Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)

R | 115 mins | Comedy | 15 May 1992

Director:

Richard Donner

Cinematographer:

Jan de Bont

Production Designer:

James Spencer

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures
Full page view
HISTORY

An item in the 30 Jul 1989 LAT announced that Warner Bros. had registered the title Lethal Weapon 3, for the second sequel to its successful Lethal Weapon (1987, see entry). A year and a half later, the 21 Jan 1991 DV reported that actor Mel Gibson was in negotiations with Warner Bros. for a complex deal that included film projects for Gibson, and a first-look development-production agreement with his company, Icon Productions. Reprising his role as “Martin Gibbs” in Lethal Weapon 3 was expected to be part of the deal.
       At that time, screenwriters Jeffrey Boam and Carlton Cuse were reportedly writing the script, but Cuse is not credited onscreen. As tracked in articles in the 11 May 1992 Var and the 31 May 1992 LAT, the screenwriting credits for Lethal Weapon 3 were unusual, with “Story by” credited to Jeffrey Boam, and “Screenplay by” credited to Jeffrey Boam and Jeffrey Boam & Robert Mark Kamen. Boam received the double “Screenplay by” credit because he wrote an initial draft of the script, then worked with Kamen on another draft. A Writers Guild of America (WGA) arbitration determined that there was sufficient material from Boam’s first script to warrant inclusion of his solo credit, and he was granted the team credit for the version written with Kamen. In addition to receiving future “Story by” residuals, the “Screenplay by” credit guaranteed Boam seventy-five percent of future residual payments for the script, with fifty percent for his solo half of the writing credit, and twenty-five percent from his shared ... More Less

An item in the 30 Jul 1989 LAT announced that Warner Bros. had registered the title Lethal Weapon 3, for the second sequel to its successful Lethal Weapon (1987, see entry). A year and a half later, the 21 Jan 1991 DV reported that actor Mel Gibson was in negotiations with Warner Bros. for a complex deal that included film projects for Gibson, and a first-look development-production agreement with his company, Icon Productions. Reprising his role as “Martin Gibbs” in Lethal Weapon 3 was expected to be part of the deal.
       At that time, screenwriters Jeffrey Boam and Carlton Cuse were reportedly writing the script, but Cuse is not credited onscreen. As tracked in articles in the 11 May 1992 Var and the 31 May 1992 LAT, the screenwriting credits for Lethal Weapon 3 were unusual, with “Story by” credited to Jeffrey Boam, and “Screenplay by” credited to Jeffrey Boam and Jeffrey Boam & Robert Mark Kamen. Boam received the double “Screenplay by” credit because he wrote an initial draft of the script, then worked with Kamen on another draft. A Writers Guild of America (WGA) arbitration determined that there was sufficient material from Boam’s first script to warrant inclusion of his solo credit, and he was granted the team credit for the version written with Kamen. In addition to receiving future “Story by” residuals, the “Screenplay by” credit guaranteed Boam seventy-five percent of future residual payments for the script, with fifty percent for his solo half of the writing credit, and twenty-five percent from his shared credit with Kamen.
       A 29 Oct 1991 HR production chart announced principal photography began 2 Oct 1991, with locations including Los Angeles, CA, and Orlando, FL. According to articles in the HR on 6 Dec 1991 and 22 May 1992, the city of Orlando had recently completed construction on a new City Hall. To save the cost of demolition fees, city officials solicited film production companies interested in demolishing the old City Hall building, and producer Joel Silver paid $50,000 for the film rights to blow up Orlando’s old City Hall for the opening sequence of Lethal Weapon 3. An item in the 11 Dec 1991 HR noted the city of Lancaster, CA, also wanted Lethal Weapon 3 filmmakers to destroy a fifty-four home development that was an unfinished “eye-sore.” The 22 May 1992 HR noted the tract was a “casualty” of the Savings and Loan scandal of the late 1980s. Since the developer was funded by banks that were involved in the scandal, and the project failed, Lancaster officials wanted the buildings demolished, and allowed the filmmakers to set fire to the homes for a key action sequence. Silver estimated the expense at approximately $100,000, and stated that the low cost of the FL and CA sequences helped keep the budget in line. The film was made for slightly less than $40 million.
       The 18 May 1992 LAT reported the film’s opening weekend box-office gross was an “enormous” $33.4 million. Barry Reardon, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution, admitted the company knew it had a successful picture to launch. However, they were concerned that audiences might be afraid to go to movie theaters after the recent Los Angeles Riots (29 Apr—4 May 1992). Reardon stated that Warner Bros. “never thought we would see numbers this big.” The 22 May 1992 HR estimated the first week gross through Thursday would be approximately $43 million.
       Silver acknowledged his desire to produce a fourth film in the series, and Lethal Weapon 4 (see entry) was released in 1998. According to HR articles on 2 Oct 2015 and 10 May 2016, Warner Bros. Television was rebooting the feature film as a television series to air on the Fox network in the fall of 2016.
       End credits include the following statement: “Special thanks to: Vista Group; The Los Angeles Kings; Southern California Rapid Transit District; The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission/Rail Construction Corporation; Los Angeles County Fire Department Paramedics; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; Los Angeles County Film Office; California State Film Commission; Governor Wilson of the State of California; City of Lancaster, California; City of Orlando, Florida; City of Clearwater, Florida; City of St. Petersburg, Florida.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
21 Jan 1991
p. 1, 42.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 1992
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
22 May 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 2015.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 2016.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Jul 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 May 1992
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
18 May 1992
Section F, p. 1, 12.
Los Angeles Times
31 May 1992.
---
New York Times
15 May 1992
p. 16.
Variety
11 May 1992.
---
Variety
18 May 1992
p. 43, 48.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. presents
A Silver Pictures production
A Richard Donner film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
"A" cam op
"A" 1st asst cam
"A" 2d asst cam
Steadicam op
"B" 1st asst cam
"B" 2d asst cam
Video assist
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
2d unit dir of photog
"A" cam op, 2d unit
"A" first cam asst, 2d unit
"A" cam 2d cam asst, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Post prod supv
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const foreman
Standby painter
Prop master, 2d unit
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Costumer to Mr. Gibson
Costumer to Mr. Glover
Woman's costumer
Costumer
VISUAL EFFECTS
SPFX supv
SPFX coord
SPFX foreman
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Structural implosion eff performed by
Title opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Key hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Researcher
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Prod secy
Asst prod secy
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Exec asst to Richard Donner
Asst to Richard Donner
Asst to Richard Donner
Asst to Joel Silver
Asst to Joel Silver
Asst to Jennie Lew Tugend
Asst to Jennie Lew Tugend
Asst to Steve Perry
Asst to Mel Gibson
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Unit pub
Craft service
Craft service
Caterer
24 frame video displays
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
Hockey tech adv
Tech adv
First aid
Casting assoc
Transportation coord
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver capt
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on characters created by Shane Black.
AUTHOR
SONGS
"It's Probably Me," music by Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton, lyrics by Sting, produced by Michael Kamen and Stephen McLaughlin performed by Sting with Eric Clapton, Sting appears courtesy of A&M Records
"Runaway Train," written by Elton John, Bernie Taupin and Olle Romo, performed by Elton John and Eric Clapton, Elton John appears courtesy of MCA Records and PhonoGram Ltd.
"It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday," written by Christine Yarian and Freddie Perren, performed by Boyz II Men, courtesy of Motown Record Co., L.P.
+
SONGS
"It's Probably Me," music by Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton, lyrics by Sting, produced by Michael Kamen and Stephen McLaughlin performed by Sting with Eric Clapton, Sting appears courtesy of A&M Records
"Runaway Train," written by Elton John, Bernie Taupin and Olle Romo, performed by Elton John and Eric Clapton, Elton John appears courtesy of MCA Records and PhonoGram Ltd.
"It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday," written by Christine Yarian and Freddie Perren, performed by Boyz II Men, courtesy of Motown Record Co., L.P.
"Latin Lingo," written by Lawrence Muggerud, Louis Freeze and Senen Reyes, performed by Cypress Hill, courtesy of Ruffhouse/Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"The Three Stooges Theme," arranged by Spud Murphy.
+
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
15 May 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 15 May 1992
Production Date:
began 2 October 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 May 1992
Copyright Number:
PA568254
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
115
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31813
SYNOPSIS

Los Angeles, California, police detective Roger Murtaugh is eight days away from early retirement when he and his partner, Martin Riggs, investigate a bomb scare. Doubting there is a bomb inside the evacuated building, Riggs convinces Murtaugh to join his search, and they find the explosive device. Riggs claims the bomb squad will not arrive in time, and cuts a wire to defuse the weapon. However, his action accelerates the timer, and the two detectives escape the building as it explodes. They are demoted to “beat” cops, and as they patrol, Riggs notices an armored car robbery in progress. As the vehicle speeds off, Riggs jumps into the back and fights a robber named Smitty. The actual armored car arrives at the bank, and Murtaugh asks the driver, Delores, to follow the other armored vehicle. During the chase, Smitty falls onto the street and escapes. As they speed through traffic, Riggs battles the driver, Billy Phelps, and knocks him through the windshield, rendering him unconscious. Later, Jack Travis, a real estate developer and gun smuggler, arrives at his Rancho Arroyo housing development in the desert and confronts Smitty, his ex-convict henchman. Furious that he and Billy Phelps used Jack’s weapons for their botched heist, Jack murders Smitty. Elsewhere, Leo Getz, a civilian who assisted the detectives in a prior case, is now working as a realtor, and trying to sell Murtaugh’s home. He arrives as Murtaugh leaves for work with Riggs, who futiley attempts to convince his partner not to sell his house and retire. Outside, Murtaugh sees his son, Nick, briefly talking to Darryl, a ... +


Los Angeles, California, police detective Roger Murtaugh is eight days away from early retirement when he and his partner, Martin Riggs, investigate a bomb scare. Doubting there is a bomb inside the evacuated building, Riggs convinces Murtaugh to join his search, and they find the explosive device. Riggs claims the bomb squad will not arrive in time, and cuts a wire to defuse the weapon. However, his action accelerates the timer, and the two detectives escape the building as it explodes. They are demoted to “beat” cops, and as they patrol, Riggs notices an armored car robbery in progress. As the vehicle speeds off, Riggs jumps into the back and fights a robber named Smitty. The actual armored car arrives at the bank, and Murtaugh asks the driver, Delores, to follow the other armored vehicle. During the chase, Smitty falls onto the street and escapes. As they speed through traffic, Riggs battles the driver, Billy Phelps, and knocks him through the windshield, rendering him unconscious. Later, Jack Travis, a real estate developer and gun smuggler, arrives at his Rancho Arroyo housing development in the desert and confronts Smitty, his ex-convict henchman. Furious that he and Billy Phelps used Jack’s weapons for their botched heist, Jack murders Smitty. Elsewhere, Leo Getz, a civilian who assisted the detectives in a prior case, is now working as a realtor, and trying to sell Murtaugh’s home. He arrives as Murtaugh leaves for work with Riggs, who futiley attempts to convince his partner not to sell his house and retire. Outside, Murtaugh sees his son, Nick, briefly talking to Darryl, a former friend who dropped out of high school and joined a gang. Later, Riggs and Murtaugh discover that the armored car robbers used armor-piercing bullets nicknamed “cop killers.” They plan to interrogate Billy Phelps, but are stopped by Lorna Cole, an Internal Affairs officer, who claims jurisdiction. Captain Murphy reluctantly acknowledges that Internal Affairs will handle the classified case. However, he also reinstates Riggs and Murtaugh as detectives. While they are in the captain’s office, Jack Travis sneaks into the interrogation room and shoots Billy Phelps. Upon finding the body, Riggs and Murtaugh examine video footage, but the killer knew where the cameras were located and kept his face hidden. Lorna reveals that Internal Affairs secretly placed cameras in the interrogation rooms, and as they watch footage of the killing, Captain Murphy identifies Jack Travis as a corrupt former police officer. Leo Getz arrives to speak with Murtaugh, and recognizes Jack’s photo, claiming he obtained hockey tickets for the obsessed fan. Leo goes with Riggs and Murtaugh to the hockey game and locates Jack. However, Jack shoots Leo in the arm and escapes. Later, as the detectives stop for lunch, they notice gang members in the midst of a drug deal and approach them. Gang members open fire with automatic weapons, and several escape in an automobile. When a gangster shoots at them from a nearby shed, Murtaugh fires back, killing the teenager. He is horrified to discover the dead shooter is his son’s friend, Darryl. Later, Murtaugh is too upset to face his son with the news, and retreats to his boat. At police headquarters, Lorna is upset that Riggs withheld information about Jack’s whereabouts, and he argues that she should have shared her “classified” information. Lorna reveals that Darryl’s automatic weapon and the guns retrieved from the armored car heist were among 15,000 weapons confiscated by police during crimes, and were scheduled for destruction six weeks earlier. However, they were stolen from a police storage facility, and Internal Affairs believed the theft was an inside job. Now, they realize the theft was engineered by Jack Travis. Lorna has information regarding a business that Billy Phelps telephoned several times, and Riggs joins her to investigate. They uncover a group of thugs loading weapons into a pickup truck. They confront the men, and Lorna reveals herself to be an accomplished martial artist. As the fight escalates, she and Riggs escape in the pickup with the guns. At Lorna’s home, she and Riggs compare their various scars and make love. Later, he joins a drunk Murtaugh on his boat. Murtaugh is anguished about shooting Darryl, but Riggs reminds his friend that the gang member shot first. Murtaugh returns home and talks with his son, who blames Darryl, not his father. Murtaugh, Riggs, and Lorna aggressively follow all leads to find Jack Travis, and discover that he employed several ex-convicts through his company, Mesa Verde Construction. Leo wants to help, and they task him with investigating Jack’s company. Meanwhile, Jack kidnaps Captain Murphy and forces the captain to take him to the secure storage facility beneath police headquarters. Lorna discovers that Jack accessed the police database to locate the confiscated ammunition. She, Riggs and Murtaugh lead officers to stop the theft, and in the ensuing gun battle, a rookie cop is killed. Furious, Riggs chases Jack and his men into adjacent subway tunnels where they escape with the ammunition. Riggs follows them up to the street, where he commandeers a motorcycle and gives chase. However, Jack and his men escape after forcing the motorcycle over a bridge at a construction site. The bike crashes and explodes, but Riggs survives the accident. Leo discovers that Mesa Verde is building the Rancho Arroyo development in a remote desert area. Murtaugh arms himself with Darryl’s automatic weapon, and he, Riggs, and Lorna arrive at the site as Jack’s men start unloading the stolen ammunition. During the ensuing gunfight, Riggs steals the truck loaded with ammunition, hooks a hose to the gas tank, and drives through the half-built neighborhood. Murtaugh ignites the trailing gas, which sets the buildings on fire. Riggs jumps from the truck as the ammunition explodes. Jack shoots Lorna with an armor-piercing round, however, she was wearing two bullet-proof vests and survives. Enraged, Riggs attacks Jack, and the two men battle. Murtaugh finds a box of armor-piercing bullets and loads Darryl’s gun. Jack knocks Riggs down, and drives toward him in a dump truck. Riggs shoots, but to no avail. Murtaugh tosses him Darryl's weapon, and the armor-piercing bullets shoot through the metal tractor and kill Jack. As Riggs helps Lorna into a medical helicopter, he admits that he loves her. On the day of his retirement, Murtaugh realizes that he does not want to retire early, and decides to stay another decade until forced into retirement. His wife agrees, and they take their house off the market. Later, Riggs and Murtaugh investigate another potential bomb threat. The device detonates as they arrive at the building, and the two detectives speed away from the explosion. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.