Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
|Directed by||Brian Levant|
|Produced by||Bruce Cohen|
|Based on||The Flintstones|
by William Hanna and
|Music by||David Newman|
|Edited by||Kent Beyda|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$341.6 million|
The Flintstones (also known as The Flintstones Movie or The Flintstones: The Live-Action Movie in the working title) is a 1994 American comedy film directed by Brian Levant and written by Tom S. Parker, Jim Jennewein, and Steven E. de Souza. It is a live-action motion picture adaptation of the 1960–1966 animated television series. The film stars John Goodman as Fred Flintstone, Rick Moranis as Barney Rubble, Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma Flintstone and Rosie O'Donnell as Betty Rubble, along with Kyle MacLachlan as a villainous executive-vice president of Fred's company, Halle Berry as his seductive secretary, and Elizabeth Taylor (in her final theatrical film appearance), as Pearl Slaghoople, Wilma's mother. The B-52's (as The BC-52's in the film) performed their version of the cartoon's theme song.
The film, shot in California, was theatrically released on May 27, 1994, and earned almost $342 million worldwide against a $46 million budget, making it a huge box office success, despite earning negative reviews from critics. Observers criticized the storyline and tone, which they deemed too adult and mature for family audiences, as well as the questionable casting of O'Donnell as Betty and Taylor as Pearl, but praised its faithfulness to its source material, visual effects, costume design, art direction, and performances (particularly Goodman's as Fred). A tie-in promotion with McDonald's was made to promote the film. The movie was originally acquired by New Line Cinema, but then sold to Universal Pictures.
A prequel titled The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas was released in 2000.
In prehistoric suburban Bedrock, Slate & Co.'s new vice-president Cliff Vandercave and secretary Miss Sharon Stone discuss their plan to swindle the company of its vast fortune and flee, and that they need one of their employees to be responsible for it. Fred Flintstone loans his best friend and neighbor Barney Rubble money so that he and his wife Betty can adopt a little boy named Bamm-Bamm, who can pronounce only his own name. Although he is initially difficult to control because he has super strength, he eventually warms up to his new family and befriends Fred’s daughter Pebbles. Barney vows to repay his friend. Despite his mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople's objections, Fred's wife Wilma remains supportive of his decision.
Cliff holds an aptitude test; the worker with the highest mark will become the company's new vice president. Barney gets the highest score but switches his paper with Fred, whom he knows will fail. Fred receives the promotion, but his first order is to dismiss Barney, who now effectively has the lowest score. Fred is unwilling to fire him, but Cliff tells Fred if he does not, he will fire Barney for him and Fred will be fired too. Fred reluctantly but willingly accepts, but does his best to help Barney support his family, even inviting the Rubbles to live with them so that they can rent out their house. However, Fred's job and newfound wealth put a strain on his relationships with Wilma and the Rubbles. Cliff eventually tricks Fred into dismissing the workers, over the objections of his office Dictabird. Later, Barney confronts Fred after seeing worker riots on the news. He reveals that he switched tests with Fred, and the Rubbles move out, despite having nowhere to live. Wilma and Pebbles also leave for Pearl's house, leaving Fred behind.
Fred goes to the quarry and realizes his mistake and Cliff's plan, he tries to get Mr. Slate to fire Cliff, but Cliff had manipulated the events to make it look as if Fred stole the money, and has reported it to the police. A manhunt for Fred ensues by the police and the workers. Wilma and Betty see this on the news, and break into Slate & Co. to get the Dictabird, the only witness who can clear Fred's name, unaware that Cliff saw them from his office window. As Fred attempts to enter a cave where the workers are seeking refuge, they see through his disguise and attempt to hang him. Barney is almost hanged as well after he admits his part. Fred and Barney reconcile, but before they can be hanged, Wilma and Betty arrive with the Dictabird, Wilma tells the workers that Fred was framed and then the Dictabird tells them that Cliff was the one who fired them, then the workers have a change in heart by releasing Fred and Barney after learning about Cliff's plan.
When the Flintstones and Rubbles return home, they saw that the house was burglarized, Dino and Pearl tied up and Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm were gone and a note saying that Fred must return the Dictabird to Cliff in the morning and is not allowed to call the police, Fred then realized that Cliff kidnapped the children, then Fred and Barney confront Cliff at the quarry, where Cliff has tied Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm to a huge machine. Though they hand him the Dictabird, Cliff activates the machine to stall them. Barney rescues the children from Cliff while Fred destroys the machine. The Dictabird escapes from Cliff and lures him back to the quarry, where Miss Stone knocks him out, having had a change of heart after learning that Cliff was planning to betray her. The police, Wilma, Betty, and Mr. Slate arrive and Cliff attempts to flee, but he is petrified by a substance falling from the machine.
Fred and the Dictabird tell the police what Cliff has done and all charges against Fred are dropped, even though Miss Stone also had a change in heart by saving Fred from Cliff, she's still arrested by the police as Cliff's henchwoman. Impressed with the substance that Fred inadvertently created by destroying the machine, Mr. Slate dubs the substance "concrete" in honor of his daughter Concretia and makes plans to produce it with Fred as the president of its division, thus ending the Stone Age. Having realized the negatives of his wealth and status as the new CEO, Fred declines and asks that the workers be rehired and given the job benefits he initially set out to achieve, which is granted. As the Flintstones and Rubbles have finally made amends, Fred and Barney get into a humorous quarrel when Fred once again asks Barney for a small amount of money for breakfast.
- John Goodman as Fred Flintstone
- Rick Moranis as Barney Rubble
- Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma Flintstone
- Rosie O'Donnell as Betty Rubble
- Kyle MacLachlan as Cliff Vandercave
- Halle Berry as Miss Stone
- Elizabeth Taylor as Pearl Slaghoople
- Mel Blanc (archive audio) as Dino: Blanc previously supplied the voice of Barney and Dino in the original animated series.
- Elaine and Melanie Silver as Pebbles Flintstone
- Russi Taylor (uncredited) as the voice of Pebbles Flintstone
- Hlynur and Marinó Sigurðsson as Bamm-Bamm Rubble
- E. G. Daily (uncredited) as the voice of Bamm-Bamm Rubble
- Dann Florek as Mr. Slate
- Richard Moll as Hoagie
- Irwin Keyes as Joe Rockhead
- Jim Doughan as Maitre d'
- Harvey Korman as the voice of Dictabird: Korman previously voiced The Great Gazoo in the original animated series.
- Jonathan Winters as Grizzled Man, a co-worker of Fred and Barney's
- Jack O'Halloran as Yeti
- The B-52's as The BC-52's
- Jean Vander Pyl as Mrs. Feldspar: Vander Pyl previously voiced Wilma and Pebbles in the original animated series.
- Laraine Newman as Susan Rock
- Sheryl Lee Ralph as Mrs. Pyrite
- Jay Leno as host of Bedrock's Most Wanted
- William Hanna as a boardroom executive
- Joseph Barbera as a man driving a Mersandes
- Sam Raimi as Cliff Vandercave look-alike
Development and writing
In 1985, producers Keith Barish and Joel Silver bought the rights for a live-action feature film version of The Flintstones and commissioned Steven E. de Souza to write a script with Richard Donner hired to direct. De Souza's script submitted in September 1987 was eventually rejected and in October 1989 a new script by Daniel and Joshua Goldin was submitted. Peter Martin Wortmann and Robert Conte submitted another draft in March 1990 before Mitch Markowitz was hired to write a script. Said to be a cross of The Grapes of Wrath, Markowitz commented that "I don't even remember it that well, but Fred and Barney leave their town during a terrible depression and go across the country, or whatever that damn prehistoric thing is, looking for jobs. They wind up in trailer parks trying to keep their families together. They exhibit moments of heroism and poignancy". Markowitz's version was apparently too sentimental for director Donner, who disliked it. A further draft was then submitted and revised by Jeffrey Reno and Ron Osbourne in 1991 and 1992. Eventually, the rights were bought by Amblin Entertainment and Steven Spielberg who, after working with Goodman on Always, was determined to cast him in the lead as Fred. Brian Levant was hired as director, knowing he was the right person because of his love for the original series. They knew he was an avid fan of the series because of his Flintstones items collection and the knowledge he had from the series.
When Levant was hired, all previous scripts were thrown out. In May 1992, Michael J. Wilson submitted a 4-page story that became the basis for the film. This was turned into a script by Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker. A meeting of Levant, Bruce Cohen, Jason Hoffs and Kate Barker gave notes to Gary Ross, who produced another draft. Levant then recruited what he called an "all-star writing team" which consisted of his writer friends from television shows such as Family Ties, Night Court, and Happy Days. "This is a sitcom on steroids", said Levant. "We were just trying to improve it." The writers, dubbed the Flintstone Eight, were Al Aidekman, Cindy Begel, Lloyd Garver, David Silverman, Stephen Sustarsic, Nancy Steen, Neil Thompson plus Levant. The group wrote a new draft but four more round table sessions ensued, each of which was attended by new talent, including Rob Dames, Lenny Ripps, Fred Fox Jr., Dava Savel, Lon Diamond, David Richardson, Roy Teicher, Richard Gurman, Michael J. Digaetano and Ruth Bennett. Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel worked on it next with Levant, taking home a reported $100,000 for just two days work. Rick Moranis was also present at Levant's roundtables, and later described the film as "one of those scripts that had about 18 writers". Levant made eight more revisions before finally registering a shooting script on August 7, 1993. Of the 35 writers, the Flintstone Eight were submitted for arbitration by the Writers Guild of America plus Wilson for story credit, however, credit was given to the first script by De Souza and to Jennewein and Parker for their drafts.
The effects for Dino, the Dictabird and other prehistoric creatures were provided by Jim Henson's Creature Shop while most of the film's CGI effects were provided by Industrial Light & Magic after Levant was impressed by their work on the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (another Universal/Amblin production released the previous year).
John Candy, Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase were all considered for the role of Fred Flintstone. the last four actors were all deemed too skinny and a fat suit was deemed too inappropriate to be used. Goodman felt he was "sandbagged" into the role of Flintstone years earlier at the table read for the film Always, when Steven Spielberg announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to say something before we start: I've found my Fred Flintstone." Goodman said it was "not a role I was looking forward to doing" but said the experience was "fun." If Goodman had turned the role down, the film would not have been made. Geena Davis, Faith Ford, and Catherine O'Hara were all considered for the role of Wilma. Elizabeth Perkins won the role. Danny DeVito was the original first choice for Barney, but he turned down the role as he felt he was too gruff to do the character properly and reportedly suggested Rick Moranis for the role. DeVito was also considered for Fred Flintstone. Although Janine Turner was considered, Rosie O'Donnell won the role of Betty Rubble with her impersonation of the cartoon character's signature giggle. Both Tracey Ullman and Daphne Zuniga were also considered for the role. Sharon Stone was to play Miss Stone, but turned it down because of scheduling conflicts. The role was also offered to Nicole Kidman. Anna Nicole Smith was also considered. Both Audrey Meadows and Elizabeth Montgomery were considered for the role of Pearl Slaghoople.
Principal photography began on May 17, 1993, and wrapped on August 20, 1993. Parts of the film were shot at Glen Canyon in Utah as well as Los Angeles County, California. Sets that resembled a complete street from Bedrock were constructed adjacent to Vasquez Rocks in California. Before being totally demolished, visitors could tour the location.
Despite the negative reviews, The Flintstones was a box office success, grossing $130,531,208 domestically, including the $37,182,745 it made during its 4-day Memorial Day opening weekend in 1994. It performed even better internationally, making another $211,100,000 internationally, for a total of $341,631,208 worldwide, more than seven times its $46 million budget.
On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 22% based on 46 reviews, with an average rating of 4.03/10. The site's consensus states, "The Flintstones wastes beloved source material and imaginative production design on a tepid script that plunks Bedrock's favorite family into a cynical story awash with lame puns." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 38 out of 100, which indicates "generally unfavorable reviews", based on 15 reviews. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A+ to F.
On Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times and his colleague Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two thumbs down, with Ebert giving it 2.5 stars out of 4 in his newspaper review, and Siskel giving it 1.5 stars out of 4 in his newspaper review. They both mentioned that its main story lines (embezzlement, mother-in-law problems, office politics and extra-marital affairs) were storylines for adult films, and ones that children would not be able to understand. However, many critics praised the film's look, faithfulness to the cartoon, Rosanna Norton's costume designs and Goodman's performance. A few reviews were positive, including Time magazine which said "The Flintstones is fun", and Joel Siegel from ABC's Good Morning America and WABC-TV who called the film "pre-historical, hysterical... great fun". In a 1997 interview, Joseph Barbera, co-founder of Hanna-Barbera Productions and co-creator of The Flintstones, stated that, although he was impressed by the film's visuals, he felt the story "wasn't as good as I could have made it."
- 1st worst – Desson Howe, The Washington Post
- 1st worst – Todd Anthony, Miami New Times
- 3rd worst – Janet Maslin, The New York Times
- 5th worst – Dan Craft, The Pantagraph
- 10th worst – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
- Worst films (not ranked) – Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News
O'Donnell won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress for her performance in this film. The film also won Worst Screenplay and was nominated for two others: Taylor as Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress (the second performance in the film nominated for this award) and for the film as Worst Remake or Sequel. At the 1994 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, the film was nominated for Worst Resurrection of a TV Show and Worst Actress for O'Donnell. However, the film also received four Saturn Award nominations, including Best Fantasy Film, Best Costume Design and Best Supporting Actress for O'Donnell's and Berry's performances.
McDonald's marketed a number of Flintstones promotions for the film, including the return of the McRib sandwich and the "Grand Poobah Meal" combo with it, a line of premium glass mugs, and toys based on characters and locations from the film. In the commercials and released items for the Flintstones promotion, McDonald's was renamed "RocDonald's" with stone age imagery, similarly to other businesses and proper names in the Flintstones franchise. The week the film was released, MTV aired a block of The Grind with Eric Nies at the film's Bedrock set with dancers in cave outfits performing to hit music at the time from Ace of Base, Was (Not Was), Warren G and Nate Dogg while Eric asked the dancers themed trivia questions from the show and encouraged the viewers to purchase the film's soundtrack. The Flintstones: The Movie, a video game based on the film, was developed by Ocean software and released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy and Mega Drive/Genesis (Sega Channel exclusive) in 1995. In the United Kingdom, Tetley promoted adverts with audio from the film, including mugs starring characters from the film. Jurassic Park, the name of another movie, was also seen briefly as a park in the film.
Home media release
A video game based on the film was released for the Game Boy, Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Channel in both 1994 and 1995 respectively, developed by Ocean Software (SNES), Twilight (GB), Hi-Tech (SC) and published by Ocean Software. In the game, the player takes control of Fred Flintstone and has to rescue Wilma, Barney, Pebbles and Bam-Bam from Cliff Vandercave.
A prequel, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, was released in 2000. The original main cast did not reprise their roles of the characters, though O'Donnell provided the voice of an octopus who gave massages to younger versions of Wilma and Betty. Irwin Keyes returned as Joe Rockhead, the only cast member to reprise his role from the first film. Like the first film, it received negative reviews.
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