- Box Office Bomb: Zig-Zagged. It is often cited as one of the most notorious box office failures in movie history. The truth is a bit more complicated. Those who see information on box-office tracking websites will see that it made barely over $88 million in the home market, against the budget of $175 million... but also $176 million worldwide. Of course that number alone doesn't take into account that studios and theaters split the revenue, additional taxes on foreign profits, not to mention the prints and advertising, which added another $60 million into what the studio spent on it. Still, even if those are accounted for, it's not spectacular, but clear profit and far from bombing. But the most important factor is when the movie was made and released. In The '90s, studios weren't looking at worldwide revenue all that much, considering it meaningless in the big picture, focusing entirely on American market. Since it didn't even made half of its budget back in States, Waterworld was instantly hailed as a bomb, despite being a smashing hit all over the world. If it was made today, it would be chalked up as an underperforming, but still successful production. It's not helping the production of the movie had an extensive (and in retrospect, outright obsessive) coverage by media as "most expensive production ever that's out of any control", so everyone in the industry was considering it a flop before it even hit cinemas and then re-affirmed their stance once it underperformed in the US. In the end, the "bomb" status was a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy that was believed by everyone so hard they've ignored actual numbers.
- Directed By Castmember: After Kevin Reynolds quit/was fired, Kevin Costner directed most of the film himself.
- Executive Meddling:
- Unusually it was actually Costner editing with rumours of him firing Reynolds.
- Relatedly, script doctor Joss Whedon says his job was basically taking notes from Costner.
- Fatal Method Acting: Averted. Jeanne Tripplehorn and Tina Majorino nearly drowned on their first day of filming when the trimaran they were on sank, dragging them behind it. Meanwhile, Kevin Costner nearly died when he got caught in a squall while tied to the mast of his trimaran.
- Novelization: Written by mystery/comics writer Max Allan Collins, the novelization did a good job of expanding character backstory and tying loose plot threads together.
- Referenced by...: In the TUGS segment, "Otis the Movie Star" from the Salty's Lighthouse episode, "Sound Off", Mr. Boffo and Mr. Socko while looking for a movie star, mention a movie they made entitled Underwater World.
- Star-Derailing Role: It proved to be a serious setback in Kevin Costner's career, followed up by the financial failure of The Postman two years later. Ironically, the damage caused by Waterworld feels almost ridiculous in retrospection, since the film wasn't the bomb the film industry wanted it to be and the extreme panning by critics, mostly related with production problems rather than the movie itself, made the film look much worse than it really was.
- Troubled Production: The budget overan (from $100 million to the then-record $175 million), director Kevin Reynolds either quit or was fired and leading Kevin Costner to further take over the film, a hurricane destroyed the sets, stuntmen got lost or nearly drowned... and Executive Meddling kicked in to order cuts and reshoots. Cracked has more on the subject.
- Uncredited Role: Joss Whedon was an uncredited script doctor for the screenplay. He described the experience as "seven weeks of hell" and claimed that his job was taking notes from Kevin Costner.
- Wag the Director: According to Joss Whedon, Kevin Costner "fired" Kevin Reynolds halfway through. Costner demanded the movie to be shot in the ocean rather than in a water tank on land... which led to the construction of an expensive water tank set in the ocean. Since there were no bathrooms on the set people had to be ferried regularly to land so they could poop. Throw in the fact that between takes Costner was living in a mansion with swimming pool and a cook for his personal use with all expenses covered by the producers and you'll understand that the rest of the crew was a bit upset. And last but not least, Costner demanded the VFX crew to hide his receding hairline digitally (not a cheap feat in 1995). The result? The most expensive film ever produced until the release of Titanic (1997).
- What Could Have Been:
- The film originated as a writer's pitch to notoriously low-budget producer Roger Corman. Corman turned it down saying that it would cost them $5 million.
- The version that Universal ended up buying was basically a kiddie flick — Enola was the main character alongside two of Helen's own kids, the Mariner was a human and largely a supporting character, while the early version of the Deacon can only be described as being how you'd expect the Adam West Batman series to characterize him. Needless to say, the subsequent drafts took the film in a very different direction.
- Universal Pictures wanted Robert Zemeckis note to direct. Kevin Costner insisted on having Kevin Reynolds.
- Also: The film originally had a different composer, Mark Isham, but his soundtrack was thrown out and replaced with a new score by James Newton Howard. Both scores present drastically different tones to the material, with the latter being more adventurous and upbeat sounding.
- The entire slaver faction was written out when the set was destroyed.
- 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.
- Samuel L. Jackson turned down the role of Deacon in order to be in Die Hard with a Vengeance. James Caan, Gene Hackman, and Gary Oldman also turned it down, while Gary Busey, Laurence Fishburne, John Malkovich and Jack Nicholson were considered.
- Anna Paquin was the first choice to play Enola.
- 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.
Trivia / Waterworld