Unrealistic, over the top, but always entertaining. The current master of disaster Roland Emmerich has inherited the title from Irwin Allen. There is nobody better at putting together an ensemble cast then killing them off by hitting them in the face with a tidal wave or an erupting a volcano underneath them.
His 2004 disaster epic The Day After Tomorrow has actually aged well. In these days of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion it seems timely, and a little hilarious that at its core there is a rapid onset ice age. Those of you old enough to remember the 70s will recall the new ice age was the climate threat we all faced back then. Watching cities get pounded by natural disasters all rendered in decent quality CGI also never gets old.
It’s easy to forget that back in 2004 climate change hadn’t really seeped into the public consciousness quite as it has today.
While out promoting Midway, Emmerich tells us just how different things were and that he faced resistance from non-understanding studio executives back then. It seems the ending was a problem, with heroes surviving but the environmental catastrophe complete and a new ice age is upon us, with millions dead.
Emmerich tells Variety the studios couldn’t wrap their heads around it:
“When I did ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ one or two of the studios who wanted it when I took the movie to auction said, ‘Can you not explode an atomic bomb or break a dam, [so that] everything gets flooded, and it all goes away?’.
The moment we walked out, I said to my producer: ‘Yeah, not them. They don’t understand what I’m doing here.’”
The film ended up at Fox, but even he had to push hard to get a sign-off at the end of the process:
“When they finally saw the movie, they had a little trouble with it. They said, ‘Oh, my God, there is no real happy ending.’ It was there on the page, but it really hit them when they saw it.
I said, ‘Guys, I can’t make this a happy ending because if humanity keeps going like this, there will be no happy ending.’ It’s a little bit of what I hate about Hollywood so much right now. They could very easily, in one of the Marvel movies, create a situation which is clearly a climate crisis. But they don’t.”
The Day After Tomorrow earned more than $542 million worldwide and stayed in the top ten for a month.