells him that if he doesn't fire Barney, Cliff will fire both of them. Fred reluctantly accepts, but does his best to help Barney support his family, even inviting the Rubbles to live with them so that they can rent out their house. However, Fred's job and newfound wealth put a strain on his relationships with Wilma and the Rubbles. Cliff eventually tricks Fred into signing forms implicating him in the company’s embezzlement, with the help of Miss Stone aggressively seducing him once he questions the forms’ legitimacy. Later, Barney confronts Fred after seeing worker riots on the news and Barney reveals that he switched tests with Fred. The Rubbles then move out, despite having nowhere to live. Wilma and Pebbles also leave for Pearl's house, leaving Fred behind.

Fred goes to the quarry, discovers Cliff's plan, and tries to get Mr. Slate to fire Cliff. However, having manipulated the events to make it look as if Fred stole the money, Cliff has reported the theft to the police. Fred escapes, but a manhunt ensues by both the police and the fired quarry workers. Wilma and Betty see this on the news and break into Slate & Co. to get the Dictabird, the only witness who can clear Fred's name, unaware that Cliff saw them from his office window. As a disguised Fred enters the fired workers cave, he is discovered and the mob attempts to hang both he and Barney. When Wilma and Betty arrive with the Dictabird, Wilma tells the workers that Fred was framed, and the Dictabird tells them that Cliff was the one who fired them. Fred and Barney are then released.

When the Flintstones and Rubbles return home, they find it burglarized with Dino and Pearl tied up and Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm gone. The group finds a note from Cliff saying that he will trade the children for the Dictabird. Fred and Barney confront Cliff at the quarry, where Cliff has tied Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm to a huge machine. Though they hand him the Dictabird, Cliff activates the machine to stall them. Barney rescues the children from Cliff while Fred destroys the machine. The Dictabird escapes from Cliff and lures him back to the quarry, where Miss Stone knocks him out, having had a change of heart after learning that Cliff was planning to betray her. The police, Wilma, Betty, and Mr. Slate arrive and Cliff attempts to flee, but he is petrified by a substance falling from the machine.

Fred and the Dictabird tell the police what Cliff has done and all charges against Fred are dropped. Impressed with the substance that Fred inadvertently created by destroying the machine, Mr. Slate dubs the substance "concrete" in honour of his daughter Concretia and declares the stone age over. Mr. Slate asks for the workers be rehired and makes plans to produce the concrete with Fred as the president of its division. Having experienced the negatives of wealth and status, Fred declines the offer and asks that the workers be given two weeks paid leave as part of their salary.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development and writing[edit]

In 1985, producers Keith Barish and Joel Silver bought the rights for a live-action feature film version of The Flintstones and commissioned Steven E. de Souza to write a script with Richard Donner hired to direct. De Souza's script submitted in September 1987 was eventually rejected and in October 1989 a new script by Daniel and Joshua Goldin was submitted.[3] Peter Martin Wortmann and Robert Conte submitted another draft in March 1990 before Mitch Markowitz was hired to write a script.[3] Said to be a cross of The Grapes of Wrath, Markowitz commented that "I don't even remember it that well, but Fred and Barney leave their town during a terrible depression and go across the country, or whatever that damn prehistoric thing is, looking for jobs. They wind up in trailer parks trying to keep their families together. They exhibit moments of heroism and poignancy". Markowitz's version was apparently too sentimental for director Donner, who disliked it.[4] A further draft was then submitted and revised by Jeffrey Reno and Ron Osbourne in 1991 and 1992. Eventually, the rights were bought by Amblin Entertainment and Steven Spielberg who, after working with Goodman on Always, was determined to cast him in the lead as Fred. Brian Levant was hired as director, knowing he was the right person because of his love for the original series. They knew he was an avid fan of the series because of his Flintstones items collection and the knowledge he had from the series.

When Levant was hired, all previous scripts were thrown out. In May 1992, Michael J. Wilson submitted a 4-page story that became the basis for the film. This was turned into a script by Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker. A meeting of Levant, Bruce Cohen, Jason Hoffs and Kate Barker gave notes to Gary Ross, who produced another draft.[3] Levant then recruited what he called an "all-star writing team" which consisted of his writer friends from television shows such as Family Ties, Night Court, and Happy Days. "This is a sitcom on steroids", said Levant. "We were just trying to improve it." The writers, dubbed the Flintstone Eight, were Al Aidekman, Cindy Begel, Lloyd Garver, David Silverman, Stephen Sustarsic, Nancy Steen, Neil Thompson plus Levant. The group wrote a new draft but four more round table sessions ensued, each of which was attended by new talent, including Rob Dames, Lenny Ripps, Fred Fox Jr., Dava Savel, Lon Diamond, David Richardson, Roy Teicher, Richard Gurman, Michael J. Digaetano and Ruth Bennett.[3] Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel worked on it next with Levant, taking home a reported $100,000 for just two days work.[5] Rick Moranis was also present at Levant's roundtables, and later described the film as "one of those scripts that had about 18 writers".[6] Levant made eight more revisions before finally registering a shooting script on August 7, 1993. Of the 35 writers, the Flintstone Eight were submitted for arbitration by the Writers Guild of America plus Wilson for story credit,[3] however, credit was given to the first script by De Souza and to Jennewein and Parker for their drafts.

The effects for Dino, the Dictabird and other prehistoric creatures were provided by Jim Henson's Creature Shop while most of the film's CGI effects were provided by Industrial Light & Magic after Levant was impressed by their work on the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (another Universal/Amblin production released the previous year).

Casting[edit]

John Candy, Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase were all considered for the role of Fred Flintstone.[7][8] the last four actors were all deemed too skinny and a fat suit was deemed too inappropriate to be used. Goodman felt he was "sandbagged" into the role of Flintstone years earlier at the table read for the film Always, when Steven Spielberg announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to say something before we start: I've found my Fred Flintstone." Goodman said it was "not a role I was looking forward to doing" but said the experience was "fun."[9] If Goodman had turned the role down, the film would not have been made.[7] Geena Davis, Faith Ford, and Catherine O'Hara were all considered for the role of Wilma. Elizabeth Perkins won the role.[10] Danny DeVito was the original first choice for Barney, but he turned down the role as he felt he was too gruff to do the character properly and reportedly suggested Rick Moranis for the role.[7] DeVito was also considered for Fred Flintstone.[11] Although Janine Turner was considered, Rosie O'Donnell won the role of Betty Rubble with her impersonation of the cartoon character's signature giggle.[7] Both Tracey Ullman and Daphne Zuniga were also considered for the role.[10] Sharon Stone was to play Miss Stone, but turned it down because of scheduling conflicts.[7][12] The role was also offered to Nicole Kidman.[7] Anna Nicole Smith was also considered.[7] Both Audrey Meadows and Elizabeth Montgomery were considered for the role of Pearl Slaghoople.[10]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on May 17, 1993, and wrapped on August 20, 1993.[13][14][15] Parts of the film were shot at Glen Canyon in Utah as well as Los Angeles County, California.[16] Sets that resembled a complete street from Bedrock were constructed adjacent to Vasquez Rocks in California. Before being totally demolished, visitors could tour the location.[17]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Despite the negative reviews, The Flintstones was a box office success, grossing $130,531,208 domestically, including the $37,182,745 it made during its 4-day Memorial Day opening weekend in 1994. It performed even better internationally, making another $211,100,000 internationally, for a total of $341,631,208 worldwide, more than seven times its $46 million budget.[2] In Australia, it grossed $2 million in its opening weekend, the second highest at the time behind Jurassic Park.[18] In Italy, it grossed $4.8 million in its first six days, also the second biggest opener in Italy at the time behind Jurassic Park.[19] It set opening records in Hungary and Poland.[18] It went on to gross over $15 million in Italy, $35 million in Germany and $31 million in the United Kingdom.[20]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 22% based on 46 reviews, with an average rating of 4.03/10. The site's consensus states, "The Flintstones wastes beloved source material and imaginative production design on a tepid script that plunks Bedrock's favorite family into a cynical story awash with lame puns."[21] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 38 out of 100, which indicates "generally unfavorable reviews", based on 15 reviews.[22] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A+ to F.[23]

On Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times and his colleague Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two thumbs down, with Ebert giving it 2.5 stars out of 4 in his newspaper review, and Siskel giving it 1.5 stars out of 4 in his newspaper review. They both mentioned that its main storylines (embezzlement, mother-in-law problems, office politics and extra-marital affairs) were storylines for adult films, and ones that children would not be able to understand. However, many critics praised the film's look, faithfulness to the cartoon, Rosanna Norton's costume designs and Goodman's performance.[24][25][26][27] A few reviews were positive, including Time magazine which said "The Flintstones is fun", and Joel Siegel from ABC's Good Morning America and WABC-TV who called the film "pre-historical, hysterical... great fun". In a 1997 interview, Joseph Barbera, co-founder of Hanna-Barbera Productions and co-creator of The Flintstones, stated that, although he was impressed by the film's visuals, he felt the story "wasn't as good as I could have made it."[28]

Year-end lists[edit]

Accolades[edit]

O'Donnell won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress for her performance in this film. The film also won Worst Screenplay and was nominated for two others: Taylor as Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress (the second performance in the film nominated for this award) and for the film as Worst Remake or Sequel. At the 1994 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, the film was nominated for Worst Resurrection of a TV Show and Worst Actress for O'Donnell. The film also received four Saturn Award nominations, including Best Fantasy Film, Best Costume Design and Best Supporting Actress for O'Donnell's and Berry's performances.

Marketing[edit]

McDonald's marketed a number of Flintstones promotions for the film, including the return of the McRib sandwich and the "Grand Poobah Meal" combo with it, a line of premium glass mugs, and toys based on characters and locations from the film. In the commercials and released items for the Flintstones promotion, McDonald's was renamed "RocDonald's" with stone age imagery, similarly to other businesses and proper names in the Flintstones franchise. The week the film was released, MTV aired a block of The Grind with Eric Nies at the film's Bedrock set with dancers in cave outfits performing to hit music at the time from Ace of Base, Was (Not Was), Warren G and Nate Dogg while Eric asked the dancers themed trivia questions from the show and encouraged the viewers to purchase the film's soundtrack.[35] The Flintstones: The Movie, a video game based on the film, was developed by Ocean software and released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy and Mega Drive/Genesis (Sega Channel exclusive) in 1995. In the United Kingdom, Tetley promoted adverts with audio from the film, including mugs starring characters from the film. Jurassic Park, the name of another movie, was also seen briefly as a park in the film.

Home media release[edit]

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released the film on VHS and LaserDisc on November 8, 1994, later on DVD on March 16, 1999 and to Blu-ray on August 19, 2014.[36]

Video game[edit]

A video game based on the film was released for the Game Boy, Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Channel in both 1994 and 1995 respectively, developed by Ocean Software (SNES), Twilight (GB), Hi-Tech (SC) and published by Ocean Software. In the game, the player takes control of Fred Flintstone and has to rescue Wilma, Barney, Pebbles and Bam-Bam from Cliff Vandercave.[37][38]

A Sega Genesis version developed by Foley Hi-Tech and published by Ocean Software was also planned, but was later canceled and was released on the Sega Channel instead.[39]

Prequel[edit]

A prequel, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, was released in 2000. The original main cast did not reprise their roles of the characters, though O'Donnell provided the voice of an octopus who gave massages to younger versions of Wilma and Betty. Irwin Keyes returned as Joe Rockhead, the only cast member to reprise his role from the first film. Like the first film, it received negative reviews, but unlike the original film, it was not a box office success.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE FLINTSTONES (U)". British Board of Film Classification. May 31, 1994. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "The Flintstones (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Fleming, Michael (January 4, 1994). "Scribes thrive on 'F'Stones'". Daily Variety. p. 1.
  4. ^ Murphy, Ryan (January 17, 1993). "A look inside Hollywood and the movies : 'YABBA DABBA WHO?' : Hey! Raquel Welch Was Good in 'One Million Years B.C.'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
  5. ^ Gordinier, Jeff; Ascher-Walsh, Rebecca (June 3, 1994). "Bringing "The Flintstones" to the Big Screen". Entertainment Weekly.
  6. ^ Chris Hardwick (June 12, 2013). "Nerdist Podcast: Rick Moranis". Nerdist Podcast (Podcast). Nerdist Industries. Event occurs at 1:13:36. Archived from the original on January 2, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Hayes, Britt (November 16, 2013). "See the Cast of 'The Flintstones' Then and Now". Screen Crush. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
  8. ^ Evans, Bradford (June 2, 2011). "The Lost Roles of John Candy". Splitsider. Archived from the original on May 20, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  9. ^ "John Goodman Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters". GQ. August 15, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Mell, Eila (2005). Casting Might-Have-Beens: A Film by Film Directory of Actors Considered for Roles Given to Others. McFarland. ISBN 9780786420179.
  11. ^ Evans, Bradford (September 15, 2011). "The Lost Roles of Danny DeVito". Splitsider. Archived from the original on March 25, 2018. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  12. ^ Klossner, Michael (2006). Prehistoric Humans in Film and Television: 581 Dramas, Comedies and Documentaries, 1905-2004. McFarland. ISBN 9781476609140.
  13. ^ https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1993-05-10-me-33682-story,amp.html
  14. ^ https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1993-05-30-me-41899-story,amp.html
  15. ^ https://www.variety.com/1993/voices/columns/taylor-polishes-cameo-in-bedrock-1117862222/amp/
  16. ^ D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: a history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
  17. ^ https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3uw58w
  18. ^ a b Groves, Don (September 20, 1994). "'Clear' sailing in U.K.; 'Flintstones' wows Oz". Daily Variety. p. 4.
  19. ^ Groves, Don (October 17, 1994). "'Forrest' growing at o'seas B.O.". Variety. p. 28.
  20. ^ Klady, Leonard (November 14, 1994). "Exceptions are the rule in foreign B.O.". Variety. p. 7.
  21. ^ "The Flintstones (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  22. ^ "The Flintstones reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  23. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  24. ^ Turan, Kenneth (May 27, 1994). "Movie review: 'The Flintstones' succeeds at being cartoonish. But do three dozen writers make for a good script? Don't take it for granite". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  25. ^ James, Caryn (May 27, 1994). "Review/Film: The Flintstones; Lovable And Loud, With Wits Of Stone". The New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  26. ^ McCarthy, Todd (May 17, 1994). "The Flintstones". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  27. ^ Wilmington, Michael (May 27, 1994). "Yabba-dabba Dud". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on March 9, 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2010.
  28. ^ Maltin, Leonard (February 26, 1997). "Joseph Barbera Interview". Archive of American Television. Archived from the original on April 4, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  29. ^ Howe, Desson (December 30, 1994), "The Envelope Please: Reel Winners and Losers of 1994", The Washington Post, retrieved July 19, 2020
  30. ^ Anthony, Todd (January 5, 1995). "Hits & Disses". Miami New Times.
  31. ^ Maslin, Janet (December 27, 1994). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; The Good, Bad and In-Between In a Year of Surprises on Film". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  32. ^ Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph. p. B1.
  33. ^ Travers, Peter (December 29, 1994). "The Best and Worst Movies of 1994". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  34. ^ Simon, Jeff (January 1, 1995). "Movies: Once More, with Feeling". The Buffalo News. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  35. ^ >
  36. ^ Levant, Brian (August 19, 2014). "The Flintstones". Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
  37. ^ https://total.bee-ware.ch/tests/snes/snes_Flinstones.jpg
  38. ^ http://download.abandonware.org/magazines/Consoles%20Plus/consoleplus_numero042/Consoles%20+%20042%20-%20Page%20156%20(1995-04).jpg
  39. ^ "The Flintstones (Ocean)". Retrieved May 29, 2018.[unreliable source?]

External links[edit]