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It is rumored that director Kevin Reynolds and Kevin Costner had a huge squabble over the film, resulting in Reynolds walking off the project and left Costner to finish it. Reynolds was quoted as saying that "Kevin Costner should only star in movies he directs. That way, he can work with his favorite actor and favorite director".
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For the Japanese premiere, Kevin Costner had his private plane flown to Tokyo. He failed to get permission to store his plane at the airport for the duration of his trip. He asked the Navy if he could use their airport at Atsugi. They agreed, but only if Costner showed the movie there, and made a personal appearance.
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Kevin Costner personally invested $22 million of his own money into the film.
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Joss Whedon flew out to the set to do last minute rewrites on the script. He later described it as "seven weeks of hell".
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Kevin Costner stayed in an oceanfront villa with a butler, chef, and private swimming pool, for $4,500 per night. Crew members were forced to live in uninsulated condominiums that were subject to temperature swings of up to 50 degrees. This inequity of accommodations contributed to on-set hostility and low morale.
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The preferred 3-hour cut of director Kevin Reynolds was drastically edited back to a 135-minute theatrical version by Kevin Costner and the studio, probably in an effort to recoup the film's inflated $175 million dollar budget (since Costner's previous 3-hour movie Wyatt Earp (1994) had been a box office bomb). ABC later broadcast an extended TV version that restored almost 40 minutes of deleted scenes, which explain more about the world, the people who live there, the Smokers' religious beliefs and their ability to refine crude oil. The additional scenes also tie up several loose ends in the theatrical release. Being a TV special, this version was also censored for violence and language. A fan-edit of the film, called 'Waterworld: The Ulysses Cut' (named after a restored scene at the end), was later made in an attempt to create the most complete version of the movie. It was compiled from several broadcast versions, containing all of the additional footage from the TV version while restoring the previously censored parts. In an unexpected turn, the original distributor officially sanctioned this fan-edit by releasing it in a box-set with the other two versions. This Ulysses Cut was remastered in high-definition though, created with original footage rather than lower-quality broadcast material.
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The 1,000 tonne floating set used up all the available steel in the Hawaiian Islands. When more was required, it had to be flown in from California.
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Prior to Titanic (1997), this was the most expensive movie ever produced.
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After Kevin Costner showed interest in the film, he insisted that his friend Kevin Reynolds be given the director's position, and Charles Gordon be the producer. Reynolds initially refused because of major disagreements between him and Costner on the set of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). Gordon had to bring Reynolds and Costner together and act as an intermediate before the two made amends. Later, Costner had another falling out with Reynolds over the film's direction.
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Kevin Costner demanded the VFX crew hide his receding hairline digitally, which was not a cheap feat in 1995.
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The map tattoo on Enola's back is in Chinese traditional characters (or Japanese Kanji). The characters in the middle surrounding the arrow are actual coordinates for longitude and latitude. While one number is not quite readable, the others give almost exact coordinates for Mount Everest, which is Latitude 27° 59' N Longitude 86° 56' E. The movie coordinates give: Latitude 27 or 28° 58' N Longitude 86° 56' E.
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Neither the 1,000 metric ton floating set nor any of the 30 boats used by the cast and crew had bathrooms. Filming had to stop so people could be ferried to portable toilets on a barge anchored near the shore.
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Two locations were considered to accommodate construction and filming of the enormous sets: the southern coast of Australia, and Hawaii's Kona coast. The choice fell on Hawaii, since production was scheduled for a summer, when it is actually winter in Australia. The studio didn't spend any money researching weather patterns off Kona coast. If they had, they would have learned that the area was subject to 45 mph winds, which constantly blew the set out of position and ruined shots.
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The sunken city visited by the Mariner and guest is actually a digitally edited Denver, Colorado. The "Norwest Building" (roughly shaped like a cash register) can be seen in one shot.
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Ginger Peterson, a Hawaii resident and the film's location manager, said local contractors, from catering to construction, demanded very high fees because they knew they were the only available option. Peterson moved out of Hawaii after filming wrapped.
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Jeanne Tripplehorn refused to strip for this film, even though she had done nude scenes before (and would do them after this film). She insisted on choosing her body double, as she wanted the naked backside shown to resemble her own. She had the three finalists come into her trailer and drop their robes. She described it as such an odd experience that none of them could stop laughing. In between takes of the nude scene, Tripplehorn remained off-camera to offer a robe or towel to the double.
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The production added more than $35 million to the Hawaiian economy.
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Though widely called a box office bomb upon its release, even nicknamed "Kevin's Gate" (after Heaven's Gate (1980)) and "Fishtar" (after Ishtar (1987)) the film eventually turned a profit. The film cost $235 million to produce and market, and grossed $264 million worldwide in 1995, of which approximately 55% ($145 million) went to the studio and the remainder to theaters. As of 2013 the film had actually earned a profit of $8 million from video sales and television licensing.
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Jeanne Tripplehorn and Tina Majorino nearly drowned on their first day of filming when the trimaran they were on sank, dragging them behind it.
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Samuel L. Jackson turned down the role of Deacon in order to be in Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995).
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The language Kevin Costner speaks to the lime stealing drifter early in the movie is Hindi.
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The 112-foot model of the Exxon Valdez sat abandoned at the Mojave Airport airplane scrapyard until August 2015, when it was partially stripped to be repurposed as set decoration for Wasteland Weekend.
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Largely due to the input of several big parties (including production company Largo Entertainment, Universal Studios, and star Kevin Costner), the script underwent 36 different drafts, involving six different writers. Original writer Peter Rader had already written seven drafts before he was replaced, and the script was constantly being rewritten during filming.
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If the icecaps melted, the oceans would only rise a few hundred feet; not enough to flood civilization into a floating oblivion.
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Filming shut down 3 times due to hurricane alerts.
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Kevin Costner was on the set 157 days, working 6 days a week.
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The atoll set was over 1/4 mile in circumference.
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The boat Kevin Costner used in the movie was sold to Turkish businessman Hakan Uzan. After the Uzan family went bankrupt, the government confiscated and later auctioned the boat.
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Tina Majorino was nicknamed "Jellyfish Candy" by the crew after she was stung three different times during production.
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LOGO GIMMICK: The Universal Studios logo, the planet Earth, was given a close-up, and as it got closer, the continents began to fade away until there was nothing left... but water. This inevitably takes the viewer into the action, along with the involving accompanying narrative of what's happened to the earth.
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The child's name, Enola, is "alone" spelled backwards.
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One script (later rejected) called for a second moon to appear in the sky, intimating that the cataclysm which created Waterworld was gravity-related, rather than warming.
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Although the exact year that the film takes place is never mentioned, production designer Dennis Gassner has suggested it's set in 2500. This is mentioned Janine Pourroy's "The Making of Waterworld," published by Boulevard Books in 1995.
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The original screenplay by Peter Rader was pitched as an children's adventure film, when he was looking for a project he could direct himself. One producer told him that if he could come up with a good Mad Max rip-off, they had a South-African investor who would help fund this movie, so Rader conceived of an apocalyptic story set on the sea. In Rader's screenplay the Mariner was a human and the chief defender of the Atoll, whose embarrassing secret was that he enjoyed painting pictures of seahorses; Helen had two of her own children along with the adopted Enola, and the Deacon was a campy, silly villain who dressed up like King Trident, sat atop a throne on the Exxon Valdez, and punished his subordinates by slapping them around the face with a wet fish. Also, Enola's tattoo would give instructions on how to find Water's End (as Dryland was called in his script) by looking for its outline as a shadow on the moon. Subsequent rewrites by David Twohy and Joss Whedon turned the original script into a much more serious action-adventure film.
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Kevin Costner nearly died when he got caught in a squall while tied to the mast of his trimaran.
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Kevin Costner and Kim Coates became good friends after this movie and later worked together on Open Range (2003) which was directed by Costner.
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Stunt coordinator Norman Howell got hit with compression sickness during filming of an underwater scene and was rushed to a hospital in Honolulu via helicopter. He recovered fairly quickly from the potentially life-threatening sickness and returned to the set a couple days later.
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The cost of the massive Atoll floating set, 1,000 tonnes and a quarter of a mile in length, was $22m.
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Jeanne Tripplehorn couldn't bear to go near a swimming pool for months after completing the lengthy shoot.
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Mark Isham's score was reported rejected because it was "too ethnic".
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The most remembered line from the film, "Dryland is not a myth; I have seen it", is never spoken in the film itself.
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Kevin Costner's stunt double was washed out to sea and several extras nearly drowned.
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A French science fiction graphic novel called Aquablue, created in 1988 by writer Thierry Cailleteau, explores very similar themes as this movie, although it's set in the future where mankind can traverse space, and it takes place not on Earth, but on a hostile water planet called Aquablue where a survivor from a crashed space cruiser and his robot must survive.
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The entire slaver faction was written out when the set was destroyed.
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Mark Isham's score, which was not recorded and only demos were completed for approximately 25% of the film, was reportedly rejected by Kevin Costner because it was "too ethnic and bleak", contrasting the film's futuristic and adventurous tone. Isham offered to try again, but was not given the chance.
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When Universal studio got involved, their choices for director were Robert Zemeckis or Lawrence Kasdan over the original choice Kevin Reynolds. Reynolds went on to do Rapa Nui (1994) first, and got the job afterwards when neither Zemeckis nor Kasdan had committed. Reynolds insisted that the cause of all the flooding was a man-made disaster as he wanted an environmental message. He first asked David Webb Peoples to do rewrites, but when Peoples was unavailable, David Twohy was hired.
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The four-machine gun chassis in the atoll assault scene is called a Maxon Mount. It is comprised of four .50 caliber Browning machine guns and was used as an anti-aircraft battery during World War II. It also came in a two gun mount which was used up to & in the Vietnam War as a Point Defense Weapon.
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It has been reported that Roger Corman passed on making this film because he felt it could not be made for less than $3 million.
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In an interview with David Letterman shortly before the film was released, Kevin Costner said that one of the worst aspects of the production was that his character had to look "wet" during the shoot. To achieve the effect, Costner was required to be doused with buckets of water between takes while wearing the Mariner's costume. Costner said that while he recognized that the crew were only doing their job and they were friends of his, getting hit with water every few minutes really tried his patience with them.
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Costume designer John Bloomfield estimated that over 2000 costumes were made.
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The Mariner wears a piece of a printed circuit board as a necklace.
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Gary Oldman told GQ magazine that he rejected the Deacon role for one reason, he flicked a coin and took a role in " The Scarlet Letter " instead.
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Inspired by racing trimarans built by Jeanneau Advanced Technologies' multi-hull division Lagoon; a custom 60 foot (18 m) yacht was designed by Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot-Prevost and built in France by Lagoon. Two versions were built, a relatively standard racing trimaran for distance shots, and an effects-laden transforming trimaran for closeup shots. The first trimaran was launched on 2 April 1994, and surpassed 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) in September of that year. The transforming version was first seen in the film as a sort of raft with a three-bladed egg-beater windmill. When needed, levers could be triggered that would flatten the windmill blades while raising a hidden mast to full racing height. A boom emerged, previously hidden in the hull, and the two sails were automatically unfurled. Once the transformation was complete this version could actually sail, although not as well as the dedicated racer. The transforming version is in private hands in San Diego, California. For many years, the racing version was kept in a lake at Universal Studios Florida, before being restored for use as a racing trimaran named Loe Real, which was being offered for sale in San Diego.
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Jack Nicholson was considered for The Deacon, but was deemed too expensive. Nicholson's friend Dennis Hopper was cast in the role. Nicholson and Hopper were in Easy Rider (1969), also directed by Hopper.
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The film had a tie-in video game released on the Nintendo Virtual Boy, although it sold poorly due to the system being considered a commercial failure. This is the only game released on the Virtual Boy based on a feature film.
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Director Kevin Reynolds asked Steven Spielberg for counsel, as he had experience with filming on water while making Jaws (1975). Spielberg gave him one simple advice: do not shoot on open water. Jaws had a production that was almost as troubled as Waterworld's would be, due to Spielberg's insistence to shoot on the ocean rather than a water tank or lake. The inability to control the elements on the open sea caused Jaws' shoot to infamously balloon from a scheduled 55 days to over 150.
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Kevin Costner would later star in another post-apocalyptic flick which he would also play a nameless drifter whom becomes an unlikely hero - The Postman (1997).
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Jeanne Tripplehorn and Tina Majorino would later go on to star together in the HBO series Big Love (2006).
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Seventeen years after this movie was released Kevin Costner worked with Kevin Reynolds on Hatfields & McCoys (2012).
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Screenwriters Peter Rader and David Twohy never acknowledged that George Miller's Mad Max trilogy was a huge influence behind the film.
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A PC game based on the film Waterworld: The Quest for Dry Land was released in 1997. The only actors from the film to return for the PC Game are R.D. Call as Enforcer, Jack Kehler as Tallyman and Zakes Mokae as Elder.
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Sets were destroyed by hurricanes.
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The Hydro that The Mariner, Nord and some other characters drink in the movie is purified fresh water.
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This is the second of three films starring Kevin Costner, that James Newton Howard has composed music for; the first film was Wyatt Earp (1994) and the third film was The Postman (1997).
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Screenwriter David Twohy later went on to write and direct the Riddick films starring Vin Diesel as the title anti-hero Richard B. Riddick which were produced and released by Universal Pictures which was the production company that produced and released Waterworld (1995).
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Kim Coates later went on to star in another post apocalyptic flick - Battlefield Earth (2000).
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Kevin Costner and Christian Slater - who appeared together in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) (also directed by Kevin Reynolds) - would go on to co-star with Dennis Hopper; Costner in this film and Slater in True Romance (1993).
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Samuel L. Jackson whom turned down The Deacon would later go on to star as Nick Fury in the cinematic Marvel comic book universe. Both The Deacon and Nick Fury are bald and wear an eye patch.
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When viewed from the air, the outline of the Atoll resembles a Horseshoe crab.
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The film was originally meant as a mid-budget film for production company Largo Entertainment, who chose to make a post-apocalyptic movie in an attempt to bring down costs, by re-using old costumes and sets; Universal Studios would only handle the film's distribution. Once Kevin Costner got attached to the project and the script was rewritten towards a big blockbuster film, it became too costly for Largo alone, so Universal stepped in as a producer and funder as well. However, Universal had even bigger ambitions regarding the movie's scope, causing the project to grow out of proportion, which, coupled with costly delays and productional disasters, pushed the budget from its intended $60 million to an estimated $175 million.
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Jack Kehler and Kim Coates also co-starred in The Last Boy Scout (1991).
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The portrait on the wall that Deacon calls "Old Saint Joe" is Joseph Hazelwood, who crashed the Exxon Valdez oil tanker into a reef off of Alaska's southern coast, spilling millions of gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound. When the Smokers' boat sinks, the name "Exxon Valdez" is clearly visible. The real Exxon Valdez was repaired and renamed several times, changed hands several times, and briefly hauled oil across the Mediterranean Sea. In 2012 it was officially decommissioned by the Chinese company that owned it. It was taken to the ship-breaking yards of Alang, Gujarat, India where it was broken down and sold for scrap.
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In the original ending of the film, we learn that The Mariner isn't leaving simply because he is freaked out over Dryland or that he feels he truly belongs on the open waters of Waterworld. He reveals to Helen that there may be other mutants like himself out there and that he must find them to tell them about Dryland and Helen.
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Although it is never confirmed in the theatrical cut that Dryland is actually Mount Everest, the numbers on the tattoo on Enola's back actually give Everest's exact coordinates. In the longer Ulysses Cut of the film, it is made explicit: as Helen and Enola wave goodbye to the Mariner from a mountain top, they find a plaque that commemorates the first explorers (Hillary and Norgay) setting foot on Mount Everest's summit in 1953.
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In the extended cut of the film at the end of the movie, as The Mariner is about to set sail and leave Dryland, Helen tells The Mariner about the Greek legend of Ulysses, which is Helen's farewell gift to The Mariner, which he will need on his journey and that she is suggesting that Ulysses should be his name.
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