Kevin Costner’s WATERWORLD Is Underappreciated And It Needs A Reappraisal

Waterworld is often seen as one of Hollywood’s legendary bombs (even though it actually made money). The Kevin Reynolds directed release had a production budget of $175 million and took another $50 million to market. It grossed over $264 million globally, making $88 million at the US box office. It was the 10th highest grossing film of 1995 in the US and the 9th highest grossing global title of the year. It also went on to make a killing on home video and other ancillaries.

The 1995 film was the third collaboration between Reynolds and Kevin Costner following Fandango and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (they  would go on to make Hatfields & McCoys in 2012. 

Waterworld was mauled by the entertainment press because of its budget – even though Universal Pictures knew how much it was going to cost – but they didn’t want to be the first studio to green-light a film with a budget north of $100 million. 

It’s the film that truly threw action films into the mega-budget realm. Plagued by delays, accidents and sinking sets the budget of the film spiralled out of control and although it was supposed to cost “only” $100 million, it eventually cost $175 million. What gets lost in all this talk about the film’s budget, is that we often overlook how good it is.  A Mad Max-style action-adventure set in a post apocalyptic earth after the polar icecaps have melted, the film is made in the vein of old Hollywood pirate films. It’s thrilling, exciting and rather fun. Waterworld needs a full reappraisal. 

In 2019 Arrow Films released a stunning blu-ray release of Waterworld which features three different cuts of the film, along with a whole batch of exciting extras. If you like the movie, it’s an essential purchase.