For many of us, movies offer a temporary reprieve. They're a chance to take a two-hour (or more, these days) break from what increasingly seems like the howling descent into the abyss that has become life in 2017.
That said, the upcoming movie Geostorm might seem an odd choice for relaxation, especially in Houston. Roll that plot summary:
When catastrophic climate change endangers Earth's very survival, world governments unite and create the Dutch Boy Program: a world wide net of satellites, surrounding the planet, that are armed with geoengineering technologies designed to stave off the natural disasters. After successfully protecting the planet for two years, something is starting to go wrong. Two estranged brothers are tasked with solving the program's malfunction before a world wide GEOSTORM can engulf the planet.
Emphasis added for "geostorm" because if any word in that paragraph screamed out for ALL-CAPs, that was it.
And just to be clear, Geostorm is still opening in Houston this weekend, meaning: a) Warner Bros. thinks local members of the film press and those Houstonians inclined to enter contests to see a preview screening are too sensitive to handle the terrifying spectacle of Gerard Butler's acting; or b) the studio never intended to show this dog to the media and is using Hurricane Harvey as a cheap excuse to keep it from being seen in certain markets.
Admittedly, my conspiracy theory doesn't really hold up, since Geostorm was still being screened in advance just about everywhere else in the country last night. WB has stopped just short of the dreaded Thursday-night promo event, often deployed to prevent widespread reviews prior to opening weekend, but they're still (finally*) putting the movie out there.
Delays in a movie's release are hardly new, especially from current events. The Colin Farrell thriller Phone Booth was postponed six months due to the Beltway Sniper attacks, while Jack Reacher was briefly held back after the Sandy Hook Massacre. Meanwhile, the 9-11 attacks caused release delays for no fewer than five movies (View From the Top, Collateral Damage, Time Machine, Big Trouble, and Bad Company), none of which would have really been missed, honestly.
But Warner Bros. obviously isn't concerned about nationwide trauma from Harvey's flooding, otherwise they wouldn't have held promo screenings in Florida (they did). Similarly, there's no word on whether Sony withheld screenings of Only the Brave from certain markets in Northern California. I'll admit, this is personal to me as both a Houstonian and a devotee of disaster porn. I've had an abiding appreciation for movies about volcanoes, meteors, and volcanic meteors since the 1970s heyday of Irwin Allen. So all I ask is that studios show similar sensitivity for other metropolitan areas with regard to future releases. For example:
Movie: Thor: Ragnarok (November 3)
Plot: Norse god Thor must prevent end of civilization, grow hair back.
Possibly Traumatized Population: Scandinavians who might be regretting those suspiciously affordable condos in the shadow of Bifrost.
Movie: Justice League (November 17)
Plot: Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest must defend Earth from the forces of Steppenwolf.
Possibly Traumatized Population: '60s casualties who suffer flashbacks hearing "Born to be Wild."
Movie: The Commuter (January 12)
Plot: Insurance salesman is lured by fellow train passenger into a sinister conspiracy.
Possibly Traumatized Population: City dwellers justifiably terrified of someone striking up a conversation with them on public transit.
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Movie: Maze Runner: The Death Cure (November 3)
Plot: "Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers into the legendary Last City, a WCKD-controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all."
Possibly Traumatized Population: People who speak English.
Movie: The Hurricane Heist (February 9)
Plot: Thieves target a coastal U.S. Mint facility on the eve of a Category 5 hurricane landfall.
Possibly Traumatized Population: Moviegoers who suffer flashbacks from Hard Rain.
* Geostorm's original release date was March 25, 2016, it was then moved to October 21, 2016, then January 13, 2017. Finally, the studio announced the release as October 20, 2017. How's that for a vote of confidence?