Adam McKay’s new movie, Don’t Look Up, is about two astronomers (played by Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio) who try to warn mankind about an incoming comet that will destroy Earth. But what they find is no one cares. “There’s a 100 percent chance that we’re all going to die,” Lawrence’s character warns the public on a local news show before storming off the set, as seen in the trailer. Instead of anyone taking her seriously, she’s called a “yelling lady” by the overly cheery anchor, who also hits on DiCaprio.
It’s probably obvious, but Don’t Look Up is about climate change, which posed a dilemma for writer and director Adam McKay: how do you end a movie about something that has a “100 percent chance” of happening? Do you lean into the inevitable, or do you subvert expectations? In an interview with GQ, McKay explained his process.
“Someone asked me why I made the movie. And really, you could almost say it’s one simple reason, which is we’ve watched thousands and thousands of movies, whether they’re Marvel or action films or thrillers, and everything always works out in a nifty bow in the end, time after time, for decade after decade,” he said. “Clearly, [Don’t Look Up] is an analogy or an allegory for the climate crisis. And the idea that it doesn’t end with a nifty bow was the whole drive. I mean, that’s why I wrote the script.” McKay added:
“There was never one moment ever where it was going to end with the hero coming in to rescue the day. I don’t want to give it away, but I knew the nifty bow was never, ever going to be the case. I considered a slightly less definitive ending. I had one that was a little muddier, and it felt wrong.”
Don’t Look Up, which also stars Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Ron Perlman, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morgan, and Meryl Streep, opens in select theaters on December 10 before hitting Netflix on December 24.