Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

PG-13 | 143 mins | Adventure | 14 June 1991

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HISTORY


       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, screenwriter Pen Densham outlined the story for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in a ninety-two page treatment, blending the twelfth-century Robin Hood legend with new events. From there, Densham paired with his writing partner, John Watson, to develop the script. Original elements added by Densham and Watson included “Robin of Locksley’s” involvement in the Crusades against his father’s wishes and the murder of his father by the “Sheriff of Nottingham.”
       As reported in a 30 Mar 1990 LA Weekly item, Morgan Creek’s David Nicksay purchased the screenplay in a bidding war for $1.2 million, prompting a backlash from Joe Roth, chairman of Twentieth Century Fox and Nicksay’s predecessor at Morgan Creek, who was developing another Robin Hood project, Mark Allen Smith’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, for John McTiernan to direct. A 26 Jul 1990 LAT article quoted Roth as saying Morgan Creek acted “unjustly, if not immorally” since the company knew about Fox’s existing project before acquiring Densham and Watson’s script. Yet another competing Robin Hood film was in development at the same time at Tri-Star Pictures, with Susan Shilliday scripting and her husband, Marshall Herskovitz, set to direct with Edward Zwick, as noted in a 23 Jul 1990 DV article. A race between the three projects ensued, with Tri-Star announcing a 3 Sep 1990 start date and Fox planning for a 22 Oct 1990 start. However, those projects began to unravel by late Jul 1990 when Kevin Costner signed on to star in Morgan Creek’s film. The actor, who had considered Fox’s project according to DV, ... More Less


       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, screenwriter Pen Densham outlined the story for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in a ninety-two page treatment, blending the twelfth-century Robin Hood legend with new events. From there, Densham paired with his writing partner, John Watson, to develop the script. Original elements added by Densham and Watson included “Robin of Locksley’s” involvement in the Crusades against his father’s wishes and the murder of his father by the “Sheriff of Nottingham.”
       As reported in a 30 Mar 1990 LA Weekly item, Morgan Creek’s David Nicksay purchased the screenplay in a bidding war for $1.2 million, prompting a backlash from Joe Roth, chairman of Twentieth Century Fox and Nicksay’s predecessor at Morgan Creek, who was developing another Robin Hood project, Mark Allen Smith’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, for John McTiernan to direct. A 26 Jul 1990 LAT article quoted Roth as saying Morgan Creek acted “unjustly, if not immorally” since the company knew about Fox’s existing project before acquiring Densham and Watson’s script. Yet another competing Robin Hood film was in development at the same time at Tri-Star Pictures, with Susan Shilliday scripting and her husband, Marshall Herskovitz, set to direct with Edward Zwick, as noted in a 23 Jul 1990 DV article. A race between the three projects ensued, with Tri-Star announcing a 3 Sep 1990 start date and Fox planning for a 22 Oct 1990 start. However, those projects began to unravel by late Jul 1990 when Kevin Costner signed on to star in Morgan Creek’s film. The actor, who had considered Fox’s project according to DV, was reportedly paid $7.5 million, a considerable portion of the film’s $40 million budget, in addition to gross profit participation. Director Kevin Reynolds, who had worked with Costner on 1985’s Fandango, was paid “under $2 million.”
       As stated in production notes, Costner prefaced his involvement in the film by refusing to wear green tights, the costume widely associated with Robin Hood since Errol Flynn’s portrayal of the character in Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, see entry). He was also determined to perform many of his own stunts, and trained extensively with stunt coordinator Paul Weston and trainer Terry Walsh, learning to use broadswords, a bow and arrow, and heavy quarterstaffs on the tennis courts at his home. Both Costner and Morgan Freeman, who played “Azeem,” utilized their equestrian skills on the physically demanding shoot, sometimes spending entire days on horseback.
       Principal photography began 6 Sep 1990, three days later than initially scheduled, as noted in 17 Sep 1990 Var production charts. Filming took place in England, where locations included: the Hulne Priory in Alnwick, a religious structure built in the Middle Ages, which stood in for the home of “Marian”; the New Forest, a royal hunting preserve; and Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire, which doubled as Robin’s “principal camp site” and the setting for his battle with the Sheriff of Nottingham’s mercenary Celts. Sets for the medieval town of Nottingham were built at Shepperton Studios, where fabrics were hung from city walls to represent Nottingham’s cloth industry. Also at Shepperton, the Sheriff’s castle was constructed, with paving stones left over from Franco Zeffirelli’s recent production of Hamlet (1990, see entry). Outside of England, filmmakers shot for several days in Carcassonne, France, an 800-year-old walled city, which stood in for Nottingham’s exterior.
       Filming ended early Jan 1991, as stated in a 19 Feb 1991 DV article, which also mentioned rumors that the budget had ballooned to $60 million. Executive producer James G. Robinson denied the rumors, stating that the production would ultimately come in at $48 million, with an additional $20 million, or more, spent on marketing. Having invested a rumored $14.5 million into the budget, domestic distributor Warner Bros. Pictures shared “mutual approval of all marketing and promotion decisions” with Morgan Creek, which retained licensing rights for foreign territories and ownership of the film’s negative.
       Critical reception was poor. The 17 Jun 1991 Var and 14 Jun 1991 NYT reviews cited Costner’s performance and shoddy production values as crucial flaws, with Var noting that the film bore “evidence of the rushed and unpleasant production circumstances” brought on by competing projects. Costner, whose English accent was widely criticized, reportedly defended himself to interviewers by explaining that he was deprived of vocal coaches and did not have enough time to work on the accent, as noted in Var.
       The original song written by composer Michael Kamen, Robert John Lange, and Bryan Adams, “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” received a Grammy award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Music (Original Song), and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song – Motion Picture. Michael Kamen also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score – Motion Picture.
      Opening credits include the following written prologue: “800 years ago, Richard ‘The Lionheart,’ King of England, led the third Great Crusade to reclaim the Holy Land from the Turks. Most of the young English noblemen who flocked to his banner never returned home.” In end credits, producers thank: Lee International Studios, Shepperton, England; His Grace, the Duke of Northumberland and his representative, John Evans-Freke; The English Heritage, The Forestry Commission, The National Trust & The Yorkshire Dales National Park; Corporation of London for Burnham Beeches; the municipality and inhabitants of the walled city of Carcassonne, Lord Mayor – Mr. Raymond Chesa, and Mr. Pierre Mistral; Chemical Bank; Credit Lyonnais Bank Nederland; Signet Bank. End credits also contain the dedictation: “In Fond Memory of Egil Woxholt,” who was the film's second unit lighting cameraman.

              Both opening and end credits misspell actor Michael McShane as "Micheal McShane." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Jul 1990
p. 1, 11.
Daily Variety
19 Feb 1991
p. 1, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 1991
p. 6, 14.
LA Weekly
30 Mar 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1990
Calendar, p. 1, 8-10.
Los Angeles Times
14 Jun 1991
p. 1.
New York Times
14 Jun 1991
p. 1.
Variety
17 Sep 1990.
---
Variety
17 Jun 1991
p. 65.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Presents
A James G. Robinson presentation
A Morgan Creek Production
A Kevin Reynolds film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
2d unit action seq dir
Prod mgr-Carcassonne
1st asst dir
1st asst dir, 2d unit
Key 2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
3d asst dir
3d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Lighting cam, 2d unit
Aerial photog
Aerial Camera Systems
Cam op
Cam op, 2d unit
Steadicam op
Video cam op
Asst video op
Focus asst
Focus asst
Focus asst, 2d unit
Loader
Loader
Loader, 2d unit
Loader, 2d unit
Key grip
Grip, 2d unit
Gaffer, 2d unit
Chief lighting tech
2d elec
Elec
Elec
Elec, 2d unit
Stills photog
Cam equip supplied by
Cam equip supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Decor artist
Storyboard artist
Modeller
Asst modeller
FILM EDITORS
Ed-Addl seq
Ed-Addl seq
Ed-Addl seq
Ed-Addl seq
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prod buyer
Prop master
Standby props
Standby props
Standby props
Standby props
Standby props, 2d unit
Propmaker
Prop storeman/Dresser
Draftperson
Draftperson
Draftperson
Draftperson
Const coord
Asst const mgr
Head plasterer
Supervising stagehand
Supervising stagehand
Stagehand, 2d unit
Supervising rigger
Supervising rigger
Supervising rigger
Supervising rigger
Rigger, 2d unit
Supervising carpenter
Supervising carpenter
Supervising carpenter
Supervising carpenter
Supervising carpenter
Carpenter, 2d unit
Wood machinist
Head painter
Standby carpenter
Standby plasterer
Standby painter
Standby stagehand
Standby rigger
Drapes master
Drapes
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Cost des mgr
Ward supv
Ward mistress
Ward standby
Ward standby
Ward standby
Milliner
Ward painter
Cost made and supplied by
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus ed
Mus mixed in Q Sound by
Orch rec by
Orch contractor
Mus consultant
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer, 2d unit
Sd mixer, 2d unit
Boom op
Boom op, 2d unit
Supv sd ed
Eff ed
Eff ed
Eff ed
Eff ed
Eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
ADR supv
ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Key asst sd ed
Key asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR rec
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Sr spec eff
Tech
Spec eff eng
Spec eff fireman
Titles & opticals by
Main title des
Opening matte painting eff prod
MAKEUP
Supv makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist, 2d unit
Supv hairdresser
Mr. Costner's hairdresser
Hairdresser
Hairdresser, 2d unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting, United States
Casting, England
Project consultant
Scr supv
Scr supv, 2d unit
Swordmaster
Horsemaster
Asst horsemaster
Horses supplied by
Horses supplied by
Fitness coach
Archery coach
Prod coord
Prod coord, 2d unit
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Post prod supv
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Prods' assoc
Asst to Mr. Robinson
Asst to Mr. Barber
Asst to Mr. Nicksay
Morgan Creek admin
Asst to Mr. Reynolds
Asst to Mr. Costner
Prods' asst
Prods' asst
Prod office secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Spec pub consultant
Unit pub
Pub asst
International public relations
Prod consultant
Prod controller
Prod controller
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Post prod accountant
Transportation mgr
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver, 2d unit
Chauffeur to Mr. Robinson
Unit nurse
Animals supplied by
Animals supplied by
Insurance supplied by
Completion guaranty provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," performed by Bryan Adams, courtesy of A & M Records, produced by Mutt Lange, written by M. Kamen, B. Adams and R.J. Lange
"Wild Times," performed and produced by Jeff Lynne, courtesy of Reprise Records, written by M. Kamen and J. Lynne.
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 June 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 14 June 1991
New York opening: week of 14 June 1991
Production Date:
6 September 1990--early January 1991 in England and France
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Rank Film Laboratories Ltd.
Lenses/Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
143
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31216
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1194 A.D., Robin of Locksley is imprisoned in Jerusalem after fighting in the Crusades under King Richard. One night, he overpowers a guard, and frees his companion, Peter Dubois, while a Moor named Azeem, who has been sentenced to death for murder, begs to be freed as well. Promising to show them the way out, Azeem accompanies Robin and Peter, who is shot down by a guard’s arrow outside the prison. As he dies, Peter asks Robin to deliver a ring to his sister, Marian, and watch after her. Robin attempts to part ways with Azeem, but the Moor insists on repaying Robin by seeing him home safely to England. Arriving at Locksley Castle, Robin finds his home decimated, his father’s corpse hanging in a cage, and the Locksleys’ aged servant, Duncan, blinded. Duncan explains Lord Locksley was executed by the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham after confessing to Satan worship. However, Robin is certain his father was a pious Christian and provides the man with a proper burial. He recalls Lord Locksley’s disapproval of the Crusades as a vain effort to force religion onto others, and vows to avenge his death. Meanwhile, Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff of Nottingham’s cousin, informs the Sheriff of Robin’s return. The Sheriff consults with Mortianna, a witch, who predicts King Richard “The Lionheart” will soon return and screams that a “painted man” haunts her dreams. The Sheriff deduces that the painted man is Azeem as Mortianna urges him to kill both him and Robin. When Robin seeks out Marian at her home, she initially attacks, dressed as a male guard, but stops when she confirms his identity. Robin gives her Peter’s ... +


In 1194 A.D., Robin of Locksley is imprisoned in Jerusalem after fighting in the Crusades under King Richard. One night, he overpowers a guard, and frees his companion, Peter Dubois, while a Moor named Azeem, who has been sentenced to death for murder, begs to be freed as well. Promising to show them the way out, Azeem accompanies Robin and Peter, who is shot down by a guard’s arrow outside the prison. As he dies, Peter asks Robin to deliver a ring to his sister, Marian, and watch after her. Robin attempts to part ways with Azeem, but the Moor insists on repaying Robin by seeing him home safely to England. Arriving at Locksley Castle, Robin finds his home decimated, his father’s corpse hanging in a cage, and the Locksleys’ aged servant, Duncan, blinded. Duncan explains Lord Locksley was executed by the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham after confessing to Satan worship. However, Robin is certain his father was a pious Christian and provides the man with a proper burial. He recalls Lord Locksley’s disapproval of the Crusades as a vain effort to force religion onto others, and vows to avenge his death. Meanwhile, Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff of Nottingham’s cousin, informs the Sheriff of Robin’s return. The Sheriff consults with Mortianna, a witch, who predicts King Richard “The Lionheart” will soon return and screams that a “painted man” haunts her dreams. The Sheriff deduces that the painted man is Azeem as Mortianna urges him to kill both him and Robin. When Robin seeks out Marian at her home, she initially attacks, dressed as a male guard, but stops when she confirms his identity. Robin gives her Peter’s ring and vows to protect her, despite Marian’s suspicion that he is still the spoiled bully she knew as a child. Guy of Gisborne approaches, prompting Azeem and Robin to flee on two of Marian’s horses. The men brave the Sherwood Forest, rumored to be full of ghosts, where they are ambushed by a group of hungry peasants led by Little John, who demands Robin’s gold medallion. Robin agrees to fight for it, plunging into an icy river as Little John knocks him over with a large stick. Robin eventually prevails against Little John, earning the group’s respect. That night, at a campfire, Little John reveals that everyone in his group is an outlaw, but when Robin suggests fighting back against the Sheriff of Nottingham, Little John insists they are farmers, not fighters. On Sunday, poor people beg for alms at church as Robin sneaks in, disguised as a blind man in a hooded cloak. Robin approaches Marian, who informs him the Sheriff has placed a reward on his head. When Robin goes in search of the Bishop, the Sheriff approaches Marian, presents her with a gold dagger, and promises to hang Robin for stealing her horses. Hiding her alliance with Robin, Marian nonetheless encourages the Sheriff to act benevolently as her cousin, King Richard, will reward faithful subjects upon returning from the Crusades. In his chambers, the Bishop informs Robin that Lord Locksley was, indeed, a Satan worshipper. Robin realizes the Bishop is in cahoots with the Sheriff and narrowly escapes Nottingham’s men. Outside the church, he steals the Sheriff’s horse and a bag of food, then delivers it to his hungry friends in Sherwood Forest. The Sheriff burns down a village in search of Robin, whom he now refers to as “Robin Hood” and “The Sherwood Bandit,” and the homeless villagers join the other peasants in the forest. Robin leads his outlaw comrades in a series of robberies, stealing from rich people as they pass through the forest en route to London and distributing the loot to the poor. One day, they ambush a group of Nottingham soldiers led by Guy of Gisborne as they transport a chest of gold. Robin’s group steals the gold and takes a drunken clergyman, Friar Tuck, captive. When Guy returns to Nottingham Castle to report the robbery, the Sheriff kills him. Marian and her handmaid, Sarah, come to Sherwood Forest and discover the elaborate campsite Robin’s group has built. Robin shows her the money he has stolen, explaining that some of it was “blood money” sent by the Sheriff to assassinate King Richard, and Marian donates the Sheriff’s gold dagger. Marian wonders how a former nobleman has found his place amongst peasants, and Robin quotes his father, saying nobility is “not a birthright but defined by one’s actions.” She asks if his experience in the Crusades erased Robin’s hatred of his father, and he says he does not know, recalling his father’s affair with a peasant woman shortly after his mother’s death. Robin admits he wants a family of his own, but Marian questions whether a “Prince of Thieves” is capable of love. Their talk is interrupted when Fanny, Little John’s wife, goes into labor. Azeem, who has proven himself an expert fighter and wise man, saves her from a breech birth by turning the baby before it is born. In the morning, Robin asks Marian to send word to King Richard in France, telling him of the Sheriff’s plan to assassinate the king. Later that day, Marian entrusts one of the Bishop’s men to deliver her letter to France, sending Sarah along with him. However, the man knocks Sarah unconscious and re-routes the letter to the Sheriff. Throngs of mercenary Celts join Nottingham’s army as they descend on Sherwood Forest. Robin’s men take cover in the trees, where they have built platforms and bridges, but Nottingham’s army destroys their campsite with flaming arrows. Many of the outlaws are taken prisoner, but Robin disappears after a potentially fatal fall. Marian is kidnapped and held prisoner at Nottingham Castle, where the Sheriff informs her that she must marry him to save the lives of the peasants he has taken captive. Presenting Robin’s medallion as proof that he is dead, the Sheriff sends Marian into a fit of tears. In the dungeon, the Sheriff demands the whereabouts of Robin Hood, uncertain whether he is dead or alive. Will Scarlett, a young outlaw who resents Robin Hood, offers to betray the bandit in exchange for freedom. Scarlett is released and soon finds Robin burying his fallen comrades. He announces the Sheriff’s plans for a public hanging the next day, but Robin suspects that Scarlett is there to kill him, and asks why the young man harbors him ill will. Scarlett explains that they are brothers – his mother was the peasant woman with whom Lord Locksley had an affair. If it weren’t for Robin’s disapproval of the relationship, Scarlett would have been raised as a Locksley. Robin embraces Scarlett, rejoicing that he has a brother, and the two reconcile. Robin and Azeem mastermind a plan to infiltrate Nottingham Castle before the public hanging, filling beer barrels with explosive powder that are snuck in by Friar Tuck. As Robin, Azeem, Little John, and Fanny take position on the castle walls, Scarlett sneaks into the crowd of onlookers. A peasant captive named Wulf recognizes Scarlett on his way to the scaffold and calls him a traitor. When guards find him armed, Scarlett is taken to the scaffold with the other prisoners who are about to be hanged. Azeem takes aim at a barrel of explosives, but when he is about to fire a flaming arrow, an executioner thwarts him by laying Scarlett’s head on the barrel for decapitation. Robin shoots the executioner with a flaming arrow just before he kills Scarlett. Azeem calls out to the villagers, urging them to join the fight for freedom. As Robin’s growing army storms the castle, Mortianna warns the Sheriff he is doomed if he does not marry Marian and impregnate her right away. The Bishop rushes the wedding ceremony, then watches as the Sheriff attempts to rape Marian. Just then, Azeem attacks Mortianna and Robin comes to Marian’s aid. Elsewhere, Friar Tuck finds the Bishop stashing money for an escape and pushes him out the window. The Sheriff and Robin face off in a swordfight, but just as the Sheriff pins Robin against the wall, wielding Lord Locksley’s sword, Robin produces the Sheriff’s gold dagger and stabs him to death. Mortianna re-appears, attempting to kill Robin, but Azeem saves him, announcing that he has finally repaid his debt. Marian embraces Robin, who says he would die for her. Soon after, the two are wed in the forest by Friar Tuck. Surprising the bride and groom, King Richard appears and thanks Robin for protecting his throne. The newly married couple kisses and everyone cheers. +

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

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