Why Waterworld couldn’t recreate Mad Max’s success


Water world shamelessly borrowed much of his post-apocalyptic aesthetic from Mad Max, so why couldn’t the movie recreate the massive success of this franchise? Released in 1979, Mad Max was a surprise hit for director George Miller. Star Mel Gibson was quickly offered major roles in Hollywood thanks to the success of the cult thriller, and the series has largely maintained a positive reception throughout a trio of sequels.

The original Mad Max was a sparse revenge thriller that saw Gibson’s titular police officer pushed to violence by a biker gang who murdered his family in the near future in the throes of crime. The higher and exaggerated suite The road warrior took place after an offscreen apocalypse and transformed the now almost mute Max into an almost mythical wanderer. Despite the new post-apocalyptic setting, The road warriorThe fast-paced action was still as realistic as the original film.

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Related: Why George Miller Was Right To Recast Charlize Theron For Mad Max Spinoff Furiosa

In the years since the start of the series, Mad Max has had a disproportionate influence on science fiction cinema in general, but a famous blockbuster has shamelessly stolen from the franchise. the Mad Max movies, and The road warrior, in particular, was the main inspiration for the 1995 Kevin Costner vehicle Water world. A too long and serious science fiction show, Water world managed to turn a profit despite its absurd budget, but was criticized by critics after its controversial production made it the most expensive film of all time. Despite some dissenting voices like Roger Ebert pleading for the redemptive qualities of the project, overall, Water world was a resounding dud with critics at the time. So what went wrong for the movie inspired by Mad Max, but so good for the series that influenced Costner’s blockbuster?

Waterworld and Mad Max similarities explained

Water world Kevin Costner

Original Water world writer Peter Rader admitted that the film started life as a Mad Max scam, while later contributor David Twohy cited Mad Maxthe first sequel to as his greatest inspiration. Creative debt is clear, with Water world and The road warrior both featuring an almost silent hero who saves a small civilization from a group of marauders ransacking their supplies in a post-apocalyptic setting. Both films feature cheesy villains, groups of disposable (and oddly dressed) henchmen, and future savings based on bartering with clean water and fuel. Credit to Water world, the film presents a memorably original setting thanks to its premise, with the entire earth submerged under water thanks to the rise in sea level. However, this ambitious element may also have been at least partially responsible for the financial disappointment of the movie.

Waterworld’s big budget vs Mad Max’s cheap thrills

Water world Kevin Costner

Like the equally marine flop of the 90s Cut-throat Island, Water world was not cheap. At all. The film cost a record $ 175 million to produce – for context, it remains the twelfth most expensive film ever to be made, even adjusted for inflation. On the other hand, Mad Max was once the highest grossing film ever produced, making over $ 100 million on a budget of just $ 300,000. Miller’s thrifty original entry cost next to nothing to produce and was an unexpected huge hit on release, meaning the film never had a lengthy production process and ambitious vision to live up to. , in contrary Water world. In fact, George Miller later admitted that the original Mad Max was only fixed in the future to save on filming costs.

It was far from Water world, which required huge floating sets and revolutionary technology that cost millions, pushing back the production of large sums of money before anything was even shot. however, Road warrior is the film that inspired the most Water world, not just the original Mad MaxSo it’s not fair to compare Costner’s expensive epic with Miller’s cult hit. However, this sequel also cost only $ 4 million to produce, which, while far more than the original, was even close to a fraction of Water worldthe skyrocketing budget. In addition, The road warrior spent that money wisely, investing in as much on-screen action as possible. Water world, on the other hand, devoted a large chunk of its investment to a slower story, which was another big issue.

Related: Which Mad Max Movie Has The Most Bodies

Mad Max’s Trim Runtime vs. Waterworld Bloat

aquatic world arrow blu-ray poster

135 minutes away, Water world wouldn’t be considered an incredibly long blockbuster by contemporary standards. However, compared to the original Mad Max‘s trim 93 minutes and The road warrior‘s 96 minutes, the film had little reason to drag out its post-apocalyptic sci-fi story. The story of Water world is not much more complicated than that of Mad Max. As summarized above, most of the screen time in both films is spent on the antihero helping a small community fight off the evil scavengers. however, Water world is much slower to put this story together, which made some viewers feel disengaged from the film. In the world of Mad Maxless is more, and Miller’s films have always prided themselves on telling believable stories set in clearly etched futures without ever skimping on action in the process.

Mad Max exhibition (lack) against Waterworld’s Worldbuilding

Mad Max: Fury Road - unidentified adult standing next to a battered car in a desert wasteland

The mere mention of the next Mad Max spin off FuriosaThe epic reach of was enough to worry many followers of the franchise, as the show’s strengths have always resided in simple, well-told stories, as opposed to convoluted mythologies. Water world, on the other hand, tries to explain its future and thus gets lost completely in tradition. Ironically, much of the action in the film is well staged, but its slow pace and endless exposure meant that his world was both more over-explained and, ironically, less easy to understand than Mad Max, where viewers can do everything but guess what happened between movies.

Or Water world felt the need to establish exactly how the world was flooded, if there was a refuge somewhere, and how its heroes survived the disaster, Mad Max doesn’t even deal with the franchise’s off-screen apocalypse. That’s not to say the series isn’t environmentally conscious, with Mad MaxFuel scarcity effectively predicts peak oil decades earlier. However, unlike Water world, Mad Max and its sequels skillfully weave that unspoken backstory into the elegantly produced film, instead of stopping the action for an inelegant exposure dump.

Next: Does The Extended Waterworld “Ulysses Cut” Make It A Better Movie?

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