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This article is about the 1991 U.S. film. For other uses, see Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (disambiguation).

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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
A bowman, ready to release a fiery arrow. Below two figures, beside a tree, silhouetted against a lake background.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKevin Reynolds
Screenplay by
  • Pen Densham
  • John Watson
Story byPen Densham
Produced by
  • Pen Densham
  • Richard Barton Lewis
  • John Watson
CinematographyDouglas Milsome
Edited byPeter Boyle
Music byMichael Kamen
Morgan Creek[1]
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • June 14, 1991 (1991-06-14) (United States)
Running time
143 minutes[2]
  • United States
Budget$48 million[3]
Box office$390.5 million[4]

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a 1991 American romantic action adventure film. The film, an iteration of the legendary English folk tale, was directed by Kevin Reynolds. The film's principal cast includes Kevin Costner as Robin Hood, Morgan Freeman as Azeem, Christian Slater as Will Scarlet, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Maid Marian Dubois, and Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

The film grossed over $390 million worldwide, ranking as the second-highest-grossing film of 1991. For his role as George, Sheriff of Nottingham, Rickman was accorded 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 Song and won the Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television.[5]


Robin of Locksley – an English nobleman who joined Richard the Lionheart, King of England in the Third Crusade – is imprisoned in Jerusalem along with his comrade, Peter Dubois. Facing the amputation of his hand by the Ayyubid prison guards, Robin escapes with Peter, saving the life of a Moor named Azeem in the process. Robin, Peter, and Azeem escape through a sewer and into an alley, but Peter is shot and mortally wounded by an archer. Before making his last stand against the approaching guards, he has Robin swear to protect his sister, Marian. Robin returns to England with Azeem, who has vowed to accompany him until Azeem's life-debt to Robin is repaid.

In England, with King Richard still away (in France), the cruel Sheriff of Nottingham rules over the land, aided by his cousin, Guy of Gisbourne, the witch Mortianna, and the corrupt Bishop of Hereford (Harold Innocent). At Locksley Castle, Robin's father, who is loyal to King Richard, is killed by the Sheriff's men after refusing to join them.

Robin returns to England to find his father dead, his home in ruins, and the Sheriff and his men oppressing the people. After telling Marian of Peter's demise, and while fleeing the Sheriff's forces afterwards, Robin and Azeem encounter a band of outlaws hiding in Sherwood Forest, led by Little John. Among the band is Will Scarlet, who holds a belligerent grudge against Robin. Robin ultimately assumes command of the group, encourages his men to fight against Nottingham, and trains them to defend themselves. They rob soldiers and convoys that pass through the forest, then distribute the stolen wealth among the poor. One of their early targets is Friar Tuck, who subsequently joins these Merry Men. Marian begins to sympathize with the band and renders Robin any aid she can muster. 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 from Scotland to assist his forces in assaulting the hideout. The Sheriff manages to locate the outlaws' hideout and launches an attack, destroying the forest refuge and capturing most of the outlaws. He confines Marian when she tries to summon help from France. In order to consolidate his claim to the throne, the Sheriff proposes to Marian (who is Richard's cousin), claiming that 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 Scarlet, who makes a deal with the Sheriff to find and kill Robin in exchange for his freedom.

Will meets back with Robin and a handful of his most trusted aides who survived the assault by the Celts. Instead of attacking Robin, Will informs him of the Sheriff's plans to marry Marian and execute Robin's men. Will continues to display anger against Robin, which motivates Robin to question why Will hates him so much. Will then reveals himself to be Robin's younger illegitimate half-brother; Will's mother was a peasant woman with whom Robin's father took comfort after Robin's mother had died. Robin's anger toward his father caused him to separate from her and leave Will fatherless. Despite his anger, 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, freeing the prisoners. Although Robin's band originally planned to free their friends and retreat, Azeem reveals himself and his willingness to fight the Sheriff, inciting the peasants to revolt. After a fierce fight, Robin kills the Sheriff but is attacked by Mortianna, who charges with a spear. Azeem slays Mortianna, fulfilling his vow to repay his life debt. Tuck kills the Bishop, burdening him with treasure and throwing him out a window.

Robin and Marian profess their love for each other and marry in the forest. Their wedding is briefly interrupted by the return of King Richard, who blesses the marriage and thanks Robin for his deeds.


  • Kevin Costner as Robin Hood (Robin of Locksley)[6]
  • Morgan Freeman as Azeem
  • Christian Slater as Will Scarlet
  • Alan Rickman as George, Sheriff of Nottingham[7]
  • Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Marian Dubois
  • Geraldine McEwan as Mortianna
  • Mike McShane as Friar Tuck
  • Brian Blessed as Lord Locksley
  • Michael Wincott as Guy of Gisborne
  • Nick Brimble as Little John
  • Harold Innocent as the Bishop of Hereford
  • Walter Sparrow as Duncan
  • Daniel Newman as Wulf
  • Sean Connery (uncredited) as King Richard
  • Jack Wild as Much the miller's son
  • Daniel Peacock as Bull


File:CRW 2684.jpg

Sycamore Gap at Hadrian's Wall. Today known as the "Robin Hood Tree".[8]

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

On the DVD commentary for ITV's Robin of Sherwood television series, which ran from 1983 to 1986, writer and creator Richard Carpenter explains that the stunt coordinator from the Robin of Sherwood series, Terry Walsh, was hired to do stunt work for Prince of Thieves. While on set, Walsh noticed that there was a Saracen assassin character named Nasir in the film. That character was a creation of Carpenter and is exclusive to the Robin of Sherwood series. Once the creators of Prince of Thieves realized there was potential copyright infringement, they changed the character's name from Nasir to Azeem. Carpenter also explains that Costner and others involved in Prince of Thieves have admitted to watching Robin of Sherwood as inspiration for their film.[citation needed]


Principal exteriors were shot on location in the United Kingdom. A second unit filmed the medieval walls and towers of 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 throughout 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.[9] Sycamore Gap on Hadrian's Wall was used for the scene when Robin first confronts the Sheriff's men.[10] Chalk cliffs at Seven Sisters, Sussex were used as the locale for Robin's return to England from the Crusades.[11]

Interior scenes were completed at Shepperton Studios in Surrey, England.[9]


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.[12]

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  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" – Bryan Adams (6:33)
  10. "Wild Times" – Jeff Lynne (3:12)


Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was submitted for classification from the British Board of Film Classification and required 14 seconds to be cut from the film in order to obtain a PG rating.[2]


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."[13] 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."[14] The Los Angeles Times found the movie unsatisfactory as well.[15] Costner was criticised for not attempting an English accent.[16]

Lanre Bakare, writing in The Guardian calls Rickman's Sheriff, for which he won a BAFTA, a "genuinely great performance".[17] Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected reviews from 52 critics to give the film a score of 50%.[18]

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.[19]

In 2005, the American Film Institute nominated this film for AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores.[20]

Box office[]

Despite mixed critical reception, the film was a box office hit. It made $25 million in its opening weekend and $18.3 million in its second. The film would eventually make $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 non-sequel, at the time.[21][22][23][24]


A tie-in video game of the same name was 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., it was featured as the cover game for the July 1991 issue of Nintendo Power magazine.[25]

A toy line was released by Kenner, consisting of action figures and playsets. Notably, all but one of the figures were slightly modified from 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.[26]

See also[]

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  • Princess of Thieves – 2001 television movie
  • Robin Hood – English folk tale
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights – 1993 parody film
  • Robin Hood – 1991 British film


  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. 2.0 2.1 "ROBIN HOOD - PRINCE OF THIEVES (PG) (CUT)". British Board of Film Classification. July 4, 1991. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  3. "Robin Hood Freshens Up A Film Legend". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  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. 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).
  9. 9.0 9.1 Pearce, Garth; Green, Simon (1991). Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Bdd Promotional Book Co. pp. 22–34. ISBN 9780792456339.
  10. Else, David & Sandra Bardwell, Belinda Dixon, Peter Dragicevich (2007). Lonely Planet: Walking in Britain. Lonely Planet. p. 224. ISBN 978-1-7410-4202-3.
  11. Pirani, Adam (May 1991). "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves". Starlog. p. 40.
  12. David Victor (August 30, 2012). "Studio Logo Music". Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  13. "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  14. Canby, Vincent (June 14, 1991). "A Polite Robin Hood In a Legend Recast". The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  15. Turan, Kenneth (June 14, 1991). "'Robin': Medieval Dash, New Age Muddle". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  16. Easton, Nina J. (June 23, 1991). "A look inside Hollywood and the movies". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  17. Bakare, Lanre. "My guilty pleasure – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves", The Guardian, March 26, 2014
  18. "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  19. Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
  20. "AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  21. "Robin Hood prince of summer flicks with $18.3 million weekend". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  22. Fox, David J. (June 25, 1991). "Robin Hood Still Riding Ahead of Box Office Pack". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  23. Fox, David J. (June 18, 1991). "'Robin' Hits Impressive Box Office Bull's-Eye". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  24. "Can 'Robin Hood' Keep Up Its Box-office Momentum?". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  25. Tilden, Gail, ed. (July 1991). Nintendo Power. Vol 26. ISSN 1041-9551. |volume= has extra text (help)
  26. Salvatore, Ron. "The recycling of the Force - Starwars". The Star Wars Collectors Archive. Retrieved February 6, 2016.

External links[]

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