Few movies enjoy as much notoriety as the 1995 box office disaster Waterworld. It’s an indefensibly bad movie that somehow conned its studio into more than tripling the size of the original budget during production.
Waterworld failed in so many ways that it’s almost hard to keep track of them all. It made only a fraction of its final budget back, it was nominated for 4 Razzies (an award given to the worst actors, directors and movies of the year), and it made headlines when three of its stars were injured on set.
Oh, and it probably led to one of the most expensive divorce settlements of the ’90s.
Employers aren’t liable for your ridiculous commute injury
In the state of Washington, businesses are not required to close in the face of inclement weather, but employees are guaranteed three days of leave per year to use when getting to the office is just too dangerous.
But Waterworld wasn’t filmed in the Evergreen State. It was shot in Hawaii, a paradise where surfing bros pilot their jet skis between islands to get to work.
Unbeknownst to most of the crew, Kevin Costner’s stunt double was riding his jet ski across 40 miles of open ocean between his home on Maui and the film’s set on the Big Island. When he didn’t show up for work one day, the production team phoned his wife, who informed them he had already left for work.
The stunt double’s jet ski had run out of gas halfway through his “commute” and a storm had swept him farther out to sea. It took a helicopter most of the day to find him.
They should’ve filmed Costner going out to find him and called it The Guardian. That would’ve been far more engaging than two-and-a-half hours of him selling dirt from the back of a jet ski.
OSHA violations and unsafe child labor, this movie had it all
The incidents that took place while the camera was rolling didn’t make it onto our Top 5 On-Set Injuries list, but they are equally absurd.
For example, in an effort to portray the movie’s futuristic environment realistically, the production crew built a multimillion-dollar floating set piece and filmed nearly everything in the open ocean.
It sounded like a groundbreaking idea until...the tsunami warnings started.
The 1,000-ton “post-apocalyptic fortress” sunk first, but no one was hurt. Weeks later, another storm hit and the bowsprit of a trimaran Jeanne Tripplehorn and 12-year-old Tina Majorino were aboard snapped. The two were filming a shot that required them to be alone on the boat, and when the craft started sinking they were stuck swimming for their lives until rescue divers could pull them from the wreckage.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere about employer liability, but more importantly: if you don’t know what a bowsprit, or a trimaran is, just say “no” when your employer tells you to take a small child for a ride through tropical storms.
Fool me once, fool me twice...
The most embarrassing mishap of all was reserved for Waterworld’s star. One of the stunts required Costner to be tied to the top of an unmanned sailboat’s 40-foot-tall mast, and somehow not a single person thought that was a bad idea.
Right on cue, the storm winds kicked up again and the movie’s director/producer/star actor was helplessly battered by wind, seawater and the mast he was tied to. The safety crew was forced to protect themselves and the rest of their team, giving Costner a full half-hour to drift out to sea all by his lonesome.
Even as two actresses almost drowned and Costner and his stunt double were lost at sea, a different kind of disaster was brewing. Despite years of marital troubles, Waterworld seems to have been the final straw of Costner’s marriage.
Spoiler alert...he cheated
It wasn’t the pressure, the long days, or even Dennis Hopper’s notorious poker games that did them in. It was Dances With Wolves’ tropical tryst with a Hula dancer who worked at the beachfront villa he was staying in.
Within a couple days of the story breaking, the dancer in question disconnected her phone and avoided the press, so we’ll never know whether Hula really was what ended the Costner/Silva marriage. What we do know is that the $80 million divorce settlement (plus attorney fees) was almost exactly the same amount as Waterworld’s box office revenue.
That’s a lot of divorce money. And despite sharing custody of their three children, it was a traumatic affair for everyone. But hey, that’s also how critics described seeing Costner in merman makeup and we survived that didn’t we?
Waterworld was an expensive, drawn-out ordeal, and if you want to prevent your personal injury or divorce case from setting the same course, visit our office today.
You don’t even need a 12-year-old with a map tattoo to find our Renton office.