Waterworld TV Sequel in the Works with Director Dan Trachtenberg

Original producers John Davis and John Fox want to bring back The Mariner for the streaming age

waterworld tv series universal reboot Dan Trachtenberg
Waterworld (Universal)

    One of Hollywood’s most notorious wrecks is getting raised from the depths. A TV sequel series to the beloved 1995 critical flop Waterworld is being developed by the film’s original producers.

    John Davis and John Fox confirmed the news in an interview with Collider, saying that director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane, the next Predator movie) is already onboard. “We’re not 100% sure on the approach to the show. But definitely, we’re in the building stages right now,” said Fox, noting that they’re expected to lock in a writer “over the next couple of weeks.”

    The plot will reportedly pick up with the same characters from the film 25 years later. Waterworld was set in future where polar ice caps had completely melted, covering all the Earth in ocean (prescient, n’est pas?). Kevin Costner starred as The Mariner, a mutated drifter who has adapted to the post-climate change reality with gills and webbed feet.


    On his travels, he meets a woman (Jeanne Triplehorn) and her ward, a young girl named Enola (Tina Majorino) who happens to have a map to the mythical last bit of Dryland tattooed on her back. When he agrees to help them decipher the map, they become the target of The Deacon (Dennis Hopper) and his gang of pirates known as Smokers.

    It was, essentially, Mad Max on water, but didn’t see nearly the same success. On-set squabbles and a ballooning budget (caused in no small part by a multi-million-dollar floating Atoll set being sunk by a hurricane) doomed the production in critics’ eyes before it even was finished. The constant setbacks led to Waterworld being the most expensive film ever made at the time, with a reported $175 million final budget. After earning just $88 million at the domestic box office, it was seen as a massive failure.

    Still, the movie ended up being well received overseas, bringing its worldwide gross to $264.2 million. Add in comic book and video game tie-ins and a trio of Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular attractions at Universal Studio theme parks worldwide (that are all still active today!), and Waterworld wasn’t as much of a disaster as its reputation suggests.


    In fact, the movie lives on as cult classic, with many involved in the film still proud of what they accomplished. “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,” Davis told Collider. “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.'”

    As for where the Waterworld sequel series might end up, Fox and Davis are set on bringing it to streaming, though they’ve yet to lock in a distributor. However, with the project currently being developed at Universal Television, it seems likely Peacock could be the final docking place. “We are putting it together,” said Fox. “But yes, we think it already has a home.”

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