Release Date: November 13, 2009
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You can tell which BOP web master did the photo by whether this is Cusack or Thandie.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
31/38 John Seal Utterly absurd disaster pic, but is there any other kind?
151/169 Max Braden Ridiculous, but not as bad as Knowing. The Yellowstone volcano scenes were pretty visually exciting.

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John Cusack is not in the habit of doing blockbuster action films. Even on the rare occasions when he does do big budget studio productions, his tastes are not in line with mainstream Hollywood. The obfuscating thespian is much more inclined to do psychological horror such as 1408 and Identity or one of the endless slew of romantic comedies he has been offered since he won the hearts of so many women in 1989’s Say Anthing… Cusack has not worked on a pure action movie since 1998’s Con Air, and given the combination of that title’s quality as well as the onus of having to put up with Nicolas Cage, it’s understandable why he might have lost his taste for the genre. Considering all of this, BOP is that much more surprised that the Artist Formerly Known as Lloyd Dobler’s next project is…a Roland Emmerich production. This is like the Pope signing on to do a benefit show with Sinéad O’Connor.

The obvious question is this. What aspect of Emmerich’s next project is so gripping that John Cusack is willing to make an exception and work on an action movie? And the answer lies in the apocalypse. In recent years, philosophers started taking note of an arcane series of predictions involving the Mayan calendar. In these writings, the end of the world was prophesied as occurring…in 2012. On December 21, 2012, the “Long Count” calendar used by Mayan culture for the past 5,126 years (!)…ends. Given the somewhat random date and the lack of round numbers involved anywhere in the process, it’s an unsettling situation. One has to wonder why people would go thousands of years into the future with their calendar then look at December 21, 2012 and say, “You know what, that’s far enough.” Gary Larson would have a field day with this sort of scenario.

Starting in 2006, a series of novels involving this troubling subject matter began attaining popularity with major book retailers. 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, an LSD junkie’s take (no, really) on evolving global consciousness, became a best seller. Soon afterward, an even more inflammatory evaluation of global events humorously entitled Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation into Civilization's End appeared on the scene. This muckraking treatise claiming proof of near-certain turbulent end-of-days events postured itself as a neutral evaluation of the scenario. In reality, it was a masterful marketing stratagem developed by author Lawrence E. Joseph that includes the incendiary web site, Apocalypse2012.com. There is very little stylistic difference between Joseph and any random homeless guy you see on the street holding up a “The end is nigh!” Joseph is much, much richer since he is better at marketing, though.

Given all the literary attention placed upon the subject matter, it is unsurprising that Hollywood has taken notice. Ironically, this is a chicken and the egg scenario as many people believe it was Mel Gibson’s announcement of the Apocalypto production that brought renewed investigation in the subject matter by novelists. While that $40 million project was only a $50.9 million performer domestically ($117.8 million worldwide), competing Hollywood tentpoles have now been greenlighted because of books inspired by that movie. Michael Bay’s announced 2012 title will be released in 2010, but Roland Emmerich has jumped the gun on the competition by slotting his release squarely in the summer of 2009. BOP guesses he wants to give us a full 18 months to pack and put our affairs in order before December 21, 2012 arrives.

Exactly what Emmerich has in mind here is the usual for him: catastrophes aplenty. Given that 2012 is the end of the world as we know it, everything is going to go wrong for mankind. Volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, typhoons, you name it. Anything that could wipe out a monument with cool CGI effects is in play here. The sky is the limit with a reported $200 million budget for this tentpole release. The good news is that even if he gets special effects crazy (and he will), Emmerich has enough acting talent on board to possibly redeem his work. BOP faves Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity), Amanda Peet (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip), Woody Harrelson (Councilman Woody Boyd) and Thandie Newton (The Truth about Charlie) have all signed on as have Danny Glover (he’s getting too old for this apocalypse), and Oliver Platt (Cusack’s buddy from The Ice Harvest).

2012 is expected to be one of the most successful projects of summer 2009. And, considering its $200 million budget, it had better be. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for 2012
Main Cast John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Supporting Cast Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Thomas McCarthy, Woody Harrelson, Chin Han, Morgan Lily
Director Roland Emmerich
Screenwriter Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Distributor Paramount
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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