ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

Waterworld is remembered many different ways by many different people. To fans of watery apocalypses, Waterworld is one of the most ambitious movies of the 1990s. To others, it was a terrible flop which could have ended the career of Kevin Costner. To those who actually worked on the film, it was a living hell.

Regardless of your opinion of the film, on the 28th July it will be celebrating its 20th anniversary. So, with this mind, let's take a look at 20 Waterworld facts you might not have known.

1. Waterworld Was the Most Expensive Movie Ever

Until the release of Titanic two years later, Waterworld was at the time the most expensive movie ever made. In comparison to modern movies, its $175 million budget seems rather modest, but when adjusted for inflation it was the equivalent of $274 million.

2. Kevin Costner Put His Money into the Project

Costner was very personally involved with Waterworld, contributing $22 million of his own money to the budget.

3. Joss Whedon Was Involved in the Script

The Avengers director was flown out to the set in Hawaii to do last minute rewrites of the script. He later described the experience as "seven weeks of hell."

4. Kevin Costner Was Left to Finish the Project Himself

Remember when I said Costner was intimately connected to the film? Well, he was also required to take over directorial duties and finish the film once the original director, Kevin Reynolds, walked off the set. The two former friends apparently continually squabbled, with Reynolds being quoted as saying, "Kevin should only star in movies he directs. That way he can work with his favorite actor and favorite director."

5. Ironically, Costner Almost Walked If Reynolds Wasn't Given the Job

Before Reynolds was signed on to the job (and subsequently walked), Costner told Universal he would quit the project if his friend Kevin Reynolds wasn't hired as the director.

6. The Waterworld Set Emptied Hawaii of Steel

The huge floating Waterworld sets used up all the available steel in the Hawaiian Islands. More had to eventually be imported from California.

7. Unfortunately, the Set Had No Toilets

All of this steel created a 1,000 ton set, but no toilets. Considering there were no facilities on the set, or in any of the 30 boats used by the cast and crew, filming was constantly interrupted when dozens of cast and crew needed to constantly be ferried to a barge with portable toilets.

8. Lots of Other People Were Involved in the Script

It wasn't just Whedon who did script rewrites. Waterworld had 36 different drafts from six different writers.

9. Costner Wasn't Very Popular with the Crew

Costner stayed in a $4,500 a night oceanfront villa, complete with butler, chef and private swimming pool. Meanwhile, the crew stayed in uninsulated condominiums which were subject to 50 degree temperature swings. This led to a lot of on-set hostility and low morale.

10. Although He Did Work Quite Hard

Costner was on set for 157 days, and he consistently worked 6 days a week.

11. Samuel L. Jackson Almost Had a Role

Jackson was originally considered for the role of Deacon, however he turned it down to appear in Die Hard: With a Vengeance. This was probably a good career move in hindsight.

12. Waterworld Was Inspired by Mad Max

Many of the costumes and vehicle designs were inspired by Mad Max. As can be seen in the video below:

13. Two Stars Almost Drowned on Their First Day

Jeanne Tripplehorn and Tina Majorino both nearly drowned on their first day of filming. The trimaran they were riding on sank, dragging them behind it.

14. The Wind Caused Major Issues

Apparently, the studio did not conduct much research into the weather patterns off the Hawaiian coast. If they did, they would have found out the Kona Coast often has winds in excess of 45 mph. These strong winds often blew the set out of position, while the whole production had to be shut down three times due to hurricane warnings.

15. Robert Zemerkis Could Have Directed

If it wasn't for Costner's above mentioned support for Reynolds, the studio would have liked Back To The Future's Robert Zemerkis to direct.

16. Waterworld Was Considered One of the Worst Flops at the Time

Although Waterworld made $255 million on a budget of $175 million, it still was a fairly major flop when you consider the vast amount of money used to market and distribute the film. Because of this, the film was nicknamed "Kevin's Gate" and "Fishtar," after other mega-flops Heaven's Gate and Ishtar.

17. Denver Makes a Cameo as the Sunken City

When The Mariner (Costner) visits the sunken city, we in fact see a digitally edited Denver, Colorado. For example, the Norwest Building can be seen in one shot.

18. Waterworld Is Set Far in the Future

Although the exact year is never specified, production designer Dennis Gassner suggested the movie was at least set in 2500.

19. Waterworld Was Originally a Kids Film

The original script by Peter Rader was pitched to studios as a kids film. It featured the same characters but they were often much sillier in nature. The Mariner was the protector of the atoll, but he harbored a dark secret: he liked to paint pictures of seahorses. Meanwhile, the villainous Deacon was a silly badgbuy who dressed up as King Trident and would punish his underlings by slapping them with a fish.

20. Don't Be Too Afraid of Waterworld Happening

Although global warming is something you should be concerned about, a Waterworld scenario is not likely. If all the icecaps melted sea levels would rise a few hundred feet, not enough to flood the entire world.


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