|The Day After Tomorrow|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roland Emmerich|
|Story by||Roland Emmerich|
|Based on||The Coming Global Superstorm|
by Art Bell and
|Music by||Harald Kloser|
|Edited by||David Brenner|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$544.3 million|
The Day After Tomorrow is a 2004 American science fiction disaster film co-written, directed, and produced by Roland Emmerich and starring Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ian Holm, Emmy Rossum, and Sela Ward. It is based on the book The Coming Global Superstorm by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber. The film depicts catastrophic climatic effects following the disruption of the North Atlantic Ocean circulation in a series of extreme weather events that usher in global cooling and lead to a new ice age.
Originally slated for release in the summer of 2003, The Day After Tomorrow premiered in Mexico City on May 17, 2004, and was released in the United States on May 28, 2004. A major commercial success, the film became the sixth highest-grossing film of 2004. Filmed in Toronto and Montreal, it is the highest-grossing Hollywood film made in Canada (adjusted for inflation). It received mixed reviews upon release, with critics highly praising the film's special effects but criticizing its writing and numerous scientific inaccuracies.
Jack Hall, an American paleoclimatologist, and his colleagues Frank Harris and Jason Evans, drill for ice-core samples in the Larsen Ice Shelf for the NOAA, when the shelf breaks apart. Jack warns of impending global warming at a UN conference in New Delhi, but US Vice President Raymond Becker dismisses his concerns. Professor Terry Rapson, an oceanographer of the Hedland Centre in Scotland befriends Jack over his views of an inevitable climate shift. When several buoys in the Atlantic Ocean show a severe ocean temperature drop, Rapson concludes Jack's theories are correct. Jack's and Rapson's teams, along with NASA meteorologist Janet Tokada, build a forecast model based on Jack's research.
A massive storm system develops in the northern hemisphere, splitting into three gigantic hurricane-like superstorms above Canada, Scotland, and Siberia. The storms pull frozen air from the upper troposphere into their center, flash-freezing anything caught in their eyes with temperatures below −150 °F (−100 °C). Meanwhile, the weather worsens across the world; Tokyo is struck by a giant hail storm, sea levels in Nova Scotia rise 25 feet (7.6 m) in seconds, and Los Angeles is devastated by a tornado outbreak. Following this, President Blake issues an executive order for the FAA to ground all air traffic across the country.
In New York City, Jack's son Sam, and his friends Brian Parks and Laura Chapman participate in an academic decathlon, where they meet new friend JD. New York is soon caught in the North American storm and the weather becomes progressively more violent, resulting in a massive storm surge flooding Manhattan. This forces Sam's group to seek shelter at the New York Public Library, but not before Laura accidentally cuts her leg. While cellphone communications are down, Sam is able to contact Jack and his mother Lucy, a physician, through a working payphone; Jack advises him to stay inside and promises to rescue him. Rapson and his team perish in the European storm. Lucy remains in a hospital caring for bed-ridden children, where she and her patients are eventually rescued by the authorities.
Upon Jack's suggestion, Blake orders the southern states to be evacuated into Mexico; the northern half are doomed to be hit by the superstorm, but are warned by the government to seek shelters and stay warm. With the storm having now reached Washington, Blake perishes after his motorcade is caught in it, making Becker the new President. Jack, Jason, and Frank make their way to New York against all odds. In Pennsylvania, Frank falls through the skylight of a mall, cutting his rope to prevent his friends from falling in after him. In the library, most survivors, upon seeing many survivors from other structures deciding to head south after the floodwater outside freezes over, decide to follow suit in spite of Sam's warnings; only a few survivors end up taking heed of Sam's advice to stay put, burning books to stay warm as the temperatures plunge.
Laura develops blood poisoning from her injury, whereupon Sam, Brian, and JD scour a Russian cargo vessel that had drifted into the city for penicillin, fending off a pack of wolves which escaped from Central Park Zoo. The eye of the North American storm arrives, freezing Manhattan solid, but Sam's group make it inside just in time with the medicine and food. Likewise, Jack and Jason take shelter in an abandoned Wendy's restaurant. Jack and Jason continue to proceed towards New York after the eye has passed. While traveling, they come across the group who left the library frozen to death. Days later, the superstorms dissipate. Jack and Jason successfully reach the library, finding Sam's group alive.
Becker, in his first address as President, apologizes on television for his ignorance, vowing to send helicopters to rescue survivors in the northern states. Jack and Sam's group are picked up in Manhattan, where many people have survived. On the International Space Station, astronauts look down in awe at the transformed surface of the planet, now free of pollution, and with new ice caps generated by the superstorms, extending across the northern hemisphere.
- Dennis Quaid as Professor Jack Hall
- Jake Gyllenhaal as Sam Hall
- Sela Ward as Dr. Lucy Hall
- Emmy Rossum as Laura Chapman
- Ian Holm as Professor Terry Rapson
- Austin Nichols as J.D.
- Adrian Lester as Simon
- Christopher Britton as Vorsteen
- Arjay Smith as Brian Parks
- Dash Mihok as Jason Evans
- Jay O. Sanders as Frank Harris
- Sasha Roiz as Parker
- Perry King as President Blake
- Kenneth Welsh as Vice President/President Raymond Becker
- Tamlyn Tomita as Janet Tokada
- Glenn Plummer as Luther
- Amy Sloan as Elsa
- Sheila McCarthy as Judith
- Nestor Serrano as Tom Gomez
- Christian Tessier as Aaron
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The Day After Tomorrow was inspired by Coast to Coast AM talk-radio host Art Bell and Whitley Strieber's book, The Coming Global Superstorm, and Strieber wrote the film's novelization. Before and during the film's release, members of environmental and political advocacy groups distributed pamphlets to moviegoers describing the possible effects of global warming. Although the film depicts effects of global warming predicted by scientists (such as rising sea levels, more destructive storms, and disruption of ocean currents and weather patterns), it depicts their occurrence more rapidly and severely than what is considered scientifically plausible; the theory that a superstorm could create rapid worldwide climate change does not appear in the scientific literature.
To choose a studio, writer Michael Wimer created an auction. A copy of the script was sent to all major studios along with a term sheet. They had 24 hours to decide whether to produce the movie with Roland Emmerich directing. Fox Studios was the only studio to accept the terms.
The Day After Tomorrow is widely-known for its special effects and CGI. The movie features 416 visual effects shots, with nine effects houses, notably Industrial Light & Magic and Digital Domain, and over 1,000 artists working on the film for over a year. Although a miniature set was initially considered according to the behind-the-scenes documentary, for the destruction of New York sequence effects artists instead utilized a 13 block-sized 3D model of Manhattan which was then textured with over 50,000 scanned photographs; due to its overall complexity and a tight schedule, the storm surge scene required as many as three special effects vendors for certain shots.
The film ranked #2 at the box office (behind Shrek 2) over its four-day Memorial Day opening, grossing $85,807,341. It led the per-theater average, with a four-day average of $25,053 (compared to Shrek 2's four-day average of $22,633). At the end of its theatrical run, the film grossed $186,740,799 domestically and $544,272,402 worldwide. It was the second-highest opening-weekend film not to lead at the box office; Inside Out surpassed it in June 2015.
The Day After Tomorrow received mixed reviews from critics, who praised its visual effects and criticized its writing and scientific inaccuracy. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 44% of 219 critics reviewed the film positively, with an average rating of 5.29/10. According to the website, it is "A ludicrous popcorn flick filled with clunky dialogues, but spectacular visuals save it from being a total disaster." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times described the film as "profoundly silly" but nonetheless said the film was effective and praised the special effects. He gave it three stars out of four.
|Saturn Awards||Best Science Fiction Film||Nominated|
|Best Special Effects||Karen E. Goulekas, Neil Corbould, Greg Strause and Remo Balcells||Nominated|
|BAFTA Awards||Best Visual Effects||Won|
|VES Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in an Effects Driven Motion Picture||Karen Goulekas, Mike Chambers, Greg Strause, Remo Balcells||Nominated|
|Best Single Visual Effect||Karen Goulekas, Mike Chambers, Chris Horvath, Matthew Butler||Won|
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Action Sequence||"The destruction of Los Angeles"||Won|
|Best Breakthrough Performance||Emmy Rossum||Nominated|
|Irish Film & Television Awards||Best International Actor||Jake Gyllenhaal||Nominated|
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best Action Film||Nominated|
|Environmental Media Awards||Best Film||Won|
|BMI Film Awards||Best Music||Harald Kloser||Won|
|Golden Reel Awards||Best Sound Editing – Effects & Foley||Mark P. Stoeckinger, Larry Kemp, Glenn T. Morgan, Alan Rankin, Michael Kamper, Ann Scibelli, Randy Kelley, Harry Cohen, Bob Beher and Craig S. Jaeger||Nominated|
Political and scientific criticism
Emmerich did not deny that his casting of a weak president and the resemblance of vice-president Kenneth Welsh to Dick Cheney were intended to criticize the climate change policy of the George W. Bush administration. Responding to claims of insensitivity in his inclusion of scenes of a devastated New York City less than three years after the September 11 attacks, Emmerich said that it was necessary to showcase the increased unity of people in the face of disaster because of the attacks.
Some scientists criticized the film's scientific aspects. Paleoclimatologist and professor of earth and planetary science at Harvard University Daniel P. Schrag said, "On the one hand, I'm glad that there's a big-budget movie about something as critical as climate change. On the other, I'm concerned that people will see these over-the-top effects and think the whole thing is a joke ... We are indeed experimenting with the Earth in a way that hasn't been done for millions of years. But you're not going to see another ice age – at least not like that." J. Marshall Shepherd, a research meteorologist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, expressed a similar sentiment: "I'm heartened that there's a movie addressing real climate issues. But as for the science of the movie, I'd give it a D minus or an F. And I'd be concerned if the movie was made to advance a political agenda." According to University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver, "It's The Towering Inferno of climate science movies, but I'm not losing any sleep over a new ice age, because it's impossible."
Patrick J. Michaels, a largely oil-funded climate change denier  and former research professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia who rejects the scientific consensus on global warming, called the film "propaganda" in a USA Today editorial: "As a scientist, I bristle when lies dressed up as 'science' are used to influence political discourse." College instructor and retired NASA Office of Inspector General senior special agent Joseph Gutheinz called The Day After Tomorrow "a cheap thrill ride, which many weak-minded people will jump on and stay on for the rest of their lives" in a Space Daily editorial.
When paleoclimatologist William Hyde of Duke University was asked on Usenet if he would see the film, he answered that he would not unless someone offered him $100. Subscribers to the newsgroup took up the challenge and, despite Hyde's protests, raised the $100. Hyde's review on Google Groups criticized the film's depiction of weather which stopped at national borders; it was "to climate science as Frankenstein is to heart transplant surgery".
Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, an expert on thermohaline circulation and its effect on climate, said after a talk with scriptwriter Jeffrey Nachmanoff at the film's Berlin preview:
Clearly this is a disaster movie and not a scientific documentary, [and] the film makers have taken a lot of artistic license. But the film presents an opportunity to explain that some of the basic background is right: humans are indeed increasingly changing the climate and this is quite a dangerous experiment, including some risk of abrupt and unforeseen changes ... Luckily it is extremely unlikely that we will see major ocean circulation changes in the next couple of decades (I'd be just as surprised as Jack Hall if they did occur); at least most scientists think this will only become a more serious risk towards the end of the century. And the consequences would certainly not be as dramatic as the 'superstorm' depicted in the movie. Nevertheless, a major change in ocean circulation is a risk with serious and partly unpredictable consequences, which we should avoid. And even without events like ocean circulation changes, climate change is serious enough to demand decisive action.
In 2008, Yahoo! Movies listed The Day After Tomorrow as one of its top-10 scientifically inaccurate films. It was criticized for depicting meteorological phenomena as occurring over the course of hours, instead of decades or centuries. A 2015 Washington Post article reported on a paper published in Scientific Reports which indicated that global temperatures could drop relatively rapidly (one degree Fahrenheit over an 11-year period) due to a temporary shutdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation caused by global warming.
The film was released on VHS and DVD October 12, 2004 and was released in high-definition video on Blu-ray in North America on October 2, 2007 and in the United Kingdom on April 28, 2008, in 1080p with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track and few bonus features. DVD sales were $110 million, bringing the film's gross to $652,771,772.
- Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet – a 2007 non-fiction book
- The Coming Global Superstorm – a book on which the movie is based
- Fifty Degrees Below – a Kim Stanley Robinson novel in which greenhouse warming similarly disrupts the Gulf Stream
- Time of the Great Freeze – a novel by Robert Silverberg about a second Ice Age
- The World in Winter – a 1962 book by John Christopher about the beginning of a new ice age
- Geostorm - a 2017 film with disasters taking place around the world
- Ice – a 1998 film with a similar premise starring Grant Show, Udo Kier, and Eva La Rue
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- "Scientific consensus: Earth's climate is warming". Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
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- Monbiot, George (May 14, 2004). "A hard rain's a-gonna fall". The Guardian. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
- "Top 10: Scientifically Inaccurate Movies". Yahoo7 Movies. Wayback Machine. July 28, 2008. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
- "Disaster Flick Exaggerates Speed Of Ice Age". Science Daily. May 13, 2004. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
- Wang, Yanan (October 12, 2015). "Model suggests possibility of a 'Little Ice Age'". Washington Post. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
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- The Day After Tomorrow at Box Office Mojo
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- The Day After Tomorrow: A Scientific Critique