Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a 1991 American action-adventure film based on the English folk tale of Robin Hood that originated in the 12th century. It was directed by Kevin Reynolds and stars Kevin Costner as Robin Hood, Morgan Freeman as Azeem, Christian Slater as Will Scarlett, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Marian, and Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham. The screenplay was penned by Pen Densham and John Watson.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKevin Reynolds
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Pen Densham
  • John Watson
Story byPen Densham
Music byMichael Kamen
CinematographyDouglas Milsome
Edited byPeter Boyle
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • June 14, 1991 (1991-06-14) (United States)
Running time
143 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$48 million[3]
Box office$390.5 million[4]

The film received mixed reviews from critics, who praised Freeman and Rickman's performances as well as the music, but criticized the screenplay, overall execution, and Costner's performance. Despite this, it was a box office success, grossing over $390 million worldwide, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1991. For his role as George, Sheriff of Nottingham, Rickman received the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The film's theme song "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" by Bryan Adams was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and won the Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television.[5] Costner's performance as Robin Hood garnered poor reviews and won him the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor.


During the Third Crusade, Richard the Lionheart, King of England is away in France, leaving the cruel Sheriff of Nottingham—aided by his cousin Guy of Gisbourne, the witch Mortianna, and the corrupt Bishop of Hereford - to rule the land. Robin of Locksley, a nobleman, chose to follow the king in his Crusade. At Locksley Castle, Robin's father, who is loyal to King Richard, is attacked by the Sheriff's men after refusing to join them.

Robin, meanwhile, has been imprisoned in Jerusalem along with his comrade, Peter Dubois. They break free from Ayyubid prison guards and save the life of a Moor named Azeem, but Peter is mortally wounded in the process. After making Robin swear to protect his sister, Marian, Peter sacrifices himself so Robin can fully escape the city.

Robin returns to England with Azeem, who has vowed to accompany him until his life-debt to Robin is repaid. After a run-in with Gisbourne, Robin returns home, finding his father dead and the castle in ruins. Robin tells Marian of Peter's demise and, after fleeing the Sheriff's forces, encounters a band of outlaws hiding in Sherwood Forest, led by Little John. Among the band is Will Scarlett, who holds a belligerent grudge against Robin. Robin assumes command of the group, training them into a formidable force in opposition of Nottingham. They rob any convoys that pass through the forest and distribute the stolen wealth among the poor. Friar Tuck, once a member of a convoy, joins the group after coming to understand Robin's cause. Marian sympathizes with the band and offers Robin any aid she can muster; the two grow close and begin to fall in love. Robin's successes infuriate the Sheriff, who increases the mistreatment of the people, resulting in greater local support for Robin Hood.

The Sheriff kills Gisbourne for his failure to prevent the looting of several convoys and hires Celtic warriors to bolster his forces. The Bishop betrays Marian after she confides in him an attempt to contact King Richard in France and she is taken prisoner. After locating the outlaws' hideout, the Sheriff launches an attack, destroying the refuge and capturing many; Robin is presumed dead. To consolidate his power and claim the throne, the Sheriff proposes to Marian (who is Richard's cousin); if she accepts, he will spare the lives of the captured outlaws. Nevertheless, several of the rebels are due to be executed by hanging as part of the wedding celebration. Among the captured is Will; he makes a deal with the Sheriff to find out if Robin lives and, if so, kill him in exchange for freedom.

Will finds Robin alive, along with John and a handful of other survivors. After informing Robin of the executions and the Sheriff's plans to wed Marian, Will continues lashing out at Robin. Questioning Will as to why he holds so much hate, Will reveals that he is Robin's younger half-brother; after Robin's mother died, his father had taken comfort with a peasant woman. Robin's anger over what he saw as a betrayal of his mother's memory caused his father to leave her, thereby leaving Will fatherless. Robin is overjoyed to learn that he has a brother and reconciles with Will.

On the day of the wedding and hangings, Robin and his men infiltrate Nottingham Castle and free the prisoners. After Azeem inspires the peasants to revolt, the Sheriff retreats with Marian into a chapel to be married; Robin pursues him and, after a fierce fight, kills the Sheriff. Mortianna attacks him, but she is slain by Azeem, fulfilling his life-debt to Robin. Tuck finds the Bishop attempting to flee with bundles of gold; Tuck burdens him with the treasure before defenestrating him.

Robin and Marian profess their love for each other and are married in the forest, though they are briefly interrupted by the return of King Richard, who blesses the marriage and thanks Robin for his deeds.




Rickman turned down the role of the sheriff twice before he was told he could have carte blanche with his interpretation of the character.


Principal exteriors were shot on location in the United Kingdom. A second unit filmed the medieval walls and towers of the Cité de Carcassonne in the town of Carcassonne in Aude, France, for the portrayal of Nottingham and its castle. Locksley Castle was Wardour Castle in Wiltshire restored in an early shot using a matte painting. Marian's manor was filmed at Hulne Priory in Northumberland. Scenes set in Sherwood Forest were filmed at various locations in England: Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire was used for the outlaws' encampment, Aysgarth Falls in Yorkshire for the fight scene between Robin and Little John, and Hardraw Force in North Yorkshire was the location where Marian sees Robin bathing.[10] Sycamore Gap on Hadrian's Wall was used for the scene when Robin first confronts the sheriff's men.[11] Chalk cliffs at Seven Sisters, Sussex were used as the locale for Robin's return to England from the Crusades.[12]

Interior scenes were completed at Shepperton Studios in Surrey.[10]


Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Original Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJuly 2, 1991
Length60:22 (original), 134:39 (expansion)
LabelMorgan Creek Productions (original), Intrada Records (expansion)

The original music score was composed, orchestrated and conducted by Michael Kamen. An excerpt from the main title music was subsequently used as the logo music for Morgan Creek,[13] and has been used by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment in intros for trailers on DVD/Blu-ray.[14] In 2017 the specialty film music label Intrada Records released a two CD album containing the complete score and alternates, though not the songs from Bryan Adams and Jeff Lynne.[15]

1."Overture" / "A Prisoner of the Crusades"8:27
2."Sir Guy of Gisborne" / "The Escape to Sherwood"7:27
3."Little John" / "The Band in the Forest"4:52
4."The Sheriff and His Witch"6:03
5."Maid Marian"2:57
6."Training" / "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves"5:15
7."Marian at the Waterfall"5:34
8."The Abduction" / "The Final Battle at the Gallows"9:53
9."(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" (sung by Bryan Adams)6:33
10."Wild Times" (sung by Jeff Lynne)3:12



Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was submitted for classification from the British Board of Film Classification which required fourteen seconds to be cut from the film to obtain a PG rating.[2]


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 51% based on 53 reviews, with an average rating of 5.67/10. The critical consensus reads, "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves brings a wonderfully villainous Alan Rickman to this oft-adapted tale, but he's robbed by big-budget bombast and a muddled screenplay."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 51 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[18]

Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert praised Freeman's performance as well as Rickman's, but ultimately decried the film as a whole, giving it two stars and stating, "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a murky, unfocused, violent, and depressing version of the classic story... The most depressing thing about the movie is that children will attend it expecting to have a good time."[19] The New York Times gave the film a negative review, with Vincent Canby writing that the movie is "a mess, a big, long, joyless reconstruction of the Robin Hood legend that comes out firmly for civil rights, feminism, religious freedom, and economic opportunity for all."[20] The Los Angeles Times found the movie unsatisfactory, as well.[21] Costner was criticized for not attempting an English accent.[22]

Lanre Bakare, writing in The Guardian, calls Rickman's Sheriff, for which he won a BAFTA, a "genuinely great performance".[23]

Prince of Thieves was nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards: Kevin Costner won the Worst Actor award for his performance as Robin Hood, while Christian Slater received a nomination for Worst Supporting Actor for his performances in this film and Mobsters, but lost to Dan Aykroyd for Nothing but Trouble.[24]

In 2005, the American Film Institute nominated this film for AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores.[25]

Box office

The film grossed $25 million in its opening weekend and $18.3 million in its second. The film eventually made $390,493,908 at the global box office, making it the second-highest grossing film of 1991, immediately behind Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It enjoyed the second-best opening for a nonsequel, at the time.[26][27][28][29]


Tie-in video games of the same name were released in 1991 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy. Developed by Sculptured Software Inc. and Bits Studios, respectively, and published by Virgin Games, Inc., they were featured as the cover game for the July 1991 issue of Nintendo Power magazine.[30]

A toy line was released by Kenner, consisting of action figures and playsets. All but one of the figures were derived by slight modifications to Kenner's well known Super Powers line, while Friar Tuck, as well as the vehicles and playset, were modified from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi toys.[31]

See also


  1. Easton, Nina J. (July 24, 1990). "Costner May Put Morgan Creek Ahead of Robin Hood Pack". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  2. "ROBIN HOOD - PRINCE OF THIEVES (PG) (CUT)". British Board of Film Classification. July 4, 1991. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  3. Billington, Michael (March 18, 1991). "Robin Hood Freshens Up A Film Legend". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  4. "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)". Box Office Mojo. October 17, 1991. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  5. "1992 Grammy Awards". Archived from the original on February 9, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2009.
  6. Dowd, Maureen (June 9, 1991). "FILM; Hollywood's Superhunk Heads for Nottingham". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  7. Leydon, Joe (June 9, 1991). "Robin Hood' and the uncertain science of hype". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  8. Pugh, Tison (2009). "8: Sean Connery's Star Persona and the Queer Middle Ages". In Coyne Kelly, Kathleen; Pugh, Tison (eds.). Queer movie medievalisms. Farnham: Ashgate. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-7546-7592-1.
  9. Sycamore Gap, a section of the wall between two crests just east of Milecastle 39, is locally known as the "Robin Hood Tree" for its use in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991).
  10. Pearce, Garth; Green, Simon (1991). Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Bdd Promotional Book Co. pp. 22–34. ISBN 9780792456339.
  11. Else, David & Sandra Bardwell, Belinda Dixon, Peter Dragicevich (2007). Lonely Planet: Walking in Britain. Lonely Planet. p. 224. ISBN 978-1-7410-4202-3.
  12. Pirani, Adam (May 1991). "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves". Starlog. p. 40.
  13. David Victor (August 30, 2012). "Studio Logo Music". Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  14. "Film Score Monthly". July 10, 2009. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  16. "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
  17. "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  18. D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 22, 2018). "'Ralph' Breaking The B.O. With $18.5M Weds., Potential Record $95M Five-Day; 'Creed II' Pumping $11.6M Opening Day, $61M Five-Day". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  19. "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  20. Canby, Vincent (June 14, 1991). "A Polite Robin Hood In a Legend Recast". The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  21. Turan, Kenneth (June 14, 1991). "'Robin': Medieval Dash, New Age Muddle". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  22. Easton, Nina J. (June 23, 1991). "A look inside Hollywood and the movies". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  23. Bakare, Lanre. "My guilty pleasure – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves", The Guardian, March 26, 2014
  24. Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
  25. "AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  26. "Robin Hood prince of summer flicks with $18.3 million weekend". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  27. Fox, David J. (June 25, 1991). "Robin Hood Still Riding Ahead of Box Office Pack". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  28. Fox, David J. (June 18, 1991). "'Robin' Hits Impressive Box Office Bull's-Eye". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  29. "Can 'Robin Hood' Keep Up Its Box-office Momentum?". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  30. Tilden, Gail, ed. (July 1991). Nintendo Power. Vol 26. ISSN 1041-9551.
  31. Salvatore, Ron. "The recycling of the Force - Starwars". The Star Wars Collectors Archive. Retrieved February 6, 2016.

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