Hollywood's Apocalyptic Boomlet

By Robert Marich
   July 31, 2009 – Hollywood will roll out a slew of apocalyptic-themed movies in the months ahead, which diverge from usual global-destruction films that usually have the world on the edge. A Wall Street Journal article says these films present the survivors dealing with the aftermath.
   The releases include Sony Pictures’ 2012 from Roland Emmerich (Independence Day), Warner Bros.’ The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington, Focus Features’ animated 9 from Tim Burton (Batman) and The Road starring Viggo Mortensen from Weinstein Co./Dimension Pictures.
   “Expect to see characters fending off cannibals, picking up day-to-day survival techniques and struggling to maintain their humanity amid the ruins,” says the WSJ article by John Jurgensen and Jamin Brophy-Warren. Some new TV series are also part of the apocalyptic boomlet.  
   These represent a new spurt in what is a genre that produced occasional memorable films ranging from Mad Max (which launched Mel Gibson’s stardom) to I Am Legend two years ago. “The run-up to the millennium saw a boomlet of effects-driven disaster epics, including Armageddon and Deep Impact. Independence Day was the highest-grossing movie of 1996, taking in $300 million in the U.S.,” notes the WSJ article.
   In reaction, Marketing to Moviegoers adds that advances in special effects make it easier to present apocalyptic spectacle on the silver screen, achieving both high quality and, in many cases, images that would be impossible outside of computer generation. The tech advancements also have already lifted other genres such as family films with Harry Potter series and fantasy as evidenced by Spider-Man series. Film distributors are reacting to audiences that continue to support well-done visual films.
   The WSJ article notes The Road is being produced at a modest $20 million, which is another attraction of apocalyptic films because barren landscapes are free and easy compared to WWII battlefield recreations or other historical period dramas.
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