Poor Kevin Costner is still steaming over 1995’s critical and financial disaster, Waterworld. The movie stands as a seminal example of an ego-driven nightmare with a bloated budget and few returns. Back in the day, the movie cost $175 million to make, which is nothing compared to today’s blockbusters, but it was one of the biggest gambles at the time. The film brought in only $88 million in North America, and its international take brought it close to breaking even, if one didn’t account for promotional costs.
Most people agree Waterworld was an unnecessary and overwrought apocalyptic nightmare, but Costner disagrees. After all, The Postman fared much worse in theaters. Costner recently had a text conversation with critic Jeffrey Wells, who dutifully trashed the movie upon its release. Costner insists his movie is a treasure around the world:
“I’m not sure you know how hard people work [on films]. I’m not sure you know how beloved the movie is around the world. Being hard [on a film] is really easy if you don’t know the underbelly of what [went into it]. When you do know the forensics of a movie — the participation and decisions of others that one has to stand in front of — you can’t help but see it differently.”
Yeah, Costner is still very sore over the movie’s reception and ongoing joke status. It’s hard to blame him for being upset, but 20 years later, it’s time to let go, man. Let Waterworld take its rightful place amongst guilty pleasures for a select few moviegoers. Costner has a point, though, that critics and audiences rarely appreciate the work that goes into “the forensics” of filmmaking. Yet the job of a contemporary critic is to review a film for its audience appeal, especially in the case of a popcorn cruncher, which is likely what Costner was aiming for with Waterworld.