2012 The Movie
The Roland Emmerich movie "2012" is a work of fiction

Is This The End?
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Only in the Movies!

The Movie

In another example of Hollywood cashing in on unsubstantiated rumors (as it routinely does with disaster films), German producer and director Roland Emmerich1 co-wrote a script based on the 2012 doomsday rumor. 2012 stars John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, and Oliver Platt2

Emmerich's Films

A general consensus amongst critics is that Emmerich's films rely too heavily on visual effects, and suffer from clichéd dialogue, flimsy and formulaic narrative, scientific and historical inaccuracies, illogical plot development, and lack of character depth.3. Emmerich himself states that is a "filmmaker, not a scientist"4. We suppose that he feels that this releases him from any culpability arising from the 2012 hysteria.

Errors already?

It's pretty bad when a movie depends upon a cultural movement for its plot, and then gets the very basis of that movement wrong. In one of its two trailers, the movie makes a major set of errors. At the beginning of the trailer it says "Mankind's earliest civilization…" and then pans across a mesoamerican pyramid, then flashes back to text "… warned us". This clearly refers to the so called "Mayan prophecy".

Sorry, Sony. The meso-american cultures are not "mankind's earliest civilization". At this point5, that distinction probably belongs to the civilization that built the settlement of Catal Huyuk6 in what is now Eastern Turkey. This settlement dates back to approximately 7500 BC, had a population of at least 6000 and also a highly developed culture.

The second point here is that the Maya did not "warn us". The Mayan literature and inscriptions are silent about 2012. There is no Mayan Prediction!

Cashing in

The movie cashed in on 2012 Millenarianism7 through its use of google in the trailer. It hoped to snare viewers by leveraging the pre-existing fear present in society. Of course, it was in their best interest to then build up that fear as much as possible prior to the release date.


The Institute for Human Continuity was a viral marketing ploy used by Sony Pictures to promote the movie. This is how Sony Pictures and Roland Emmerich not only profited from the 2012 hysteria, but actively made it worse. The IHC commercials were designed to appear to be legitimate commercials. The hints that they were marketing the movie were not obvious, and the IHC website was also designed to appear to be legitimate, at least at first glance.

We question the wisdom of using the pre-existing 2012 hysteria to promote the movie. It appears that Sony Pictures and Roland Emmerich did not care if people were frightened, they only wanted to sell tickets.

"Novel Promotion"

It was revealed that Sony Pictures Inc. was going to spend an unprecedented $4 Million US to air a 2 minute segment of the movie on almost every major North American network and cable channel on Oct. 1, 2009 between 10:50 and 11:00 P.M. ET/PT8. The two-minute scene ends in a cliffhanger, with audience watchers having the opportunity to see the conclusion on fanfast.com and Comcast on Demand.

This represents a unique and first-of-its-kind promotion scheme, in addition to the attempt to cash-in on 2012 hysteria by asking viewers of the trailer to 'Search 2012' on the internet9.

Critical Reviews

Stephen Colbert

On Thursday Aug 6, 2009 Stephen Colbert described the movie "2012" as the "one bright spot this summer", because the movie poster says "The Mayans warned us." Stephen says, "assuming they warned us that one day computer graphics would strip movies of any plot or characterization and turn them into mindless orgies of destruction porn."10

Later, when the trailer shows Brazil being destroyed, he says, "God is finally getting his revenge for their blasphemous waxing techniques".


2012 is a work of fiction, based on a very real cultural hysteria. Unfortunately Sony Pictures and Roland Emmerich have chosen to market a movie in a way that builds up and then capitalizes on fear.

1. Sony Pictures. 2009. Official 2012 movie website. whowillsurvive2012.com http://www.whowillsurvive2012.com/
3. The Internet Movie Database. 2009 2012 (2009/I) imdb.com http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1190080/
5. Rotten Tomatoes. 2004. "Godzilla (2004)". rottentomatoes.com. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/godzilla/
6. Rotten Tomatoes. 2008. "10,000 BC (2008)". rottentomatoes.com. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10000_bc/.
7. Rotten Tomatoes. 2000. "The Patriot (2000)". rottentomatoes.com. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1098149-patriot/.


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