2017: Year of the Climate Movie Flop

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Washington Times reporter Christian Toto points out the remarkable failure of a whole series of Hollywood climate disaster movies – and the cognitive dissonance of producers and critics who keep pushing out movies nobody wants to watch.

Hollywood tries to save the Earth, but moviegoers aren’t buying eco-messages anymore

Christian Toto

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Climate change got its close-up in 2017. A gaggle of films either name-checked Al Gore’s biggest fear or built their narratives around it.

The timing, in theory, couldn’t be better for Hollywood bean counters: Three major hurricanes. Massive fires in the West. Record-setting chills. Media reports routinely connected the disasters with a warming planet.

Yet audiences stayed away from films influenced by eco-concerns. Far, far away.

Think “Blade Runner 2049,” “Geostorm,” “Downsizing,” “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” and “mother!” They all flopped, some in spectacular fashion.

Justin Haskins, executive editor at the right-leaning, free-market Heartland Institute, said Hollywood insiders remain fixated on saving the planet.

“They believe climate change will bring people to the movies,” Mr. Haskins said. “That’s wildly out of touch with how moviegoers feel about the issue.”

A Pew Research survey this year found that “the environment” does not rank among the top 10 public policy concerns of most Americans, trailing behind “terrorism,” “the economy,” “education” and “jobs,” among others.

Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot and a fiery critic of global warming alarmism, sees the films’ collective failures differently. Mr. Morano calls the box office failures a disconnect between show business and its consumers.

“Hollywood is finding out that the climate scare continues to be nothing more than a big yawn for the public,” Mr. Morano said. “Lecturing the public on climate change is boring, and ticket receipts prove this.”

Read more: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/dec/28/global-warming-films-flop-box-office-2017/

Unfortunately (fortunately?) I haven’t seen any 2017 climate movies. But I disagree with the premise that the climate movie genre is dead. There is still plenty of scope for a good climate disaster movie. Maybe Hollywood (2017) was not making the right kinds of climate disaster movies.

I still enjoy watching the occasional rerun of “The Day After Tomorrow”. Setting aside the shoddy science, “The Day After Tomorrow” is a watchable movie. The hero Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) is a likeable character – brave, resourceful, trying to do the right thing. There is drama, suspense, terror. The movie is entertaining.

You don’t have to believe in The Force to watch a Star Wars movie. You don’t have to believe in the carbon fairy to watch a good climate disaster movie. But the movie has to be good enough to make up for any deficits.

Take “These Final Hours” (2013). Not exactly a climate movie, but the movie contains some very rapid global warming. A huge Asteroid has struck the North Atlantic, the world is slowly, inevitably being engulfed by an enormous fireball. Australia where the movie is based, will be one of the last countries to die. What do you do? Anarchy, chaos and violence on the streets – there is no future, no consequences. Hopeless efforts to find a way to survive. And throughout the movie the slow inexorable approach of certain doom, as country after country in the path of the fireball is silenced. “On the Beach” meets “Mad Max”.

A low budget film festival effort which only took $360,234 at the box office, but brim full of drama and suspense.

Lets just say if the director Zak Hilditch ever makes another climate disaster movie, I shall probably want to see the cinema release.

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January 1, 2018 3:46 am

Holly wood needs to do some research.

‘Climate Change’ Ranks Dead Last in United Nations’ Own Survey”

Reply to  richard
January 1, 2018 4:42 am

Hollywood needs to learn from those other great story tellers, Aesop and Hans Christian Anderson.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf describes what happens when you keep making alarmist predictions that don’t come true.

The Emperor’s New Clothes is a lot like CAGW. Some folks don’t dare express their misgivings for fear of being thought of as unworthy.

There are plenty of excellent traditional stories that Hollywood could be using. My favourite example is O Brother, Where Art Thou? which is based on the Odyssey.

Reply to  commieBob
January 1, 2018 8:00 am

“The Day after” was my favorite for close to reality and made for TV 1983 Jason Robards, Jo-Beth Williams.

Before long we will may be watching “Rocket Man” as a movie or in our back yard?

Mike McMillan
Reply to  commieBob
January 1, 2018 8:48 am

I think “Sixteen Candles” is hard to beat for a disaster movie. Disaster after disaster, and still a happy ending.

Reply to  richard
January 1, 2018 4:52 am

Richard. The UN MyWorld Survey 2015 is The United Nations equivalent of Harry Potter’s Voldemorte. Or Oscar Wilde on Stats and Research.
The Survey that they dare not speak of or name.

Reply to  richard
January 1, 2018 10:06 am

Anyone else see What Happened To Monday?

george e. smith
Reply to  richard
January 1, 2018 8:21 pm

Art Bell (of ” Dreamland ” fame) had his hand in writing ” The Day After tomorrow.”

Does Eric need to know more about that movie ??

It’s cheaper to buy the Blue Ray disk than to go to a movie theatre.

It’s even cheaper to not buy the disk either. And saves a lot of energy by not running the stereo sound that loud.


Reply to  george e. smith
January 1, 2018 8:43 pm

“And saves a lot of energy by not running the stereo sound that loud.”

Pardon ????

January 1, 2018 3:53 am

I rather enjoyed Blade Runner 2049… good for brain relaxation..

You know any climate change message they might try to send is FICTION, as much as Star Wars or Mad Max is fiction.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  AndyG55
January 1, 2018 5:47 am

Saw Blade Runner last night to ring in the New Year. The ‘hook’ line was “when the ecosystem collapsed in the ’20’s” meaning the 2020’s. As if we are now about ten years from ‘collapse’.

The movie would make more sense if it were move three centuries down the road.

Hollywood is full of replicants. Even think about that? With a sudden appearance and a media life of about 4 years, and a few living longer for no apparent reason, Hollywood lives inside Blade Runner’s world. The Harvey Weinsteins can help you live forever, while a sub-class of human scum terminate those who have outlived their usefulness, struck a blow against the system, or worst of all, created something original on their own. That is the true horror show.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 1, 2018 9:52 am

The original book that Bladerunner was based on was written in the 60s or 70s, the last time eco-disaster was just round the corner. So it’s no surprise that the story was set after the disaster had happened.

There’s a reason the sheep in the title are electric and not meat.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 1, 2018 10:10 am

Phillip K. Dick published Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep in 1968, and even then, the data was far too soon.
Obviously we are not going to have fully human replicants anytime soon…it will be a very long time, if ever.
Same for the subtext of space colonization and travel to other stars.
It was never realistic that those things would be reality as soon as that book foresaw.
But, in fairness, this is a common mistake in sci-fi.

Reply to  AndyG55
January 1, 2018 9:26 am

I just watched that, and, was kinda let down by the ending. Just seemed to fizzle.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  William Teach
January 1, 2018 9:36 am

Hmm, I thought that name looked familiar. Arrrrgh.

Don’t know why they made that sequel. No life, no spirit, no direction. Even the special effects weren’t as good as the original hand-made ones.

Jeff Norman
Reply to  AndyG55
January 1, 2018 11:12 am

I LOVED Blade Runner 2049 but then the original is one of my all time favorites. The environmental disaster aspect seemed to be more of the scenery than the message. Las Vegas was wrecked by a dirty bomb which suggests something other than a slow climate change driven disaster. I agree the timeline is inconceivable given the size and extent of the Los Angeles sea wall.

I disagree about The Day After Tomorrow. I do not like it because it is so very preachy and contrives a bizarrely unlikely climate scenario with impossible results (like the Statue of Liberty survives being hit by a giant wave which almost immediately freezes (written by people with absolutely no clue about the natural sciences)).

I want to see What Happened to Monday, but haven’t found the time yet.

george e. smith
Reply to  Jeff Norman
January 1, 2018 8:29 pm

Go watch …. “Darkest Hour ” …. if you want to watch movies about coming disasters.

And that one already has a sequel; that’s called …. ” Dunkirk ” ….

I’m old enough to remember what I was doing when both of those things actually happened; from a relatively safe distance.


Reply to  Jeff Norman
January 2, 2018 9:38 am

Great youtube vid on the the making of the first blade runner film.

Russ Wood
Reply to  Jeff Norman
January 4, 2018 6:25 am

On “The Day After Tomorrow”, my wife and I had a good laugh as one of the heroes out-ran COLD. Well, you can catch a cold, so why not?

Reply to  AndyG55
January 2, 2018 1:27 pm

Blade Runner was great Sci Fi (emphasis on the “Fi”, ie. fiction), both movies, the second faithful as a further examination of the central theme of the first. The Post-Apocalypse world is not related to Global Warming—-Dick wrote in the ’60’s….ignore Hollywood’s little revisionist insertion of CAGW…they are just silly, as time will tell. And even in this movie, if I recall the scene at the great junkyard of “San Diego”, it was snowing in Southern California, so climate collapse in this light may mean the abrupt onset of the next ice age, as some at this blog have predicted, and not global warming. The theme of the book and the movies is more about ‘what is alive?’ and “what is human and not machine?”. Regardless of politics, as AI technology marches forward, along with genetic engineering, being thoughtful on this theme is important for the future of humanity.

For those who think along the line “machines will never be creative nor intelligent in the human sense nor will they ever seek to ‘take over’ vis-a-vis Terminator” are not being realistic. 150 years ago many intelligent people did not believe human flight in planes could happen in the next 50 years, nor space flight to the moon in the next 100 or so years. 100 years is nothing in the big picture of life on earth. As far as I am concerned, Philip Dick, crazy as he was, was intelligently concerned about what will certainly be an important issue for our collective future as humans…unlike Global Warming, which will not be.

Ron Long
January 1, 2018 3:59 am

Does this mean Bill Nye, the pseudo-science guy, is going to turn on Hollywood and sanction them? That might be worth watching.

January 1, 2018 4:11 am

The real shame is that they often get very good actors to play very stupid roles in those ‘global warming’ movies. On the other hand, maybe those really good actors are really stupid when it comes to science, to boot.

Reply to  ClimateOtter
January 1, 2018 9:38 am

Never assume that good actors pick roles based on how scientifically accurate they are, or how good the scripts are.

Michael Caine once said something about one of his movies along the lines of ‘yes, it was a very bad movie. But it bought me a very nice house.’

Reply to  MarkG
January 1, 2018 10:12 am

They have to agree to do the movies long before production has even started, often before the script and screenplay has been finalized.
Predicting from a script what movies will be great ones is obviously very difficult, and for some more than others.

January 1, 2018 4:20 am

All because Al Bore showed us his inert floppy one first;
Nobody wanted to see another grotesque floppy one after that.

Ron Clutz
January 1, 2018 4:37 am

comment image

Reply to  Ron Clutz
January 1, 2018 9:22 am

(that’s funny… ☺)

January 1, 2018 4:58 am

If only AMC would stop showing “The Day After Tomorrow” ad nauseam.

Reply to  techgm
January 1, 2018 6:05 am

Compromise — they could schedule it continuously for the day after tomorrow?

george e. smith
Reply to  BallBounces
January 1, 2018 8:33 pm

Count on them showing it for as long as people remain bored with their finger toys and want to sit in the dark for a while.


george e. smith
Reply to  BallBounces
January 1, 2018 8:35 pm

I think you just won the power bull lottery .

Wish I had thought of your solution.


Reply to  techgm
January 1, 2018 10:15 am

Why should they stop showing it if people keep watching?
If no one watched, they would not waste the airtime.
But, nothing is easier than changing the channel, or never tuning in to begin with.
I do not understand your “If only”.
If only…then what?
The world would be a better place?
Reruns would be uniformly more enjoyable?
Is their airing it ruining your life?

January 1, 2018 5:19 am

“Take “These Final Hours” (2013). Not exactly a climate movie, but the movie contains some very rapid global warming”

More like This Final Hour and a Half You’ll Never Get Back. 50% of the dialog is swearing.

January 1, 2018 5:19 am

Actually I got a laugh out of “Down Sizing”….. It portrayed the Global warming extremists as quite nutty…. You got the feeling that they were truly eco religious fanatics and quite implacably mad.

I wouldn’t recommend it…. but I did laugh.

Dave in the UP
January 1, 2018 5:23 am

Given the temps in NA right now “The Day After Tomorrow” could be today….

January 1, 2018 5:33 am

Frankly, anybody who claims to lie awake at night worrying about what will happen to his great grandchildren 100 years from now is, in my opinion, full of bull. Most normal people are focused on the next 10 minutes, or the next day as the limit of their attention span. We’re hard-wired not to look too far ahead, because we’d all end up focused on our own dying, right?

Reply to  Trebla
January 1, 2018 1:26 pm

Unless the next day involves making money off scare stories about the future.

January 1, 2018 5:52 am

The entertainment industry is a collection of gifted liars, they can convince people that they are smart, strong, moral or what ever it takes to play the part. They read the words of others and use someone else’s name, they can fake any emotion convincingly, some leave you believing that they are the people that they portray. This talent does not make them smart, strong or moral, just because they played a scientist on TV does not make up for dropping science like a hot potato in grade 8. Actors and English majors are the first to leave science and math behind, you will find many failed science students excelling in other fields, but it is rare to find a former “gender studies” student that turns to mathematics and finds success.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  CraigAustin
January 1, 2018 6:04 am

Yeah but, what if they stayed at a Holiday Inn Express the night before?

Reply to  CraigAustin
January 1, 2018 10:18 am

Considering what editing and good direction can do, I think they can make almost anyone a huge star if they want.
That was why Weinstein was able to do what he did…pick stars based on who would sleep with him.

January 1, 2018 5:52 am

I thought that all the anthropogenic issues associated with CAGW + CC, namely: hurricanes, floods, drought, glacial melt, earthquakes, and volcanos were resolved in 1966 by one Derek Flint. Working under the auspices of Z.O.W.I.E., he singlehandedly destroyed a group of mad scientists’ ability to control the weather/climate. I saw this in a movie the other night, “Our Man Flint”. I grew up in the 60s and one would be hard pressed to convince me that the events as portrayed in that film are not accurate. Maybe it is a documentary.

Reply to  kivy10
January 1, 2018 10:19 am

Flint was the best.
He made a mockery of all the other movies in the genre.

Reply to  kivy10
January 1, 2018 7:55 pm

Loved those old James Coburn movies.. : Magnificent Seven, Flint, The Great Escape etc etc
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Roger Knights
Reply to  AndyG55
January 1, 2018 11:29 pm

Also, The President’s Analyst, IIRC.

January 1, 2018 6:06 am

2018 ought to be made the year of public discussion of propaganda and manipulation by the news media.

January 1, 2018 6:07 am

The eloquent red-pilled people’s champ Morano has it right. People go to the movies to be entertained and to forget the cares of reality for a while. Not to be lectured at. Hollyweird is imploding under a morass of totally vomit-inducing political correctness and now we see endless desperate attempts to remake everything with women replacing men and ethnic/religious minorities replacing anyone with even a hint of moral rectitude. There is surely a massive market gap here just yawning for the low budget independent film makers to fill.

Reply to  cephus0
January 1, 2018 7:38 am

Jodie Foster has given an interview in which she proclaims that the rash of superhero movies are destroying the industry. She whines that they don’t force people to think.

Reply to  MarkW
January 1, 2018 9:19 am

Well, Jodie is right. First off, super-hero movies are essentially deus ex from the ground up. We know who will win. The only unknown is how they can make this turkey appear for ten minutes as if Stupendous Man is going to lose for the first time evah. Usually this involves “Kraptonite” in some form. Second, these movies always have tons of CGI effects. So many, in fact, that the audience is distanced from whatever human qualities Stupendous Man has. There is no warmth, there is no identification with Stupendous Man. Third, there are so many sequels, the films all seem the same, with the same “can-you-top-this” villain(s). Yawn.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  MarkW
January 1, 2018 9:26 am

She also compared them to fracking.

I have no interest in superhero movies, but Hollywood has been putting-out brainless movies my entire life. Why didn’t she speak-out when she was active as an actress and director?

Russ R.
Reply to  MarkW
January 1, 2018 9:40 am

Movies are about provoking an emotional response in the viewer. It is a clear indication of Jodie’s intellect that she interprets that as thinking. Thinking takes work. It is challenging. Most of us get paid to do it. If I have to go to a theater and pay to get in, only to listen to a pompous windbag TELL ME WHAT TO THINK..I am not going.
That is why Star Wars continues to succeed and the movies that most of us didn’t see this year, are not successful.

Reply to  MarkW
January 1, 2018 10:23 am

As if people are just champing at the bit to pay their hard earned money in order to be “forced to think” by the Jodie Foster’s of the world.
Hollywood is full of jackasses.

Reply to  MarkW
January 2, 2018 7:58 am

Special effects only distract from the characters when the director allows them to.

James Bull
January 1, 2018 6:16 am

I managed to avoid going to the cinema last year there were one possibly two films that I thought “that might be a laugh to see” but I quickly forgot them and did something else. Most of the films I watch are older.
One I have been trying to find on DVD is The Return of Captain Invincible which I find very funny and it has a song which I think sums up CAGW nicely.

James Bull

January 1, 2018 6:21 am

I think our president has given people permission to smell F A K E news a mile away….it’s been doom and gloom about one thing or the other for way too long….economy is doing good…people are looking up and sick and tired of looking down

David Ball
Reply to  Latitude
January 1, 2018 1:17 pm

As I said in a previous thread: people are numb to the doom. Happy New Year, Latitude. Say Hello to your brother, Longitude for me ;).

Ian L. McQueen
January 1, 2018 8:36 am

A propos of nothing above, what is taking place in the arctic? Is the recent cold wave in the south the result of warm(ish) air moving into the arctic and pushing arctic air southward, or has that returned to normal, too?

Reply to  Ian L. McQueen
January 1, 2018 10:27 am

It is impossible for cold air to move southward without an equal volume of warmer air moving northward.

Ian L. McQueen
Reply to  menicholas
January 1, 2018 11:05 am

Menicholas: That much I knew already! What I really want(ed) to know is the actual temperatures and whether the ice is one bit thinner than usual.

Reply to  menicholas
January 1, 2018 11:38 am

Sea ice is struggling to form in some areas.

Still way above MWP sea ice extent , though.

donald penman
Reply to  Ian L. McQueen
January 1, 2018 11:36 am

look at how the temperature in the Arctic has changed recently it has got less cold.

Joe E
Reply to  donald penman
January 2, 2018 7:37 am

Doesn’t mean much as the Arctic summers (when you get melt) are not warmer. Its still below freezing in the winter so no melting there either.

Reply to  Ian L. McQueen
January 2, 2018 4:20 am

I’m working in the Russian arctic. Yamal peninsula. Not too cold mid to high twenties F.

January 1, 2018 8:52 am

Hollywood is run and populated by useful idiots and easily bought fence sitters. It is a bastion of do gooders without any moral compass who generally “do” more harm than good to society. Expect more climate scare mongerring movies because the producers and bank rollers are easy prey to blackmail brought on by their debased lifestyles.

John W. Garrett
January 1, 2018 8:55 am

It has given me great pleasure to click on the Natural Resources Defense Council advertisement link currently appearing on WUWT about 100 times. If I understand it correctly (and there is a not insignificant possibility that I don’t), that should provide revenue to WUWT out of the pocket of the NRDC.

Dr. Deanster
January 1, 2018 9:12 am

I have always wondered upon who’s authority Hollywood and Actors (esses) were proclaimed “Smart”.

IMO .. they are all pretty much on par with a box of rocks.

January 1, 2018 9:20 am

How is it that they think they can save us from the hurricane harveys of the world when they can’t even save themselves from the harveys of hollywood?

Craig Moore
January 1, 2018 9:33 am

Meanwhile, it is so cold that even the walleye are wearing caribou parkas and eating seal blubber to stay warm. http://fresnowalleyes.com/fresnocam.html

John F. Hultquist
January 1, 2018 9:36 am

Is there a spreadsheet with movies, release date, ticket sales, production & marketing costs, and so on?
Second: Is there an index of success?

Walter Sobchak
January 1, 2018 10:14 am

It is not just CAGW. Hollywood has gone quite off the tracks. In the last couple of months I have gone to the movie theater twice. Neither movie had anything to do with climate or science. Both of them will be on the list for Oscars this year I am sure, and were very well reviewed. Both of them were dreadful experiences. I left the theater hating my self for having wasted $10 and two hours of my time.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
January 1, 2018 10:32 am

The only reason to not wait the three months of so for it to be released for DVD or streaming, is if the big screen is needed to enjoy the film properly.
Or for the social aspect of going out to a movie.
Paying movie theatre prices is almost always a waste of money.
If the money is not trivial to you, just wait.
That is my advice.

Reply to  menicholas
January 2, 2018 7:59 am

I go for the popcorn.

January 1, 2018 1:24 pm

Well they had to do something else since the market for useful idiots died in Venezuela.

January 1, 2018 2:30 pm

Why hasn’t State of Fear been made into a movie?
Kingsman is kind of the same theme in that global warming alarmism motivates the villain.

January 1, 2018 2:35 pm

To the writers of “Downsizing”-
Arthur C. Clarke, “ Profiles of the Future: an inquiry into the limits of the possible.”(Millenium Edition)-
“ At any level of size, certain things are possible and others are impossible.The whole world of living creatures,with all its richness and variety, is dominated and controlled by the elementary fact of geometry which states: if you double the size of an object you multiply it’s area four times- but it’s volume ( and hence weight) eight times. From this mathematical platitude,the most momentous consequences flow. It implies,for instance,that a mouse cannot be as big as an elephant.or an elephant as small as a mouse- and that a man cannot be the size of either.”
Welcome back, Matt Damon and screen wife to humankind!

January 2, 2018 3:51 am

Regarding bad science fiction, The Day After Tomorrow is one of the best. It’s so bad, that a Chinese climate scientist referred to it as an “American scientific film.” 2012 is very good bad science fiction too… Los Angeles falling into the Pacific and Woody Harrelson getting blown up by Yellowstone… Awesome! My favorite bad science fiction movie is Armageddon… I love it when Bruce Willis is driving golf balls at Greenpeace protesters from the oil platform.

Now… Some bad science fiction is simply bad… The Core is unwatchable. It doesn’t even have comedic value.

January 2, 2018 9:02 am

List of apocalyptic films from pre-1950 to present:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_apocalyptic_films

I’d forgotten how many I’ve seen and enjoyed.
One of my favorites was Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

January 2, 2018 3:06 pm

Never saw the current film. But “On The Beach” is disturbingly well made and poignant.

January 2, 2018 4:34 pm

The doom and gloom that some people are experiencing now in the cold and dark is, I guess, too real for a film. Truth is colder than fiction.

sensual shark
January 6, 2018 12:41 pm

Really makes you think about every aspect of the casting couch phenomenon

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