The calculus on what makes a movie a success or a bomb continues to evolve, but the movie that first complicated that conversation set sail 25 years ago.
The most conspicuous expulsion of water in Waterworld is not the urine Kevin Costner’s gilled warrior guzzles during what is, incredibly, the film’s opening scene. It’s the jaunty, taunting flume he spits directly at Entertainment Weekly readers from the cover of the magazine’s most recent issue prior to release. Instead of a cute rebuke to the tsunami of toxic press swirling around the film throughout every stage of its production—not to mention the literal tsunami that at one point sank its floating set—the image seemed aimed at potential viewers. Costner appeared to be daring them not to go see the movie he had banked his entire reputation on.
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