The girl-power-fueled surf movie Blue Crush, which celebrates its 20-year anniversary this year, was nearly a very different story.
In a new interview for E! Online, members of the creative team behind the cult hit said they re-tooled the script in direct response to the success of The Fast in the Furious, which was released the previous year.
"They started to think, 'Can we change [Blue Crush]? Can we make it for boys too? Make it have more adrenaline and can we Fast and Furious it?'" screenwriter Lizzy Weiss said in the interview. "That's sort of the deal with Hollywood. It keeps adjusting and evolving, but I was up for it. I was excited."
Michelle Rodriguez, who stars in both films, served as a catalyst for that connection. Director John Stockwell recalls, "there was a desire to bring some of that audience over and some of that celebrity status" to the surfer-girl movie after Rodriguez signed on.
Rodriguez 44, alongside her costars Kate Bosworth and Sanoe Lake, rounded out the trio of surfers, telling a story inspired by a 1998 Susan Orlean's magazine article Life's Swell, which focused on the freedom and camaraderie between the female cohort of surfers in Hawaii at the time.
"It was this beautiful story of girls surfing in a very pure way," Weiss said. "It's called soul-surfing and it's not in a competitive-sport way."
With that inspiration in mind, the initial script focused on the relationships between the four girls. But in the final movie, the story had a different spin and a broader appeal. Weiss and Stockwell said it was a decision from producer Brian Grazer and the studio to make it more of a "sports movie."
They were ultimately able to strike a balance, and although the film was panned by critics and underperformed at the box office, it still resonates with viewers today.
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"When the movie came out, we were still in a world in which the majority of movie critics were men and a bunch of the top papers gave it sort of patronizing reviews," Weiss said.
"I couldn't understand how they couldn't see it for what it was. Not every movie needs to be reviewed as, 'Is this an Academy Award contender?' Nope, not every movie is, not every movie wants to be."
Weiss said she was "proud" of Blue Crush, calling it "a perfect blend of cool and feminist." Talking about the ending, she said the script had to include not just a story of a female athlete, but one of balance between friendship, career goals and romance.
"That was really important to me, that we can show a woman athlete, who was totally empowered but also wanted this boy to like her and how that fit into her future," Weiss explained. "I just thought that that's okay and that's real and we are allowed to be all those things."
"What the journey is for her is overcoming her fear, the nightmare of becoming injured, and she did," Weiss said.
"You don't have to get No. 1 to win [at the box office]. You can win in a lot of different ways. And that scene where there are two girls in the water and instead of being at each other's throats, they support each other — I love that scene and we're showing you that you can do it different."
On Tuesday, Kate Bosworth, 39, posted a series of throwback photos with Rodriguez and Sanoe Lake to Instagram along with a long and sentimental caption celebrating the movie's 20th anniversary and the impact it has had on her life.
The post features seven slides of photos of the three co-stars and friends from 2002. The physical photos, which were developed two decades ago, have an authentic early 2000s quality to them — some even have tape around the edges because "they were taped to Sanoe's journal for many years (probably still are :)" according to Bosworth's post.
She finished up the lengthy caption with a loving tribute to Rodriguez and Lake. "My soul sisters for life, I feel you in my laughter every single day," she wrote. "And suddenly there we are again, on the shores of Sunset Beach. 💙"
Two years ago, Bosworth, Rodriguez and Lake reunited virtually in 2020 ahead of the movie's 18th anniversary — a reunion that fans could experience on YouTube. The three co-stars shared their love of the film and their experience working together and all agreed they would be totally up for making a Blue Crush sequel.