Moonfall (film)

Moonfall is a 2022 science fiction disaster film co-written, directed, and produced by Roland Emmerich. It stars Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Michael Peña, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, and Donald Sutherland. It follows two former astronauts alongside a conspiracy theorist who discover the hidden truth about Earth's moon when it suddenly leaves its orbit. Shot in Montreal on a $138–146 million budget, it is one of the most expensive independently produced films ever made.

Moonfall
Three American astronauts floating in space look towards the moon.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoland Emmerich
Written by
Produced by
  • Roland Emmerich
  • Harald Kloser
Starring
CinematographyRobby Baumgartner
Edited by
  • Adam Wolfe
  • Ryan Stevens Harris
Music by
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release dates
  • January 31, 2022 (2022-01-31) (Los Angeles)
  • February 4, 2022 (2022-02-04) (United States and United Kingdom)
  • March 25, 2022 (2022-03-25) (China)
Running time
130 minutes[1]
Countries
  • Germany
  • United States
  • China
  • United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$138–146 million
Box office$66.8 million[2][3]

The film was theatrically released in the United States on February 4, 2022, by Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment, and in the United Kingdom on the same day by Entertainment Film Distributors. It became one of the largest box-office bombs of all time, grossing only $66 million worldwide. It received generally mixed reviews from critics.

PlotEdit

In 2011, astronauts Brian Harper, Jocinda "Jo" Fowler, and newcomer Marcus are on a Space Shuttle mission to repair a satellite. A mysterious swarm of alien technology attacks the orbiter, killing Marcus and knocking Jo unconscious before tunneling into the surface of the Moon. Brian, the only witness to the swarm, returns the crippled shuttle to Earth, but his story is dismissed and he is fired from NASA.

Ten years later, conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman, who believes the Moon is an artificial megastructure, secretly uses time on a research telescope. He discovers the Moon's orbit is veering closer to Earth, and tries to share his findings with the disgraced Brian. NASA also discovers the anomaly, but K.C. goes public on social media, leading to global panic. Jo is now NASA's deputy director, launching a spacecraft on an SLS Block 1 rocket to investigate the abnormality. The same alien swarm attacks, killing all three lunar astronauts after they drop a probe into a kilometers-deep artificial shaft that has opened up on the Moon's surface.

As lunar orbit deteriorates, the Moon falls closer and closer to Earth, causing seismic and gravitational disturbances. Jo meets former NASA official Holdenfield, who reveals that Brian was discredited due to a NASA coverup dating back to Apollo 11; during the first moon landing, a two-minute radio blackout was meant to conceal evidence of pulsating lights on the surface. Apollo 12 also revealed that the Moon is hollow, and a military EMP device created to kill the swarm was abandoned for budgetary reasons.

With help from her ex-husband General Doug Davidson, Air Force Chief of Staff, Jo requisitions the EMP and rescues retired Space Shuttle Endeavour from a museum to serve the new mission: to correct the Moon's orbit and destroy the swarm. Brian, K.C., and Jo launch with the EMP, narrowly escaping to orbit as a tsunami destroys Vandenberg Air Force Base.

They reach the interior of the Moon, revealed to be a Dyson sphere powered by a white dwarf at its center. The Dyson sphere's AI operating system explains to Brian that billions of years ago, humanity's technologically advanced ancestors were eradicated by a rogue AI; they built the Moon as a Interstellar ark to create and seed life on Earth, but the swarm — one of the malicious AIs — discovered the Moon and is siphoning energy from its power source, destabilizing its orbit.

Meanwhile, Brian's son Sonny, Jo's son Jimmy, and his caretaker Michelle try to reach Doug's military bunker in the Colorado mountains, finding Brian's ex-wife and Sonny's mother Brenda, her husband Tom, and their step-family. Escaping disasters caused by the Moon's proximity and fighting off other survivors, the group finds safety in a mountain tunnel. When his youngest daughter runs out of oxygen, an injured Tom gives her his own, suffocating to death as the Moon strips away the localized atmosphere. The President of the United States orders a nuclear strike on the approaching Moon, but Doug refuses to comply with debris collapsing the bunker shortly thereafter, presumably killing Doug and everyone inside.

As the swarm only attacks organic life in the presence of electronic activity, K.C. lures the swarm away from their spacecraft with their lunar module, sacrificing himself to detonate the EMP. Jo and Brian return to Earth, reuniting with their families, and the Moon's power is restored, returning to its regular orbit, but now shed of its rocky exterior. Reconstructing K.C.'s consciousness, the Moon's operating system appears to him as his cat, Fuzz Aldrin, and his mother, remarking that they must now "get started".

CastEdit

Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson play former NASA astronauts Jocinda Fowler and Brian Harper.
  • Halle Berry as Jocinda "Jo" Fowler, a former NASA astronaut now serving as deputy director of NASA and Brian Harper's colleague who once flew together on a Space Shuttle Endeavour mission
  • Patrick Wilson as Brian Harper, a disgraced former NASA astronaut and Jo's colleague who flew on a Space Shuttle Endeavour mission
  • John Bradley as K.C. Houseman, an amateur researcher, who finds out about the Moon being artificial and also discovers the incoming Moon impact towards Earth following his contact with an official from an observatory in Chile.
  • Michael Peña as Tom Lopez, Brenda's husband
  • Charlie Plummer as Sonny Harper, Brian and Brenda's estranged son who was arrested for speeding. Plummer and Dalman additionally portray the manifestation of the Moon's alien operating system as it appears to Brian Harper.
    • Azriel Dalman as young Sonny Harper
  • Kelly Yu as Michelle, a Chinese foreign exchange student who is also the nanny to Jo's son Jimmy.
  • Donald Sutherland as Holdenfield, a former NASA official who found out about the dark-side of the Moon mystery that occurred during Apollo 11 mission.
  • Eme Ikwuakor as General Doug Davidson, a United States Air Force Four-Star General who served as Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force and deputy director, as well as Fowler's ex-husband.
  • Carolina Bartczak as Brenda Harper, Brian's ex-wife and Sonny's mother, who currently lives with her new husband Tom.
  • Maxim Roy as Gabriella Auclair, a military captain who leads the task-force mission to rescue Brian and Houseman.
  • Frank Schorpion as General Jenkins, a United States Air Force Four-Star General who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was tasked by the President of the United States to launch a nuclear strike at the Moon.
  • Stephen Bogaert as Albert Hutchings, NASA's Director who turns over his position to Fowler at the last minute before the Moon's impact.
  • Andreas Apergis as Lieutenant Colonel Reed, a soldier tasked to deliver an EMP that was to be detonated on the Moon.
  • Kathleen Fee as Mrs. Elaine Houseman, Houseman's mother who lives at a nursing home and suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

ProductionEdit

 
Writer, director, and producer Roland Emmerich

In May 2019, Roland Emmerich was announced to be writing and directing the film.[4] With a $138–146 million budget (including $40 million from Huayi Brothers, $15 million from Lionsgate Films, and $15 million from Germany),[5] it is one of the most expensive independent films ever produced.[6][7] Emmerich said the project had previously been bought by Universal Pictures, and once he got the rights back, Emmerich and partner Harald Kloser went to the Cannes Film Festival to get financial backers, with the independent nature helping Emmerich get creative control and a 50% share of the film.[8] The idea came after reading Christopher Knight and Alan Butler's book Who Built the Moon?, which debated about the hollow moon hypothesis, a conspiracy theory about the Moon being an artificial construction, and the script was worked on for four years.[9] In November 2019, Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment acquired the North American distribution rights, and AGC International acquired the international distribution rights.[10]

In May 2020, Josh Gad and Halle Berry were cast,[11][12] with Patrick Wilson and Charlie Plummer added in June.[13] In October, Stanley Tucci, John Bradley, Donald Sutherland and Eme Ikwuakor were added to the cast, with Bradley replacing Gad due to scheduling conflicts.[14]

Filming began in Montreal in October 2020,[15] after previously being planned for a spring start,[16][17] and lasted for a total of 61 days.[18] Michael Peña, Carolina Bartczak, Maxim Roy and Stephen Bogaert were added in January 2021, with Peña replacing Tucci in his role due to COVID-19 travel restrictions preventing Tucci from traveling to the production.[19] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film had to speed up its principal photography with an additional $5.6 million spent.[18] Among the pandemic's restrictions were a lack of location shooting, forcing the construction of 135 different sets, built primarily on six stages on Grandé Studios. A museum in Florida contributed an original Space Shuttle cockpit, and NASA provided various data regarding the spacecraft.[9]

1,700 visual effects shots were done for Moonfall, primarily handled by four companies, Scanline VFX, Pixomondo, DNEG and Framestore. Scanline was involved as early as a teaser done during the production of Midway for the Cannes pitch, a shot of the Moon coming up behind the Earth that ended up in the finished film.[20]

ReleaseEdit

The film held a premiere in Los Angeles on January 31, 2022.[21] It was released theatrically in the United States on February 4, 2022. It was previously scheduled to be released on October 22, 2021.[22] Despite having been advertised in 2021, the film's theatrical release in Canada was canceled because the local distributor, Mongrel Media, found it too risky to go forward with the release and spend the amount of money required on advertising when it was uncertain whether theaters in Ontario and Quebec, which account for a majority of film sales in the country and were shut down due to the pandemic, would be open in time.[23] The film was released in China on March 25, 2022.[24]

Lionsgate spent approximately $35 million in promotions and advertisements, including $12.2 million on TV ads. Social media monitor RelishMix said online reactions were "mixed to negative" while "awareness stats" were below average. The film had a social media reach of 88.9 million interactions (including 51.1 million views on YouTube) from 31 videos shared online, which featured brand deals with Omega SA and Lexus. RelishMix also said "traction ran thin" and that online audiences "questioned the use of the Space Shuttle which has been out of commission since 2011 and chatted about rumors that the movie was heading straight to Netflix", while Emmerich was drawing backlash "for 'hating the earth'".[5]

The film was released for VOD platforms on April 1, 2022, followed by a Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K UHD release on April 26, 2022 by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.[25]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

As of June 5, 2022, Moonfall has grossed $19.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $40 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $59.1 million.[3]

In the United States, Moonfall was released alongside Jackass Forever, and was projected to gross $8–11 million from 3,446 theaters in its opening weekend,[26] with Boxoffice Pro predicting a $9–14 million three-day debut.[27] The film earned $3.4 million on its first day,[28] including an estimated $700,000 from Thursday night previews. Around 300 theaters were closed on Thursday due to a winter storm impacting most of the Midwestern United States. It went on to gross $9.9 million in its opening weekend, finishing second.[5][29] The film suffered a 70% decline in its second weekend after earning $2.9 million.[30] Moonfall dropped out of the box office top ten in its third weekend with $1.1 million.[31]

Outside the U.S. and Canada, the film grossed an estimated $9.37 million overseas in its opening weekend.[32] It made $9.7 million in its first weekend in China, debuting at the first position by displacing The Batman.[33] The film released in the country when a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic forced more than half of theaters to close.[34] It retained its position during the following weekend with a gross of $3.2 million.[35] In the third weekend it fell to the fourth place while grossing $900,000.[36]

Critical responseEdit

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 36% of 212 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 4.40/10. The website's consensus reads, "Whether Moonfall is so bad it's good or simply bad will depend on your tolerance for B-movie cheese – but either way, this is an Emmerich disaster thriller through and through."[37] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 41 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[38] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it a 66% positive score, with 49% saying they would definitely recommend it.[5]

FutureEdit

In January 2022, Emmerich spoke about the possibility of filming two sequels back-to-back if the first film was a success.[8] The following month, star John Bradley said that "if Roland goes down the direction that he wants to", the sequels would be "even more batshit crazy than the first".[39]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Moonfall (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  2. ^ "Moonfall". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Moonfall". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  4. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (May 7, 2019). "Cannes Biggie: Roland Emmerich, AGC Studios & CAA Media Finance Launch $150M Sci-Fi Moonfall". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 11, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ a b c d D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 6, 2022). "How Jackass Forever Thrived In The TikTok Era With A $23M+ Opening & Moonfall Fell Out Of Orbit At The Weekend Box Office – Sunday Postmortem". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 6, 2022.
  6. ^ McClintock, Pamela (February 4, 2022). "Box Office: Jackass Forever Laughs Hard With $1.7M in Previews". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  7. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (February 16, 2021). "Roland Emmerich On Making $140M Sci-Fi Moonfall Amid The Pandemic: 'It Was A Miracle This Movie Happened At All'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  8. ^ a b "Roland Emmerich, Master of Disaster, Returns to Big-Screen Cataclysms With Moonfall". The Hollywood Reporter. January 27, 2022. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  9. ^ a b CAPTURING A COLOSSAL CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE LUNAR KIND IN MOONFALL - VFX Voice Magazine
  10. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (November 26, 2019). "Lionsgate Picks Up Moonfall Sci-Fi From Midway Helmer Roland Emmerich". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (May 12, 2020). "Josh Gad to Star in Roland Emmerich's Disaster Thriller Moonfall". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  12. ^ Kit, Borys (May 19, 2020). "Halle Berry to Star in Roland Emmerich's Sci-Fi Movie Moonfall (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  13. ^ Kit, Borys (June 12, 2020). "Patrick Wilson to Star in Roland Emmerich's Sci-Fi Thriller Moonfall (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  14. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (October 13, 2020). "Stanley Tucci & Game of Thrones Alum John Bradley Join Roland Emmerich's Moonfall Space Epic For Lionsgate". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  15. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (May 19, 2020). "Halle Berry Joins Roland Emmerich's Moonfall Sci-Fi At Lionsgate". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  16. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (January 16, 2020). "Roland Emmerich's Sci-Fi Moonfall Gets China Distribution & Funding From Huayi, Production Lined Up For Spring". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  17. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (October 26, 2020). "Moonfall: Donald Sutherland, Eme Ikwuakor & Financier SPG3 Join $100M+ Roland Emmerich Sci-Fi Movie, Shoot Underway In Montreal". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Jirak, Jamie (January 17, 2022). "Moonfall Director Roland Emmerich Opens Up About Casting and Working During the Pandemic". Comicbook.com. Retrieved January 17, 2022.
  19. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (January 12, 2021). "Michael Peña Replaces Stanley Tucci In Roland Emmerich's Moonfall, Carolina Bartczak, Maxim Roy & Stephen Bogaert Also Join Lionsgate Sci-Fi Epic". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  20. ^ How Visual Effects Pros Created Catastrophic Events in ‘Moonfall’
  21. ^ "Stars Attend The World Premiere Of Lionsgate's Moonfall". BeautifulBallad. February 1, 2022. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  22. ^ Hipes, Patrick (May 26, 2021). "Roland Emmerich's Moonfall Finally Lands A Release Date". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  23. ^ Hertz, Barry (February 2, 2022). "Inside the mystery of the missing Moonfall, the biggest movie to ever bypass Canadian audiences". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  24. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (March 8, 2022). "Roland Emmerich's Moonfall Set For China Landing This Month". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  25. ^ "Moonfall DVD Release Date". www.dvdsreleasedates.com. Retrieved November 23, 2022.
  26. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 1, 2022). "Jackass Forever To Punk Disaster Pic Moonfall As Winter Box Office Tries To Thaw Out – Weekend Preview". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  27. ^ Robbins, Shawn (February 2, 2022). "Weekend Box Office Forecast: Jackass Forever and Moonfall Aim to Kickstart a February Turnaround for Exhibition". Boxoffice Pro. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  28. ^ "Domestic Box Office For Feb 4, 2022". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  29. ^ "Domestic 2022 Weekend 5". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  30. ^ "Domestic 2022 Weekend 6". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  31. ^ "Domestic 2022 Weekend 7". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  32. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (February 6, 2022). "Chinese New Year Movies Miss Market Record; Spider-Man Wings To $1.77B Global & Sing 2 Nears $300M WW – International Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  33. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (March 29, 2022). "RRR Roars With $60M+ WW Debut; The Batman Rises To $673M Global; Lost City Finds Strong Early Start – International Box Office Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  34. ^ Rui, Zhang (March 27, 2022). "Sci-fi disaster film Moonfall hits China amid pandemic". China Internet Information Center. Retrieved April 11, 2022.
  35. ^ Frater, Patrick (April 3, 2022). "China Box Office Crumbles as Coronavirus Lockdowns Bite". Variety. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  36. ^ Frater, Patrick (April 10, 2022). "China Box Office: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Wins on COVID-Stricken Weekend". Variety. Retrieved April 11, 2022.
  37. ^ "Moonfall". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  38. ^ "Moonfall". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  39. ^ Hibberd, James (February 5, 2022). "Moonfall Actor John Bradley Explains That Wild Ending". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 5, 2022.

External linksEdit