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The Day After Tomorrow is a Americanmarker science-fiction film that depicts the catastrophic effects of both global warming and global cooling in a series of extreme weather events that usher in a new ice age. It did well in the box office, grossing $542,771,772 internationally. It is the second highest grossing movie not to be #1 in the US box office (behind My Big Fat Greek Wedding). The movie was filmed in Montrealmarker, and is the highest grossing Hollywood film in history to be filmed in Canadamarker (if adjusted for inflation).

The Day After Tomorrow premiered in Mexico Citymarker on May 17, 2004, but it was also shown to contestants on the reality television series Big Brother Australia beforehand, which is not classified as the premiere for the movie. It was released worldwide from May 26 to May 28 except in South Koreamarker and Japanmarker where it was released June 4 and June 5, respectively. The film was originally planned for release in summer 2003.The film made $110,000,000 in DVD sales, bringing its total film gross to $652,771,772.


Jack Hall is (Dennis Quaid) in Antarcticamarker with two colleagues, Frank and Jason (Jay O. Sanders and Dash Mihok), drilling for ice core samples on the Larsen Ice Shelfmarker for the NOAA when the ice shelf breaks off from the rest of the continent. Jack presents his findings on global warming at a United Nations conference where diplomats, including the Vice-President of the United States, (Kenneth Welsh) are unconvinced by Jack's theory.

Jack's concerns resonate with Professor Terry Rapson (Ian Holm) of the Hedland Climate Research Centre in Scotland. Two buoys in the North Atlanticmarker simultaneously show a massive drop in water temperature, and Rapson concludes that melting of the polar ice has begun disrupting the North Atlantic current. He calls Jack, whose paleoclimatological weather model holds reconstructional data of the palaeoclimate change that caused the first Ice Age, to predict what will happen. Jack believed that the events would not happen for many years, but he, Frank, Jason, and NASAmarker's meteorologist Janet Tokada (Tamlyn Tomita) build a forecast model with his, Rapson's, and Tokada's data.

Across the world, violent weather causes mass destruction. The U.S. President (Perry King), authorizes the FAA to suspend air traffic over the United States due to severe turbulence. As three RAF helicopters fly to evacuate the British Royal Family, they enter the eye of a massive hurricane-like superstorm, that causes a temperature drop below that freezes their fuel lines and rotors, causing them to crash.

Jack's son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is in New York Citymarker for an academic competition with his friends Brian and Laura (Arjay Smith and Emmy Rossum). During the competition, the weather becomes increasingly violent with strong winds and torrential rains. Sam calls his father, promising to be on the next train home. However, the storm worsens, forcing subways and Grand Central Stationmarker to close. A tidal wave half the height of the Statue of Libertymarker hits Manhattanmarker, putting the island under several feet of water. Sam and his friends seek refuge in the New York Public Librarymarker.

Survivors in the Northern United States are forced to flee south, with some Americans illegally crossing the border into Mexico. After advising the Executive Office of the President of the United States to evacuate half the country, Jack sets off for Manhattan to find his son, accompanied by Frank and Jason. Their truck crashes into a snow-covered tractor-trailer just past Philadelphiamarker, so the group continues on snowshoes. During the journey, Frank falls through the glass roof of a snowbound shopping mall. As Jason and Jack try to pull Frank up, the glass under them continues to crack; Frank sacrifices himself by cutting the rope.

Inside the library, Sam advises everyone of his father's instruction to stay indoors. Few listen, and the small group that remains burns books to keep warm and breaks the library's vending machine for food. Laura is afflicted with blood poisoning, so Sam, Brian, and J.D. search for penicillin in a Russian cargo ship that drifted inland. The eye of the superstorm begins to pass over the city with its temperatures, and the entire New York skyline begins to freeze. The three return to the library with medicine, food and supplies, barely making it to safety.

During the deep freeze, Jack and Jason take shelter in an abandoned Wendy's, then resume their journey after the storm dissipates, finally arriving in New York Citymarker. They find the library buried in snow, but find Sam's group alive and are rescued by helicopters. The new President orders search and rescue teams to look for other survivors, having been given hope by the survival of Sam's group. The movie ends with two astronauts looking down at the view of the Earth from the International Space Station, showing a majority of the northern hemisphere covered in ice, and a drastic reduction in the pollution content.



The movie was inspired by The Coming Global Superstorm, a book co-authored by Coast to Coast AM talk radio host Art Bell and Whitley Strieber. Strieber also wrote the film's novelization.

Shortly before and during the release of the movie, members of environmental and political advocacy groups distributed pamphlets to moviegoers describing what they believe to be the possible effects of global warming. Although the film depicts some effects of global warming predicted by scientists, like rising sea levels, more destructive storms, and disruption of ocean currents and weather patterns, it depicts these events happening much more rapidly and severely than is considered scientifically plausible, and the theory that a "superstorm" will create rapid worldwide climate change does not appear in the scientific literature. When the film was playing in theaters, much criticism was directed at politicians concerning the Kyoto Protocol and climate change. The film's scientific adviser was Dr. Michael Molitor, a leading climate change consultant who worked as a negotiator on the Kyoto Protocol.

The book "The Sixth winter" written by Douglas Orgill and John Gribbin published in 1979 follows a similar theme. So does the novel "Ice!" by Arnold Federbush, published in 1978.


The movie generated mixed reviews from both the science and entertainment communities.
  • The online entertainment guide Rotten Tomatoes has rated the movie at 45%, with an average rating of 5.3/10.
  • Environmental activist and Guardian columnist George Monbiot called The Day After Tomorrow "a great movie and lousy science."
  • In a USA Today editorial by Patrick J. Michaels, a Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginiamarker, and global warming skeptic, Michaels called the movie "propaganda," noting, "As a scientist, I bristle when lies dressed up as 'science' are used to influence political discourse."
  • In a Space Daily editorial by Joseph Gutheinz, a college instructor and retired NASA Office of Inspector General, Senior Special Agent, Gutheinz called the movie "a cheap thrill ride, which many weak-minded people will jump on and stay on for the rest of their lives."

  • Paleoclimatologist William Hyde of Duke Universitymarker was asked, on rec.arts.sf.written, whether he would be seeing the film; he responded that he would not unless someone were to offer him $100. Other readers of the newsgroup took this as a challenge, and (despite Hyde's protests) raised the necessary funds. Hyde's review, which criticized the film's portrayal of weather phenomena that stopped at national borders, and finished by saying that it was "to climate science as Frankenstein is to heart transplant surgery", was quoted in New Scientist.
  • In 2008, Yahoo! Movies listed The Day After Tomorrow as one of Top 10 Scientifically Inaccurate Movies.
  • The film was criticized for depicting several different meteorological phenomena occurring over the course of hours, instead of the more plausible time frame of several decades or centuries.

Over its 4-day Memorial Day opening, the film grossed $85,807,341, however it still ranked #2 for the weekend, behind Shrek 2's $95,578,365 4-day tally, however The Day After Tomorrow led the per-theater average chart with a 4-day average of $25,053, compared to Shrek 2's 4-day average of $22,633. At the end of its box office run, it grossed $186,740,799. Its worldwide gross was $542,771,772.


There was some controversy regarding the casting of Kenneth Welsh as the Vice-President of the United States due to his striking physical resemblance to then Vice-President Dick Cheney. Roland Emmerich later confirmed that he deliberately chose Welsh for that very reason. Emmerich stated that the characters of the President and Vice-President in the film were intended to be a not-so-subtle criticism of the environmental policies of the Presidency of George W. Bush. The White House did not respond to requests for comment on the film.

In response to accusations of insensitivity by including scenes of New York Citymarker being destroyed, less than three years after the September 11th attacks, Emmerich claims that it was necessary to depict the event as a means to showcase the increased unity people now have when facing a disaster, because of 9/11.

A number of scientists were critical of the scientific aspects of the film:

  • Dan Schrag, a paleoclimatologist and professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard Universitymarker expressed both support and concern about the film, stating that "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."
  • Marshall Shepherd, a research meteorologist at the NASAmarker Goddard Space Flight Centermarker expressed similar sentiments, stating that "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."
  • Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at the University of Victoriamarker said, "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."

Home media


  • It was first released on DVD in North America on October 12 2004, in both widescreen and full screen versions. It also had a limited VHS release with a full screen format.
  • A 2-disc "collector's edition" containing production featurettes, two documentaries: a "behind-the-scenes" and another called "The Forces of Destiny", as well as storyboards and concept sketches were also included. It was released on May 24 2005.
  • It was released in high-definition video on Blu-ray Disc in North America on October 2 2007, and United Kingdom on April 28 2008, in full 1080p with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track, however with few bonus features. The film made $110,000,000 in DVD sales, bringing its total film gross to $652,771,772.

See also


  2. Rotten Tomatoes: The Day after Tomorrow (2004)
  3. The Guardian:A hard rain's a-gonna fall
  4. USA Today: 'Day After Tomorrow': A lot of hot air
  5. { } There Will Be A Day After Tomorrow. Space Daily, May 27, 2004.
  6. " Top 10 Scientifically Inaccurate Movies", Yahoo! Movies, July 23, 2008
  7. " Disaster Flick Exaggerates Speed Of Ice Age", ScienceDaily, May 13, 2004
  8. Box Office Mojo
  9. 'The Day After Tomorrow' heats up a political debate by Scott Bowles, USA Today, May 26, 2004. (retrieved on January 12, 2009).

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