How Bad Was "Waterworld"?

I often hear jokes about this Kevin Costner film and have never seen it.

I know it went way over budget to the tune of some 75 million dollars but I wonder if anyone has seen it was it really a bad movie? Or did it just get bad press because it went over budget

How did it compare to other Kostner movies?

Not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It had bad press from the getgo and got the reputation as being a cursed shoot. It was a standard over-the-top action movie with unrealistic set pieces and a ludicrous premise.

Maybe we’ve gotten a bit immune to it what with Armageddon, 2012, Deep Impact and such that it seems more normal now than it did then.

I like the film in fact I have the DVD. I know the science is outrageous but I am a sucker for nautical themed movies. I prefer the longer uncut TV version of the film and I can’t seem to find the extended cut on DVD. One of the reasons people seem to be put off is the “hero” of the story is not a very likeable character.

I think the difference between Waterworld and those movies is that Costner sort of carried Waterworld on his shoulders, so what was just a bad movie became a monumentally bad, ridiculously expensive pet project from an actor trying to be an auteur. Also, if it had come out of the gate as an over-the-top action movie, it would have fared better; rather, it seemed at times to be more of a drama that wanted to be taken seriously. The “action movie” moments didn’t fit with the tone of the rest of the film.

It’s certainly nowhere nearly as bad as The Postman :smiley:

The film was known as “Kevin’s Gate” for a while (but so was Dances with Wolves before it came out), and while it gets a bad rep because of the logistical nightmare the shoot was and the cost overruns that were always making the press, it’s still not good. A few fun moments, but depressing to see Dennis Hopper (and so much $) wasted.

The “Waterworld” stunt show at Universal Studios, though, was pretty awesome (back in the day; don’t even know if they do it anymore).

I thought it was pretty bad-none of it made much sense. for instance: where did they get the tobacco that they were smoking? Ditto for the gasoline. Plus, Costner drinks distilled pee-was that how they got their water?

Well the gas came from the supply in the tanker and there was talk about how they are running out.

Well the atols probally collected rainwater and had distillation facilities to turn seawater into fresh water. Of course urine has a much highter salt content than seawater so it makes absolutly no sense to try to turn it into drinkable water when one’s surrounded by ocean. :smack:

About the $ situation…

I heard Costner (on NPR’s “Fresh Air”, I believe) claim that the movie, in the long term, was extremely profitable. Is that true?


Estimated budget: $175M

Total U.S. Gross: $88M, a quarter of which was earned on opening weekend.

Worldwide Gross: $264M

I guess it depends on whether you need to earn your investment back as fast as possible or not.

I think it was really bad, but not because it didn’t make sense. It didn’t, but plenty of enjoyable movies don’t make any sense. I think it was doomed because of the combination of not making any sense and taking itself seriously at the same time. 2012 was enjoyable despite being probably the most ridiculous movie I’ve ever seen. It was so over the top ridiculous and never took itself too seriously, making it easy to sit back and enjoy the ride. Waterworld, not so much.

Waterworld along with The Postman means that I now associate Kevin Costner with awfulness. The badness of The Postman is especially grating since it was based on such a wonderful book. I tend not to mind if adaptations are not faithful to the original if the movie guys have an interesting but different vision, but imagining someone reading that book and only taking away the dreck that was that movie is just aggravating.

Yes, but the theaters keeps roughly half of the gross receipts. So you can figure the film returned around $132M to the studio for a loss of about $43M

I also don’t know about the rentals total:

How much does the rental company keep, and how much goes back to the studio (and investors)?

Is the total on the IMDB page included in the Worldwide Gross total, or is the WWGT just box office income?

The $88m seems to be just the take at the actual theaters in the US

So we can assume the Worldwide gross is also just theaters.

With video and DVD and TV it almost cetainly made some money back.

The problem with Waterworld was Costner. He wasn’t liked by the industry back then and a lot of people were looking for him to fail. When the movie got into financial trouble because of costs from storms and the general nightmare of making a movie on water the industry press came down hard on him and it was being touted as a HUGE failure before it was even finished. This bad publicity hurt in big time in the mind of the public.

When the movie came out it turned out to be just a sub-par Mad Max clone on water. No terrible but no very good either. If it hadn’t have been a Costner vehicle it would have just gone down in history as another silly action movie.

Films don’t make money on box office, they make it from subsidiary rights: pay per view, network showings, cable and satellite showings, VHS, DVD, soundtracks, and all the other bits and pieces that go on forever. Waterworld pays something back every single year. (When you try to calculate it, don’t forget that worldwide marketing costs for a movie can run $50-100 million.)

Waterworld was bad because it was ridiculous at every single moment. Nothing made sense, the characters were silly, and the Mad Max-like future world seemed like a ripoff of all the other futures where nobody wanted to imagine anything new. It probably wasn’t worse than any of a dozen other idiot blockbuster movies, but there’s nothing else to directly compare it to so it stands out as a failure all lonely in a spotlight of its own.

I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed The Postman. I guess I just like Kevin Costner. He is a pretty wooden actor.

I’m not sure I understand the criticism that it didn’t make sense. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I don’t remember anything not making sense.

I didn’t like it either. The (silly) premise seemed like a fun movie device. Of course mr. moody brought the whole thing down.

Also like his way too serious Wyatt. And don’t get me started on his not-so-merry Robin Hood. Hey, Kevin - not every character has to be brooding.

Sorry, but I remember seeing it in the theater, and I think it’s worse than most people remember.

The bad guys are zooming around on jet-skis. I mean…cmon.

The above mentioned urine-drinking.

I think the point of the movie where I finally couldn’t take any more was, towards the end after they’ve been drifting at sea for months and are dying, the female character still has perfect skin and makeup - no pretense of realism at all.

Add in Kostner’s overall horrible acting, and it goes down as one of the worst movies I’ve seen. I put it in the ranks of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and GI Joe.

Seconded. Plus, Jeanne Tripplehorn was smokin’. Hmmm. According to Wiki, Jack Black is in it; I don’t remember him. As to its profitability:

With a budget of $175 million, the film grossed a mere $88 million at the U.S. box office, which seemed to make it the all time box office bomb. Adjusted for inflation and expressed in 2006 dollars (USD), the budget for the movie was $231.6 million, and grossed $116.8 million at the U.S. box office. The film, however, did much better overseas, with $176 million at the foreign box office (for a total of $264 million), and good VHS and later DVD sales.

I will say that I think the best part of the movie is the first minute or so, when the Universal logo fades away and the camera zooms in over the Earth, and you gradually see all of the landmasses disappear as the oceans rise. That was a cool effect.

Add in profits from the various international home video releases, TV/cable/PPV rights, product licensing (Ocean and Kenner, et al., took a loss on their Waterworld products, but I’m sure they paid for the rights), soundtrack sales and licensing, publishing rights, etc. The licensed theme shows are still running at Universal Studios in the US and Japan, and the parks are still selling licensed material in support of them. (Wikipedia even says that a third ride will be opening in Singapore!)

Overall, I’d imagine the film came close to a break-even point in its initial release, and the TV/home video profits, park shows, and show souvenir sales have had 16 years to cover any shortfall and provide a bit of profit.