8 Decades of The Hollywood Reporter
When Total Recall opened in 1990, The Hollywood Reporter review called it a "colossal, Schwarzenegger-pumped, TriStar release" that might not appeal to well-educated women because they're "prone to undervalue the joys of witnessing the varied nature of human gore, especially when prompted by high-powered weaponry." Losing that demographic didn't hurt box office. Based on Philip K. Dick's 1966 short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale," the film had the Terminator star as a 2084 construction worker who goes on a brain-wracking adventure after getting a memory implant of a Mars vacation. It brought in $261 million worldwide -- $679 million in today's dollars -- and was the year's seventh-highest take. Director Paul Verhoeven came aboard after the script had undergone roughly 40 rewrites over a decade. "All the science fiction stories of Philip K. Dick are more two-act than three-act," says the Dutch director, now 74. "So you have 50 to 65 minutes, then you're trying to fill the gap with chasing and shooting and bang-bang." He says writer Gary Goldman solved the script problem by adding a twist: The audience starts off thinking the lead character's a good guy even though he's bad, but after getting the Mars memory implant, he decides to be good. At least that's how Verhoeven saw the complex plot. After the film's success, producer Carolco Pictures acquired the rights to Dick's Minority Report with plans to change it into a Recall sequel with Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger. But Carolco went bankrupt, 20th Century Fox bought the rights and Steven Spielberg cast Tom Cruise to make Minority Report in 2002, which sort of stuck to the story. A Total Recall remake starring Colin Farrell opens Aug. 3.