More than 25 years after Waterworld hit theaters, producer John Davis is ready to return to the open seas, as he’s developing a Waterworld streaming series that has Dan Trachtenberg attached to direct. “We’re going to do the streaming version of that movie, the continuation of that movie,” said Davis.
Waterworld starred Kevin Costner as The Mariner, an otherwise nameless drifter who sails the Earth, which has flooded after the polar ice cap completely melted, forcing the sea level to rise. The Mariner, whose body has mutated in order to adapt to its water-logged surroundings, reluctantly agrees to help a woman (Jeanne Triplehorn) and a young girl (Tina Majorino) try to find dry land while they fight off starvation and outrun a group of outlaw “smokers” led by the late Dennis Hopper.
The series is expected to follow the characters from the original 1995 movie, and though Davis didn’t mention any specific actors. he acknowledged it would take place “20 years later. All those people, 20 years later.”
“We’re not 100% sure on the approach to the show. But definitely, we’re in the building stages right now,” added John Fox, who has been Davis‘ producing partner at Davis Entertainment for nearly a decade.
“Larry Gordon and myself, we’re the producers on that movie. And with John, we are all re-imagining it for the streaming version,” said Davis, who acknowledged that he’d found a home for the series, though he declined to identify which streamer will be involved.
“For now, it’s at Universal Television, and we are putting it together. But yes, we think it already has a home,” added Fox, perhaps signaling a Peacock deal given Universal Television‘s involvement.
The project is still in the early stages of development, so there’s no showrunner attached yet.
“We’re talking to folks, but nobody locked in yet,” said Fox. “Dan‘s attached, we’re breaking the story now and we’re talking to a few different writers. And we should have a writer locked in, I would think, over the next couple of weeks.”
Directed by Kevin Reynolds, who wrote the original Red Dawn and had previously worked with Costner on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Waterworld was the most expensive film ever made at the time, and with a sizable target on its back, it drew mixed reviews from critics. The film grossed $264 million worldwide on a reported production budget of $175 million, and while it did ultimately turn a profit thanks to a robust home video market and ancillary revenue streams, Waterworld was seen as a disappointment, though it may have simply been ahead of its time.
“The only movie that I went back recently, that we made and rewatched and I was surprised at how well it held up, is Waterworld,” said Davis. “For many, many years I didn’t really want to see it because I thought the movie didn’t work, it wasn’t what the script was, it was not as good as the script, it had its production problems. And then I went back and saw it again, and it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, this movie ages great with time.'”
Indeed, Waterworld offers simple pleasures that many of today’s soulless CG-riddled blockbusters lack, and though it’s far from perfect, the futuristic film deserves credit for its sheer scope and ambition. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how Trachtenberg approaches that world, which feels ripe for a fledgling streaming service such as Peacock that is looking for Universal IP to adapt.
Trachtenberg made his directorial debut with 10 Cloverfield Lane and he’s currently filming a new Predator movie that has a current working title of Skull, though that could very well change between now and release. He also directed the pilot for The Boys, which further upped his stock within the industry. If anyone can salvage the fascinating premise at the core of Waterworld and turn it into something special, it just may be him, especially if his Predator movie lives up to the early hype.