Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

R | 114 mins | Comedy | 7 July 1989

Director:

Richard Donner

Cinematographer:

Stephen Goldblatt

Editor:

Stuart Baird

Production Designer:

J. Michael Riva

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

       A 31 Jan 1989 HR brief announced that Shawn Michaels was cast in the film, but the actor receives no onscreen credit.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Richard Donner re-teamed with Joel Silver to produce, but not direct, a sequel to Lethal Weapon. However, Donner decided to direct after reading a draft of the script written by Jeffrey Boam, who replaced Shane Black after Black’s script was deemed “too grim” by Warner Bros., as noted in the 1 Jan 1989 LAT. In Black’s version, “Martin Riggs” was killed in a “climactic battle” with his arch-nemesis. Boam, who contributed some scenes to the original Lethal Weapon was brought on the project after Black left amicably, and Black later commented that Boam’s script was “pretty terrific.”
       Danny Glover and Mel Gibson only agreed to reprise their roles after Donner was confirmed as director, as stated in production notes. The production budget was cited as $28 million by a 2 Jul 1989 Toronto Star article.
       Principal photography was initially slated to begin the first week of Nov 1988, as stated in a 26 Sep 1988 DV brief. However, a 21 Nov 1988 DV item reported that filming would begin that week, with an as-yet unfinished script. One month later, a 20 Dec 1988 HR production chart stated that filming started 7 Dec 1988 in Los Angeles, CA. Locations included a house on stilts located on Mulholland Drive, designed by architect John Lautner, which was seen to collapse in the film. To create the effect, two full-size duplicates of the Lautner ... More Less

       A 31 Jan 1989 HR brief announced that Shawn Michaels was cast in the film, but the actor receives no onscreen credit.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Richard Donner re-teamed with Joel Silver to produce, but not direct, a sequel to Lethal Weapon. However, Donner decided to direct after reading a draft of the script written by Jeffrey Boam, who replaced Shane Black after Black’s script was deemed “too grim” by Warner Bros., as noted in the 1 Jan 1989 LAT. In Black’s version, “Martin Riggs” was killed in a “climactic battle” with his arch-nemesis. Boam, who contributed some scenes to the original Lethal Weapon was brought on the project after Black left amicably, and Black later commented that Boam’s script was “pretty terrific.”
       Danny Glover and Mel Gibson only agreed to reprise their roles after Donner was confirmed as director, as stated in production notes. The production budget was cited as $28 million by a 2 Jul 1989 Toronto Star article.
       Principal photography was initially slated to begin the first week of Nov 1988, as stated in a 26 Sep 1988 DV brief. However, a 21 Nov 1988 DV item reported that filming would begin that week, with an as-yet unfinished script. One month later, a 20 Dec 1988 HR production chart stated that filming started 7 Dec 1988 in Los Angeles, CA. Locations included a house on stilts located on Mulholland Drive, designed by architect John Lautner, which was seen to collapse in the film. To create the effect, two full-size duplicates of the Lautner house were built: one on a hydraulics system on Stage 1 at the Burbank Studios, and another in Newhall, CA, where the actual collapse took place.
       A 13 Jul 1989 HR “Hollywood Report” column noted that the film was supervised by the Humane Society and rubber fish were used for the scene in which a fish tank is shot.
       The film includes an original, full-length television advertisement for Ramses condoms, starring the character “Rianne Murtaugh.” A 31 Jul 1989 Newsweek item stated that Warner Bros. negotiated a “placement deal with Schmid Laboratories, the maker of Ramses,” for the commercial. As a promotional tie-in, roughly 15,000 Ramses condoms in packets printed with the Lethal Weapon 2 logo were distributed in nightclubs across the U.S. In another promotion, Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Magic Johnson appeared in a thirty-second television advertisement for the film, which featured the tagline, “The magic is back,” followed by Magic Johnson’s line, “And their magic is lethal.” A 15 Jun 1989 DV news brief noted the rarity of a professional athlete promoting a film without any prior involvement, but Warner Bros. advertising and publicity president, Robert G. Friedman, could not confirm whether such an appearance was unprecedented.
       A sneak preview took place 21 May 1989, according to a 24 May 1989 HR “Hollywood Report” column. The film played at Pacific’s Lakewood Center theater in Long Beach, CA, and of the 800 moviegoers, ninety-three percent said they would recommend it. The theatrical release was moved up one week to 7 Jul 1989, on approximately 2,000 screens.
       The picture was a critical and box-office success, taking in $20.4 million in its opening weekend, according to the 13 Jul 1989 HR and a 13 Jul 1998 HR item, which noted that Lethal Weapon 2 ultimately grossed $147.3 million domestically and $249.8 worldwide. Robert Henderson and Alan Robert Murray received an Academy Award nomination for Sound Effects Editing.
       As of Nov 2014, two subsequent sequels have been produced: 1992’s Lethal Weapon 3 and 1998’s Lethal Weapon 4 (see entries).

      End credits contain the following statements: “Tape excerpt from Wheel of Fortune © Califon Productions Inc.”; “Contains excerpts from a motion picture titled (The Three Stooges) Three Missing Links held under copyright and licensed by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.”; “Special thanks to Vista Group, L.A.P.D. Bomb Squad, L.A. County Sheriffs Dept., Los Angeles Police Department”; and, “We miss you, Jay Engel.” Engel, who died in Mar 1989, served as the supervising ADR editor on both Lethal Weapon (1987, see entry) and Lethal Weapon 2.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Sep 1988.
---
Daily Variety
21 Nov 1988.
---
Daily Variety
15 Jun 1989.
---
Daily Variety
3 Jul 1989
p. 2, 5.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 1989
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 1989
p. 4, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1998.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Jan 1989
Calendar, p. 24.
Los Angeles Times
1 Jul 1989
Calendar, p. 24.
Los Angeles Times
7 Jul 1989
p. 1.
New York Times
7 Jul 1989
p. 18.
Newsweek
31 Jul 1989.
---
Toronto Star
2 Jul 1989
Section C, p. 1.
Variety
5 Jul 1989
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
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 unit dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Panaglide op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Video assist
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Grip best boy
Underwater photog
Still photog
24 frame video displays
2d unit aerial photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept research asst
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Lead person
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Standby painter
Standby painter
Stilt house consultants
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom person
Cable person
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Supv ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff 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
End titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Rianne's beach commercial
Weapons specialist
Scr supv
Scr supv
S. African dialect coach
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Tech adv
Secy to Richard Donner
Asst to Richard Donner
Asst to Jennie Lew Tugend
Asst to Joel Silver
Asst to Joel Silver
Asst to Joel Silver
Asst to Mel Gibson
Prod secy
Asst prod secy
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod office asst
Prod office asst
Prod office asst
Prod office asst
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Animals provided by
Craft service
2d unit helicopter pilot
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on characters created by Shane Black.
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Cheer Down," performed by George Harrison, produced by George Harrison and Jeff Lynne, courtesy of Dark Horse Records, music by George Harrison, lyrics by George Harrison and Tom Petty
"Still Cruisin' (After All These Years)," performed by The Beach Boys, produced by Terry Melcher, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., written by Mike Love and Terry Melcher
"Since I Don't Have You," performed by The Skyliners, courtesy of Original Sound Record Co., Inc., written by Joseph Rock, James Beaumont and The Skyliners
+
SONGS
"Cheer Down," performed by George Harrison, produced by George Harrison and Jeff Lynne, courtesy of Dark Horse Records, music by George Harrison, lyrics by George Harrison and Tom Petty
"Still Cruisin' (After All These Years)," performed by The Beach Boys, produced by Terry Melcher, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., written by Mike Love and Terry Melcher
"Since I Don't Have You," performed by The Skyliners, courtesy of Original Sound Record Co., Inc., written by Joseph Rock, James Beaumont and The Skyliners
"This I Swear," performed by The Skyliners, courtesy of Original Sound Record Co., Inc., written by Joseph Rock, James Beaumont and The Skyliners
"Lonely Way," performed by The Skyliners, courtesy of Original Sound Record Co., Inc., written by Joseph Rock, James Beaumont and The Skyliners
"How Much," performed by The Skyliners, courtesy of Original Sound Record Co., Inc., written by Joseph Rock, James Beaumont and The Skyliners
"I'm Not Scared," performed by Eighth Wonder, courtesy of WTG/CBS Records, Music Licensing Department, written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe
"Believe Me," performed by The Skyliners, courtesy of Original Sound Record Co., Inc., written by Richard Barrett
"Knockin' On Heaven's Door," written by Bob Dylan.
+
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
7 July 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 7 July 1989
Production Date:
began 7 December 1988
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 July 1989
Copyright Number:
PA417701
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
114
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29848
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Police detectives Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs speed through the streets of Los Angeles, California, in pursuit of suspected drug smugglers. Roger drives cautiously in his wife’s new station wagon, but Martin urges him to go faster, and the car is severely battered as a result. When their targets crash through a storefront and disappear, Roger and Martin find one million dollars in gold Krugerrands, a South African currency, in the trunk of the wrecked car. At the police station, Captain Murphy reprimands Roger for failing to make an arrest and downplaying the operation as a “routine drug bust.” Later, to the amusement of his fellow police officers, Martin escapes from a straitjacket by dislocating his shoulder, which he can do on command after a past injury. The police psychiatrist reminds Martin that her door is always open, but he shrugs off her suggestion that he needs therapy. Roger reveals that his daughter Rianne’s new television commercial debuts that night, and Martin relays the news to their fellow officers. Later, Martin joins the Murtaughs for a viewing of the commercial, which turns out, to Roger’s dismay, to be an advertisement for condoms. Meanwhile, Hans, one of the men Martin and Roger were pursuing, reports to his South African crime boss, Arjen Rudd. Angry that his money was lost, Arjen orders Pieter Vorstedt, one of his henchmen, to shoot Hans. Back at the Murtaugh’s, Roger’s wife, Trish, returns a gold pen to Martin, prompting him to explain its significance. He recalls finding it on the floor on the night his wife, Vicky, was killed in a car accident. Martin blames himself for her death because he forgot about their date ... +


Police detectives Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs speed through the streets of Los Angeles, California, in pursuit of suspected drug smugglers. Roger drives cautiously in his wife’s new station wagon, but Martin urges him to go faster, and the car is severely battered as a result. When their targets crash through a storefront and disappear, Roger and Martin find one million dollars in gold Krugerrands, a South African currency, in the trunk of the wrecked car. At the police station, Captain Murphy reprimands Roger for failing to make an arrest and downplaying the operation as a “routine drug bust.” Later, to the amusement of his fellow police officers, Martin escapes from a straitjacket by dislocating his shoulder, which he can do on command after a past injury. The police psychiatrist reminds Martin that her door is always open, but he shrugs off her suggestion that he needs therapy. Roger reveals that his daughter Rianne’s new television commercial debuts that night, and Martin relays the news to their fellow officers. Later, Martin joins the Murtaughs for a viewing of the commercial, which turns out, to Roger’s dismay, to be an advertisement for condoms. Meanwhile, Hans, one of the men Martin and Roger were pursuing, reports to his South African crime boss, Arjen Rudd. Angry that his money was lost, Arjen orders Pieter Vorstedt, one of his henchmen, to shoot Hans. Back at the Murtaugh’s, Roger’s wife, Trish, returns a gold pen to Martin, prompting him to explain its significance. He recalls finding it on the floor on the night his wife, Vicky, was killed in a car accident. Martin blames himself for her death because he forgot about their date that night, leaving her to drive home alone. Martin returns home to his beachside trailer, while Arjen Rudd’s thugs break into Roger’s house and threaten him to back off of their organization. The next day, Roger sends his wife and children to stay at his sister-in-law’s house and returns to work. Capt. Murphy assigns Roger and Martin to “babysit” Leo Getz, a witness in a high-profile drug case who requires protective custody. Martin and Roger complain about the assignment but comply. At a high-end hotel, they meet Getz, a garrulous accountant who laundered a half billion dollars for a crime syndicate. Getz says he stole from the syndicate and turned himself in after they discovered his treachery. An assassin disguised as a room service attendant arrives to kill Getz, but does not succeed and runs away. Intrigued by Getz’s criminal ties, Martin and Roger discover that Getz never dealt with the organization directly except for an interview that took place in a house on stilts. They lead Getz on a search for the house, and when they find it, Martin disguises himself as a pool cleaner only to discover that the house has no pool. He is attacked by three thugs, among whom is the room service assassin, but Roger helps fend them off and the partners escape. The room service assassin steals a tow truck parked on the street, and Martin jumps on the car being towed. Roger and Getz follow. Martin crawls to the cab of the tow truck, causing the room service assassin to crash and be killed. Roger and Martin return to the house on stilts with police backup. There, Arjen Rudd greets them with his entourage and identifies himself as the Minister of Diplomatic Affairs for the South African Consulate. Reminding the officers that he cannot be arrested under the Diplomatic Relations Act, Rudd urges the police to leave. On their way out, Martin flirts with Rika Van Den Haas, Rudd’s secretary. Back at the station, Capt. Murphy forbids Roger and Martin from pursuing Rudd, despite their newfound knowledge that he is connected to Getz’s crime syndicate, because he is “beyond the law.” Meanwhile, Rudd arranges to move his cash out of the country in one large shipment. One day, Roger does not show up for work and Martin finds him at home, sitting on the toilet. Roger says he has been there all night since discovering a message on the toilet paper that reads, “Boom, you’re dead!” Martin confirms that a bomb has been rigged to the commode and calls in the bomb squad. As everyone else evacuates, Martin agrees to stay with Roger, who must jump from the toilet and into the bathtub with a bomb blanket to avoid certain death as the bomb detonates. The partners survive the blast. Afterward, Roger and Getz stage a distraction at the South African embassy so that Riggs can sneak into Rudd’s office. After stealing a slip of paper, Riggs warns Rudd to leave the U.S. and shoots a large fish tank in the wall. Reuniting with Roger and Getz, Martin says the slip of paper he stole contains the note, “Alba Varden, Thursday.” Roger says the name Alba Varden is familiar but he is not sure why. Later, Martin follow’s Rudd’s secretary, Rika Van Den Haas, to the grocery store and insists she go on a date with him. At his trailer, Rika admits she does not like her boss but wants to keep her job so she can stay in Los Angeles. Elsewhere, several officers from Roger and Martin’s police squad are assassinated by Rudd’s men, while Roger watches a home video filmed on his boat and spots a ship named Alba Varden in the background. As Rika and Martin make love in his trailer, a descending helicopter interrupts. Rudd’s thugs fire machine guns at the trailer. Escaping through a dog door, Martin fires back at the helicopter, which crashes as Martin and Rika drive away. Rika invites Martin to stay at her apartment, but he declines. Returning to his car, he is kidnapped by Pieter Vorstedt, who recalls the first time he tried to kill Martin years ago, when he was working as a narcotics detective and came too close to discovering Rudd’s operation. Instead of killing Martin, however, Pieter reveals it was he who killed Martin’s wife in a car accident. The infuriated Martin is led to a dock and pushed into the ocean, bound in a sack. Using his escape artist skills, he breaks free and swims to the surface, finding Rika’s drowned body on the way up. Devastated, Martin calls Roger from his truck and announces plans to retaliate. Roger begs him not to go, but agrees to accompany his distraught partner. Approaching Rudd’s house on stilts, Roger warns Martin to be careful and informs him that Rudd’s men have kidnapped Getz. While Pieter interrogates Getz inside, Martin drives his truck to the bottom of the hill, ties the vehicle to the house stilts with rope, and drives away, pulling the stilts with him. At the same time, Roger breaks into the house, shoots several of Rudd’s henchmen, and saves Getz before the house collapses. Martin and Roger return to the dock to find the Alba Varden. They discover a container aboard the ship filled with millions of dollars in cash and a sports car. Rudd traps them inside, but Roger and Martin escape by driving the car through the side of the container and into the ocean, causing the drug money to scatter in the wind. The men split up as Rudd’s thugs pursue. In a fight, Martin overpowers Pieter and stabs him to death, but Rudd retaliates by shooting Martin. Despite his claims of diplomatic immunity, Roger shoots Rudd and goes to help the wounded Martin, whom he believes to be dying. Martin surprises Roger by cracking a joke and pretending to flirt with him, and the men laugh as sirens approach. +

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

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