Weather-related mayhem has made for big box office in the past. The granddaddy of all super-storm disaster films was 1996’s Twister, a Michael Crichton production that roared its way to a $241 million domestic gross. The disaster may have been more localized in 2000’s The Perfect Storm, affecting just a single group of fishermen on a single boat, but the result was still big box office as the movie took in $182 million in the U.S. Roland Emmerich upped the ante significantly at least action-wise in 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow, taking the catastrophe global and scaring audiences to the tune of $186 million domestically.
With global warming continuing to provoke discussion, Hollywood is once again hoping to cash in on people’s concerns with a special effects disaster extravaganza. Veteran producer Dean Devlin took the director’s chair for Geostorm, which details the meteorological mayhem that ensues when a flotilla of climate-controlling satellites malfunctions. A pair of brothers must work to defuse the situation, which not only involves out-of-control climate satellites but also a plot to assassinate the president.
A full trailer for Geostorm is promised for tomorrow, March 7th, 2017, but Skydance has given us a taste by dropping a 15-second teaser. In the brief clip, a series of tornadoes stabs down from the skies over Mumbai, wreaking havoc on the city. Rest assured the full trailer will feature even more terror and destruction – as well as Geostorm star Gerard Butler, with the veins popping out of his neck as he tries to stop humanity from being wiped out.
Though Dean Devlin has a proven track-record as a producer of disaster epics, with the Independence Day series and Godzilla under his belt, his relative inexperience as a director is cause to be concerned about Geostorm. In fact, the movie reportedly went through $15 million worth of reshoots late last year, with Jerry Bruckheimer being brought on to oversee things and Devlin being replaced in the director’s chair by Danny Cannon. Not only was a lot of the movie re-shot, but the script was reworked to bring in a new female character, as original costar Katheryn Winnick was recast. The movie was likewise set to be released on January 13th, 2017 but was pushed back after the reshoots and now looks like a risky box office bet when it comes out on October 20th.￼
The fact that Geostorm had to undergo reshoots is not by itself cause for alarm, but what is somewhat troubling is that after directing the film himself, Devlin was quietly shuffled aside and replaced while much of his work was done over by someone else. The convoluted-seeming plot involving not only the satellites in outer space, the weather madness going on all over the world and a very Gerard Butler-movie-sounding presidential assassination plot could indicate a certain desperation to compensate for a bad story – by over-stuffing the movie with audience-pleasing elements, culled from a whole variety of different blockbusters.
Of course a movie can be totally insane and over-stuffed but still entertaining and successful. 2015’s disaster movie San Andreas managed to work with audiences despite being crammed full of absurdity, but that movie had the advantage of Dwayne Johnson’s star presence. It remains to be seen if Gerard Butler, Abbie Cornish, Ed Harris and the rest of the Geostorm cast can keep their heads above water, while disaster of many varieties is unfolding around them.