2012 is a science fiction disaster film, directed by Roland Emmerich and released in 2009. The film stars John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Thomas McCarthy, Oliver Platt, Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, and Woody Harrelson. It was distributed by Columbia Pictures. Filming began in August 2008 in Vancouver. The film briefly references Mayanism, the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, and the 2012 phenomenon in its portrayal of cataclysmic events unfolding in 2012.

The film was promoted in a marketing campaign by a fictional organization, the "Institute for Human Continuity"; this entailed a fictitious book written by Jackson Curtis titled Farewell Atlantis, and streaming media, blog updates and radio broadcasts from the apocalyptic zealot Charlie Frost at his website This Is The End. This campaign was subjected to numerous criticisms, and was regarded as a form of viral marketing.

The film received mixed reviews from film critics, but topped the international box office in its first weekend with $225 million. It ultimately grossed over $769 million worldwide, becoming Roland Emmerich's second highest grossing film, behind Independence Day.

The film is Emmerich's first feature film to be shot using high-definition video cameras, specifically the Panavision Genesis.


In 2009, Dr. Adrian Helmsley, an American geologist visits astrophysicist Dr. Satnam Tsurutani in India and learns that neutrinos from a massive solar flare are causing the temperature of the Earth's core to increase rapidly. Adrian informs White House Chief of Staff Carl Anheuser and United States President Thomas Wilson that this will trigger a catastrophic chain of natural disasters. In 2010, Wilson, along with other international leaders, begins a massive, secret project intended to ensure that humanity survives. Approximately 400,000 people are chosen to board ships called "arks" that are constructed at Cho Ming, Tibet in the Himalayas. Additional funding for the project is raised by selling tickets to the private sector for €1 billion per person. By 2011, they start to secretly move humanity's valuable treasures to the Himalayas under the guise of protecting them from terrorist attacks, so that their history can survive when the end comes.

In 2012, Jackson Curtis is a science fiction writer in Los Angeles who works part-time as a limousine driver for Russian billionaire Yuri Karpov. Jackson's ex-wife Kate and their children Noah and Lily live with Kate's boyfriend, plastic surgeon and amateur pilot, Gordon Silberman. Jackson takes Noah and Lily camping in Yellowstone National Park, where they meet Charlie Frost, who hosts a radio show from the park. Charlie references a theory that suggests the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar predicts that the 2012 phenomenon is going to occur. He has a map of the ark project in addition to information of government officials and scientists from around the world who were murdered after discovering information about the ark project and trying to alert the general public. The family returns home as seismic activity vastly increases along the US West Coast. Jackson grows suspicious and rents a plane to rescue his family. He collects his family and Gordon as the Earth crust displacement begins, and they narrowly escape Los Angeles using a Cessna 340 as the city sinks into the Pacific Ocean.

As millions die in cataclysmic earthquakes worldwide, the group flies to Yellowstone to retrieve Charlie's map, escaping as the Yellowstone Caldera erupts. Remaining at his site to broadcast the eruption, Charlie is killed in the blast. Learning the arks are in China, the group lands in Las Vegas, which has a huge fissure running through the airport's runway. Here, they meet Yuri, his twin sons, girlfriend Tamara and pilot Sasha. The group secures the Antonov 225 aircraft and departs for China. Also heading for the arks aboard Air Force One are Anheuser, Hemsley, and First Daughter Laura Wilson. President Wilson chooses to remain in Washington D.C. and is soon killed by a megatsunami which sends the USS John F. Kennedy crashing into the White House. With the Vice President also dead and the Speaker of the House missing, Anheuser assumes de facto leadership of the United States of America, although he is not in the line of succession.

Arriving in China in a crash landing that kills Sasha, the group is then spotted by the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Yuri and his sons, possessing tickets, are taken to the arks. The Curtis family, Gordon, and Tamara, none of whom possess tickets, are picked up by Nima, a Buddhist monk on his way to the arks. They stowaway with the help of Nima's brother, Tenzin, who has been working on the ark project. A megatsunami approaches the site as tens of thousands of people are attempting to board the final ark, when a large impact driver becomes lodged between the gears of the ark's hydraulics chamber, preventing a boarding gate from closing and rendering the ship unable to start its engines. In the ensuing chaos, Yuri, Gordon and Tamara are killed, Tenzin is wounded and the flooding ark is set adrift. Jackson and Noah free the impact driver from the closing mechanism, and the crew regains control of the ark, preventing a fatal collision with Mount Everest.

One month later, after floodwaters from the tsunamis have receded, three arks set sail for the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, where the Drakensberg Mountains have risen in relation to sea level. Jackson reconciles with his family and Adrian starts a relationship with Laura. The Earth is shown from space, revealing a radically changed continental landscape.


The credits cite the bestselling non-fiction book Fingerprints of the Gods by author Graham Hancock as inspiration for the film, and in an interview with the London magazine Time Out Emmerich states: "I always wanted to do a biblical flood movie, but I never felt I had the hook. I first read about the Earth's Crust Displacement Theory in Graham Hancock's Fingerprints of the Gods."

Director Emmerich and composer-producer Harald Kloser had an extremely close relationship and also co-wrote a spec script titled 2012, which was marketed to major studios in February 2008. Nearly all studios met with Emmerich and his representatives to hear the director's budget projection and story plans, a process that the director had previously gone through with the films Independence Day (1996) and The Day After Tomorrow (2004). Later that month, Sony Pictures Entertainment won the rights for the spec script, planning to distribute it under Columbia Pictures and to make it for less than the estimated budget. According to Emmerich, the film was eventually produced for about $200 million.

Filming was originally scheduled to begin in Los Angeles, California, in July 2008, but instead commenced in Vancouver in August 2008 and concluded in January 2009. Due to the possible 2008 Screen Actors Guild strike, filmmakers set up a contingency plan for salvaging the film. Uncharted Territory, Digital Domain, Double Negative, Scanline, Sony Pictures Imageworks and others were hired to create computer animated visual effects for 2012. Thomas Wander co-wrote the score with Harald Kloser.

Although the film depicts the destruction of several major cultural and historical icons around the world, Emmerich stated that the Kaaba was also considered for selection. Kloser stated he had reservations over Mecca, but declined in saying he did not want a fatwā issued against him.


  • John Cusack as Jackson Curtis, a struggling science fiction novelist who occasionally works as a limousine driver[4]
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor as Dr. Adrian Helmsley, geologist and scientific advisor to the President of the USA[5]
  • Amanda Peet as Kate Curtis, a medical student and Jackson's ex-wife[6]
  • Liam James as Noah Curtis, Jackson and Kate's son
  • Morgan Lily as Lilly Curtis, Jackson and Kate's daughter
  • Thomas McCarthy as Dr. Gordon Silberman, Kate's current boyfriend, a plastic surgeon [7]
  • Danny Glover as Thomas Wilson, the President of the United States.[8]
  • Thandie Newton as Dr. Laura Wilson, President Wilson's daughter[8]
  • Oliver Platt as Carl Anheuser, the President's Chief of Staff[8]
  • Zlatko Burić as Yuri Karpov, a Russian billionaire
  • Beatrice Rosen as Tamara, Yuri's Russian girlfriend
  • Alexandre Haussmann as Alec Karpov, one of Yuri's sons
  • Philippe Haussmann as Oleg Karpov, Alec's twin brother
  • Woody Harrelson as Charlie Frost, a scientist disguised as a Yellowstone hermit who explains the Mayan 2012 legends to Jackson Curtis
  • Chin Han as Tenzin, a worker in Tibet
  • Osric Chau as Nima, a Buddhist monk and Tenzin's brother
  • Lisa Lu as Grandma Sonam, Nima and Tenzin's grandmother.
  • John Billingsley as Professor Frederic West, an American scientist
  • Johann Urb as Sasha, a Russian pilot and Tamara's lover
  • Blu Mankuma as Harry Helmsley, Adrian's father and Tony's musical partner
  • George Segal as Tony Delgatto, an elderly traveling musician and Harry's musical partner
  • Jimi Mistry as Dr. Satnam Tsurutani, an Indian scientist who helps discover the events that are to come in India
  • Stephen McHattie as Captain Michaels, the captain of the ark


On November 12, 2008, the new studio released the first teaser trailer for 2012 that showed a tsunami surging over the Himalayas and interlaced a purportedly scientific message suggesting that the world would end in 2012, and that the world's governments were not preparing its population for the event. The trailer ended with a message to viewers to "find out the truth" by searching "2012" on search engines. The Guardian criticized the marketing effectiveness as "deeply flawed" and associated it with "websites that make even more spurious claims about 2012".

The studio also launched a viral marketing website operated by the fictional Institute for Human Continuity, where filmgoers could register for a lottery number to be part of a small population that would be rescued from the global destruction. David Morrison of NASA received over 1000 inquiries from people who thought the website was genuine, and condemned it. "I've even had cases of teenagers writing to me saying they are contemplating suicide because they don't want to see the world end," he said. "I think when you lie on the internet and scare children to make a buck, that is ethically wrong." Another viral marketing website promotes Farewell Atlantis, a fictional suspense novel by the film's lead protagonist, about the events of 2012.

Comcast had also organized a "roadblock campaign" to promote the film, where a two-minute scene from the film was broadcast across 450 American commercial television networks, local English and Spanish language stations, and 89 cable outlets within a ten-minute window between 10:50 PM EDT/PDT and 11:00 PM EDT/PDT on October 1, 2009. The scene featured the destruction of Los Angeles and ended with a cliffhanger, with the entire 5-minute-38-second clip made available on Comcast's Fancast web site. The trade newspaper Variety estimated that, "The stunt will put the footage in front of 90% of all households watching ad-supported TV, or nearly 110 million viewers. When combined with online and mobile streams, that could increase to more than 140 million".


2012 was originally scheduled to be released on July 10, 2009. The release date was changed to November 2008 to move out of the busy summer schedule into a time frame that the studio considered to have more potential for financial success. According to the studio, the film could have been completed for the summer release date, but the date change would give more time to the production. The film was released on November 11, 2008. It was released on Friday November 13, 2008 in Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Mexico and the United States, and was released on November 21, 2008 in Japan. It was given a wide release in India on November 13, 2008. In the United Kingdom where it was released on Friday November 13, 2008, two cinemas had a screening time of 8:12pm (20:12 on a 24 hour clock) to coincide with the film's title. Twenty theaters in the United Arab Emirates also screened the movie at 8:12pm.

The DVD and Blu-ray for 2012 were released on March 2, 2010. The 2-Disc Blu-ray Edition includes over 90 minutes of special features, including Adam Lambert's music video Time for Miracles, and a Digital Copy for PSP, PC, Mac & iPod. The European release date of 2012 on DVD was March 26, 2010; it includes the same special features as the North American version.

DVD & Blu-ray alternate endingEdit

Adrian gets a call from his dad, Harry, who miraculously survived the wave that hit their ship along with his musician partner, Tony, and Adrian says that they will come rescue them. On the ark's deck, Jackson and Noah start bonding again when Lilly spots a ravaged cruise ship on a pile of rocks next to a small island, and the film ends as the three arks approach it.


Box officeEdit

2012 opened at number one with an estimated $65 million on its first weekend, and with $225 million at the worldwide box office in its opening weekend. The film has grossed $166 million in the United States and Canada markets and $602.3 million in international markets, for a worldwide total of $767,918,347, making it the 5th–highest grossing film of 2009 and the 32nd-highest grossing film of all time worldwide. It surpasses Emmerich's previous disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, which grossed $544.4 million worldwide.

Critical responseEdit

The film received mixed reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 39% of 2012 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 5.1 out of 10. Among the site's notable critics, 26% gave the film a positive write-up, based on a sample of 34. The site's consensus is that "Roland Emmerich's 2012 provides plenty of visual thrills, but lacks a strong enough script to support its massive scope and inflated length." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 1–100 reviews from film critics has a rating score of 49 based on 34 reviews.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone criticized the film by comparing it to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: "Beware 2012, which works the dubious miracle of almost matching Transformers 2 for sheer, cynical, mind-numbing, time-wasting, money-draining, soul-sucking stupidity." Roger Ebert was enthusiastic about the film, giving it 3½ stars out of 4, saying it "delivers what it promises, and since no sentient being will buy a ticket expecting anything else, it will be, for its audiences, one of the most satisfactory films of the year". Both Ebert and Claudia Puig of USA Today called the film the "mother of all disaster movies".

Shave Magazine said "2012 is another end-of-world movie which touts the usual message: even if nature takes over to wipe us out, humanity shall prevail." The film was ranked 3/5 stars.

North Korean BanEdit

North Korea has reportedly banned possession or viewing of the film. The year 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of the nation's founder, Kim Il Sung, and has been designated by the North Korean government as "the year for opening the grand gates to becoming a rising superpower". Thus, a movie which depicts the year in a negative light is found to be offensive by the North Korean government. Several people in North Korea have reportedly been arrested for possessing or viewing pirated copies of the movie and charged with "grave provocation against the development of the state."

Television spin-offEdit

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Emmerich confirmed that a television series based upon the film was in the works after the film was complete. The series was tentatively titled 2013, and would have served as a follow-up to the film.

Emmerich stated in the interview, "The plan is that it is 2013 and it's about what happens after the disaster. It is about the resettling of Earth. That is very, very fascinating. Harald Kloser and I came up with the idea and we have the luxury of having a producer on the film who is a big TV producer, Mark Gordon. We said to Mark, 'Why don't you do a TV show that picks up where the movie leaves off and call it 2013?' I think it will focus on a group of people who survived but not on the boats ... maybe they were on a piece of land that was spared or one that became an island in the process of the crust moving. There are so many possibilities of what they could do and I'd be excited to watch it."

On March 2, 2010, it was announced that ABC decided to pass on the television spin-off of the film.

2013 Is To Error Year