Given his skill set, Garrity and his family are selected to be part of a select few sent to a bunker in Greenland to “re-seed” the population after the dust settles. Circumstances cause them to split up, and it becomes a race against time for Garrity to save his family and get them in the bunker before the big one hits.
Butler’s character is no Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis. His single fight scene is deliberately choreographed in a way that makes it clear Garrity is merely defending his life, not winning a martial arts battle.
The film, budgeted at a relatively modest $35 million, has already garnered more than $47 million in gross revenue in theaters overseas. In the United States, this film was scheduled for a summer release in June, but the pandemic forced STXfilms to push that back to September. With half the theaters closed in the United States, the producers then decided to send “Greenland” straight to video on demand Dec. 18. ($19.99 for a two-day rental.) The film will appear on HBO Max and Amazon Prime next year.
Reviews have been excellent with an 89% positive rating on RottenTomatoes. “There are enough left turns here to allow us to shake the impression that we’ve been to this rodeo before,” wrote Derek Smith of Slant magazine. Jordan Mintzer of Hollywood Reporter was even kinder: “The gritty verisimilitude that the star and director Ric Roman Waugh bring to the table goes a long way in making this B-level blockbuster, a timely and guilty pleasure.”
The premise is not as outlandish as it seems, Waugh said. The Earth has been hit by comets and asteroids and fragments of comets before.
“It could happen tomorrow,” Waugh said. “During the filming, we’d be sent articles from people about objects coming close to Earth. An asteroid last month was a near miss. These things happen all the time. Who knows? We haven’t had a pandemic like the one we have now in 100 years.”
“Greenland” also does a nice job showing the variety of ways humans might react to an apocalypse like this. There are the looters and robbers. There are partyers who just don’t care. There are kindhearted folks who try to help others even as they face their own mortality. And there are those who accept the inevitable with grace.
“We are seeing that during the pandemic,” Waugh said. “There were folks partying on spring break. There are people who refuse to leave their homes.”
The film was shot primarily around metro Atlanta in the summer of 2019. The producers used a cul de sac in Marietta to shoot Garrity’s home and neighborhood. Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins played itself and featured a lot of extras, many of whom actually were military personnel. It’s where Garrity’s family was set to fly to Greenland where the coveted bunker is located.
Iceland was used for Greenland in a few scenes since that country has a more developed base of film crews.
While Waugh would have loved to have had his film on 3,000 screens in North America back in June, he accepts that most Americans will end up seeing his work on a much smaller screen.
But he isn’t thrilled by WarnerMedia’s move to simultaneously release 17 of its major films in theaters and on HBO Max at the same time in 2021, though he isn’t quite as upset as other creatives. “We’re dealing with a bunch of knee-jerk reactions like Warner Brothers. I think once the dust settles in 2021, we’ll course correct,” he said.
Waught loves the cinema and hopes the mom-and-pop theaters survive the pandemic. “I think people still want a good theatrical experience,” he said. “People want to go to concerts and sporting events and the movies. We are built to be communal. We’ll get back to that.”
HOW TO WATCH
“Greenland,” available on video on demand as of Dec. 18 for $19.99 for 48 hours.