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HISTORY

       A 13 Mar 1984 LAHExam article reported that the idea for the film came to producer Brian Grazer as he drove along Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, CA, in 1977 and fantasized about meeting a mermaid and falling in love. A Mar 1984 Esquire article stated that Grazer, with development money from United Artists, hired Bruce Jay Friedman to write a script.
       According to a 17 Dec 1980 DV news item, Stan Dragoti had signed a deal to direct the film for the studio with a planned Spring 1981 start. Esquire reported that the project stalled and Grazer learned that producer Ray Stark was also developing a mermaid film. Grazer responded by hiring Alan Mandel to write a new draft. United Artists approved Mandel’s version, but Grazer did not, so he persuaded the studio to allow him to take Bruce Jay Friedman's script elsewhere. Meanwhile, Dragoti left the project and Grazer partnered with director Ron Howard, with whom he worked on Night Shift (1982, see entry). Grazer and Howard took Splash to the Ladd Company and hired Night Shift writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel to rewrite Friedman’s script. However, the Ladd Company's Alan Ladd, Jr. eventually passed on the film. In early 1983, agent Jeff Berg made a deal with Walt Disney Company subsidiary Touchstone Films to make the motion picture.
       A 20 Apr 1983 Var news item stated that Walt Disney Productions added Friedman’s name to the screenplay credits only after the writer’s agent, Ira Schwartz, supplied copies of the script written for United Artists. The Writers Guild of America ... More Less

       A 13 Mar 1984 LAHExam article reported that the idea for the film came to producer Brian Grazer as he drove along Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, CA, in 1977 and fantasized about meeting a mermaid and falling in love. A Mar 1984 Esquire article stated that Grazer, with development money from United Artists, hired Bruce Jay Friedman to write a script.
       According to a 17 Dec 1980 DV news item, Stan Dragoti had signed a deal to direct the film for the studio with a planned Spring 1981 start. Esquire reported that the project stalled and Grazer learned that producer Ray Stark was also developing a mermaid film. Grazer responded by hiring Alan Mandel to write a new draft. United Artists approved Mandel’s version, but Grazer did not, so he persuaded the studio to allow him to take Bruce Jay Friedman's script elsewhere. Meanwhile, Dragoti left the project and Grazer partnered with director Ron Howard, with whom he worked on Night Shift (1982, see entry). Grazer and Howard took Splash to the Ladd Company and hired Night Shift writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel to rewrite Friedman’s script. However, the Ladd Company's Alan Ladd, Jr. eventually passed on the film. In early 1983, agent Jeff Berg made a deal with Walt Disney Company subsidiary Touchstone Films to make the motion picture.
       A 20 Apr 1983 Var news item stated that Walt Disney Productions added Friedman’s name to the screenplay credits only after the writer’s agent, Ira Schwartz, supplied copies of the script written for United Artists. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) subsequently awarded Friedman co-writing credit with Ganz and Mandel as well as credit for the “screen story.”
       HR production charts on 29 Apr 1983 announced that principal photography began 12 Apr 1983. A 6 Apr 1983 Var brief outlined a production schedule that included a month in New York City, a month in Los Angeles, CA, and two weeks of underwater shooting in The Bahamas, with an $11 million budget.
       A Mar 1984 California article stated that actress Daryl Hannah, an experienced scuba diver, performed her own underwater scenes as the mermaid. The tail worn by Hannah weighed thirty-five pounds, and was fabricated from plexiglass and latex. For a scene in which Madison tears into a lobster at a restaurant, a shell stuffed with potatoes and hearts of palm was used because Hannah was a vegetarian.
       The 9 Mar 1984 LAT review called the film, “a warm, delicious romantic comedy.” Splash received an Academy Award nomination for Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen) as well as a WGA nomination for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
       On 7 Dec 1985, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Walt Disney World planned to build a water-park called Splash, after the movie, within two years. The park opened in 1989, but under the name Typhoon Lagoon.
       A sequel, Splash, Too, originally written as a theatrical feature according to a 29 May 1987 HR news item, aired as a made-for-television movie on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) network in 1988. Only Dody Goodman, as “Mrs. Stimler,” reprised her role from the first film.
      End credits include the following statements: “Sequence from Bonanza provided by National Telefilm Associates, Inc., Los Angeles, California, through the courtesy of NBC”; “Statue of Liberty, National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior”; and “Filmed on location in New York City; Los Angeles, California; Nassau, the Bahamas.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Apr 1984.
---
California
Mar 1984.
---
Daily Variety
17 Dec 1980.
---
Esquire
Mar 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 1984
p. 3, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 1987.
---
LA Weekly
9 Mar 1984.
---
LAHExam
9 Mar 1984.
Section D, p. 5.
LAHExam
13 Mar 1984.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Mar 1984
p. 1, 12.
Motion Picture Production Digest
28 Mar 1984.
---
New York
12 Mar 1984
pp. 90-91.
New York Times
9 Mar 1984
p. 15.
Orlando Sentinel
7 Dec 1985.
---
Time
19 Mar 1984.
---
Variety
6 Apr 1983.
---
Variety
20 Apr 1983.
---
Variety
29 Feb 1984
p. 14.
Village Voice
13 Mar 1984
pp. 4-5.
WSJ
15 Mar 1984.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-starring:
Co-starring:
Wedding guests:
[and]
Reporters:
[and]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Brian Grazer production
A Ron Howard film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Scr story
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Chief lighting tech
Cam op, Los Angeles unit
Still photog, Los Angeles unit
Key grip, Los Angeles unit
Cam op, New York unit
Panaglide op, New York unit
Still photog, New York unit
Key grip, New York unit
Chief lighting tech, New York unit
Underwater dir of photog, Bahamas unit
Underwater still photog, Bahamas unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir, Los Angeles unit
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec, Los Angeles unit
Set dec, New York unit
Prop master, New York unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Men's cost, Los Angeles unit
Men's cost, New York unit
MUSIC
Supv mus ed
Addl orch
Mus coord
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Sd supv
Supv sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv, Los Angeles unit
Spec mechanical eff, Los Angeles unit
Spec visual eff supv
Mermaid des and const
Spec photog eff supv
Title des
Title des
DANCE
Swimming choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Hairstylist, Los Angeles unit
Hairstylist, New York unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Unit pub
Asst to Mr. Grazer
Asst to Mr. Howard
Transportation coord
Prod coord
Scr supv, Los Angeles unit
Nautical coord, Los Angeles unit
Loc mgr, Los Angeles unit
Scr supv, New York unit
Prod coord, New York unit
Prod coord, New York unit
Loc mgr, New York unit
New York casting
New York extra casting
New York prod services provided by
Prod supv
Prod supv
Nautical coord, Bahamas unit
Nautical coord, Bahamas unit
Loc mgr, Bahamas unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord, Los Angeles unit
Stunt coord, New York unit
Stunt coord, New York unit
Stunt coord, Bahamas unit
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Love Came For Me," performed by Rita Coolidge, lyric, Will Jennings, music, Lee Holdridge, courtesy of A & M Records.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 March 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 March 1984
Production Date:
12 April--June 1983 in New York City
Los Angeles, CA
and Nassau, The Bahamas
Copyright Claimant:
Buena Vista Distribution Company, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 March 1984
Copyright Number:
PA201728
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
109
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27217
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, eight-year-old Allen Bauer jumps from the deck of a tour boat after spotting something in the water. While submerged, he sees a mermaid about his age. They hold hands, but a rescuer pulls Allen away. Twenty years later in New York City, an adult Allen manages his family’s produce business with his shiftless older brother, Freddie Bauer. At the office, Allen gets a telephone call from his girl friend, Victoria, informing him that she is moving out of their apartment. The following day, at the wedding of the Bauers’ employee, Jerry, Allen laments that Victoria left because he did not love her. After the ceremony, Allen becomes intoxicated, decides he is going to die alone, and impulsively takes a taxicab to Cape Cod. The following morning, on the beach, a scientist named Walter Kornbluth and two assistants unpack research equipment. When Allen asks for a ride to an island, Kornbluth accuses him of being a spy. Later, a man named Fat Jack takes Allen to the island in a small boat. Allen confides that he cannot swim, and Fat Jack rocks the boat to scare him, inadvertently killing the engine. After Fat Jack swims to get another boat, Allen tries to restart the engine, but falls into the water and is knocked unconscious. As he sinks, he loses his wallet, and a pair of arms reach out for him. Later, he awakens on the beach and sees a beautiful naked woman who kisses him passionately then dives into the ocean and disappears. Unseen by Allen, the woman transforms into a mermaid and finds his wallet. She startles Kornbluth, who is diving nearby, ... +


Off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, eight-year-old Allen Bauer jumps from the deck of a tour boat after spotting something in the water. While submerged, he sees a mermaid about his age. They hold hands, but a rescuer pulls Allen away. Twenty years later in New York City, an adult Allen manages his family’s produce business with his shiftless older brother, Freddie Bauer. At the office, Allen gets a telephone call from his girl friend, Victoria, informing him that she is moving out of their apartment. The following day, at the wedding of the Bauers’ employee, Jerry, Allen laments that Victoria left because he did not love her. After the ceremony, Allen becomes intoxicated, decides he is going to die alone, and impulsively takes a taxicab to Cape Cod. The following morning, on the beach, a scientist named Walter Kornbluth and two assistants unpack research equipment. When Allen asks for a ride to an island, Kornbluth accuses him of being a spy. Later, a man named Fat Jack takes Allen to the island in a small boat. Allen confides that he cannot swim, and Fat Jack rocks the boat to scare him, inadvertently killing the engine. After Fat Jack swims to get another boat, Allen tries to restart the engine, but falls into the water and is knocked unconscious. As he sinks, he loses his wallet, and a pair of arms reach out for him. Later, he awakens on the beach and sees a beautiful naked woman who kisses him passionately then dives into the ocean and disappears. Unseen by Allen, the woman transforms into a mermaid and finds his wallet. She startles Kornbluth, who is diving nearby, and he drops his camera before he can photograph her. The mermaid swims to a sunken ship and, using the address from Allen’s driver’s license, locates New York City on a map. Later, the mermaid takes human form and causes a commotion at the Statue of Liberty. Wearing only a necklace and unable to speak English, police take her into custody and telephone Allen, who picks her up and takes her home. Arriving at his apartment building, they make love in the elevator. In the afternoon, Allen returns to work and leaves the mermaid with the television for company. Borrowing one of Allen’s suits and armed with a single word of English, “Bloomingdale’s,” the mermaid heads outside and the doorman, Timmy, puts her in a taxicab to the department store. There she uses Allen’s credit card to go on a shopping spree, and spends six hours watching television in the appliance department. Tipped off by Timmy, Allen goes to Bloomingdale’s and is surprised that the mermaid has apparently learned to speak English in one day. She attempts to tell Allen her name in her native language and the high-pitched screech she emits shatters all the television screens in the store. Allen tells her he needs a name he can pronounce, and she chooses “Madison” after the New York City avenue. Madison reveals that she can only remain in the city for six days, and Allen assumes she has an immigration problem. That night, while Allen sleeps, Madison sneaks into the bathroom, takes a saltwater bath, and her legs transform into a tail. Allen awakens and surprises her, so she hurriedly dries her body behind the locked door. When he breaks through, her legs have returned, and she claims that she did not let him in because she was shy. Meanwhile, the scientist, Kornbluth, searches Cape Cod in vain for the mermaid, until he spots Madison’s appearance at the Statue of Liberty on the cover of a tabloid newspaper. Back in New York City, Allen shows Madison a mermaid-themed fountain and she asks if he likes it. He says that he does and it reminds him of a childhood accident, but stops short of revealing that he saw a mermaid. Sadly, he tells her, the fountain is being removed to make way for condominiums. The following day, Allen tells Freddie that he wants to take Madison to a dinner where the President of the United States of America will speak, and Freddie accuses him of being in love. At the Museum of Natural History, Kornbluth is humiliated when he attempts to present his research on mermaids to his peers, led by Dr. Ross. Allen returns home and finds that Madison had the mermaid fountain installed in his living room. She tells him that she traded her necklace for the fountain because she loves him. Elsewhere, Kornbluth’s mentor, Dr. Zidell, tries to reason with him, but Kornbluth insists there is a mermaid in New York City and he plans to prove it. Kornbluth locates Allen and Madison out walking and follows them with two buckets of water. He throws the water at the wrong woman, and her companion beats him. Meanwhile, Allen and Madison have a romantic dinner and ice skate, and Allen suggests they could solve her immigration problem if they got married. When she responds that she cannot marry him, but will not reveal why, Allen treats her coldly, and she runs off. A rainstorm strikes and Allen searches for Madison as she hides under a bridge. In the morning, Madison finds Allen at the produce company, and agrees to marry him. Kornbluth, with a broken arm and wearing a neck brace, impersonates a maintenance worker, and attempts to ambush Madison and Allen, but accidentally soaks the same couple he clashed with earlier, and is thrown down a flight of stairs. Later, Kornbluth infiltrates the dinner for the president dressed as a waiter, but is apprehended by the Secret Service. As he is escorted outside, Kornbluth manages to wet Madison with a hose and her legs turn into a tail, exposing her secret. Authorities whisk her and Allen to a research facility supervised by Dr. Ross. Allen is placed in a tank of water for twelve hours and studied before being released. When Allen feels sorry for himself, Freddie chastises him that most people never experience the happiness Allen felt for a short time. At the research facility, Kornbluth notices Madison’s fading health and challenges Ross’s treatment of her. Allen confronts Kornbluth, who admits he did not consider the consequences of his actions but offers to get Allen in to see Madison. Dressed in lab coats and impersonating Swedish scientists, Allen and Freddie join Kornbluth and gain access to the facility. Allen and Kornbluth smuggle Madison out in Allen’s car and take her to the river as Freddie remains in the laboratory. When the authorities realize Madison is missing, the military is ordered to pursue them. Kornbluth acts as a diversion as Allen and Madison reach the docks. The military bears down on them, and Madison reminds Allen of the time he fell in the water twenty years earlier and says that he felt safe because he was with her. Allen wants to join her, but she warns him that he will never be able to return to his world. Brokenhearted, he says goodbye, and Madison dives into the river. As military frogmen drop into the water from helicopters, Allen changes his mind and leaps into the river. They fight off the divers and swim to Madison’s home at the bottom of the ocean. +

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

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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.