Taglines: In their hands, a deck of cards was the only thing more dangerous than a gun.
Maverick is recreated from the character James Garner created in the 1950s TV program. Maverick is a gambler who would rather con someone than fight them. He needs an additional three thousand dollars in order to enter a Winner Take All poker game that begins in a few days. He tries to win some, tries to collect a few debts, and recover a little loot for the reward, all with a light hearted air. He joins forces with a woman gambler with a marvelous, though fake, southern accent as the two both try and enter the game.
Maverick is a 1994 American Western comedy film directed by Richard Donner and written by William Goldman, based on the 1950s television series of the same name created by Roy Huggins. The film stars Mel Gibson as Bret Maverick, a card player and con artist collecting money to enter a high-stakes poker game. He is joined in his adventure by Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster), another con artist, and lawman Marshall Zane Cooper (James Garner). The supporting cast features Graham Greene, James Coburn, Alfred Molina and a large number of cameo appearances by Western film actors, country music stars and other actors.
The film received a favorable critical reception for its light-hearted charm, and was financially successful, earning over $180 million during its theatrical run. Costume designer April Ferry was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
The film earned $101,631,272 (55.5%) in North America and $81,400,000 (44.5%) elsewhere for a worldwide total of $183,031,272. This gross made it the number 12 highest-grossing film in North America and the number 15 highest-grossing film worldwide of 1994. As of 2013, the film is the number 6 highest grossing Western film in North America.
Pre-release tracking showed that the film would open strongly,. During its opening weekend in North America, Maverick earned $17.2 million million from 2,537 theaters – an average of $6,798 per theater – ranking as the number 1 film of the weekend, and took a total of $41.8 million over its first two weeks of release. The movie was a box office success as it grossed over $183 million worldwide.
The steamboat used in the film—dubbed the Lauren Belle—was the Portland, the last remaining sternwheel tugboat in the US; at the time it belonged to the Oregon Maritime Museum in Portland. Over several weeks, the boat was decorated to alter its appearance to resemble a Mississippi-style gambling boat, including the addition of two decorative chimneys.
In August 1993, the production requested permission to film scenes of the riverboat along the Columbia River in Washington State. The artificial smoke released by the boat’s chimney was considered to violate air-quality laws in Washington and Oregon and required approval for the scenes before their scheduled filming date in September 1993. After filming concluded, the decorations were removed and the boat was returned to its original state.
In Five Screenplays with Essays, Goldman describes an earlier version of the script, in which Maverick explains he has a magic ability to call the card he needs out of the deck. Although he is not able to do so successfully, the old hermit he attempts to demonstrate it for tells him that he really does have the magic in him.[ This scene was shot with Linda Hunt playing the hermit but it was felt it did not work on the context of the rest of the movie and was cut.
Directed by: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner, Graham Greene, Alfred Molina, James Coburn, Geoffrey Lewis, Dennis Fimple, Dan Hedaya, Denver Pyle
Screenplay by: William Goldman
Production Design by: Thomas E. Sanders
Cinematography by: Vilmos Zsigmond
Film Editing by: Stuart Baird, Michael Kelly
Costume Design by: April Ferry
Set Decoration by: Lisa Dean
Art Direction by: Daniel T. Dorrance
Music by: Randy Newman
MPAA Rating: PG for mild sensuality, language and some western action.
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: May 20, 1994