Twister (1996 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jan de Bont|
|Cinematography||Jack N. Green|
|Edited by||Michael Kahn|
|Box office||$494.5 million|
Twister is a 1996 American epic action disaster adventure film starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton as storm chasers researching tornadoes. It was directed by Jan de Bont from a screenplay by Michael Crichton and Anne-Marie Martin. Its executive producers were Steven Spielberg, Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald and Gerald R. Molen. Twister was the second-highest-grossing film of 1996 domestically, with an estimated 54,688,100 tickets sold in the US.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Soundtrack
- 5 Reception
- 6 Legacy
- 7 In other media
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
In June 1969, in Oklahoma, 5-year-old Jo Thornton (Alexa Vega), her parents (Richard Lineback and Rusty Schwimmer), and their dog Toby seek shelter in their storm cellar as a dangerous F5 tornado hits their farm. The tornado is so strong that the storm cellar door is ripped off, which causes Jo's father to be pulled into the storm to his death to Jo's devastation after he was trying to get the T.V. from their house. Jo, her mother, and Toby survive.
27 years later in the present day in March 1996, 32-year-old Jo (Helen Hunt), now a meteorologist, is reunited with her estranged husband, Bill "The Extreme" Harding (Bill Paxton), a former weather researcher and storm chaser, who has since become a weather reporter. He has a brand new Dodge Ram pickup truck and is planning to marry sex therapist Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz). They need Jo's signature on the divorce papers and have tracked her down during an active bout of stormy weather. Jo has built four identical tornado research devices called DOROTHY, based on Bill's designs. The device is designed to release hundreds of sensors into the center of a tornado to study its structure from the inside, with the purpose of creating a more advanced storm warning system. Bill and Melissa join Jo and her team of storm chasers, and the team encounters Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes), a smug, corporate-funded meteorologist and storm chaser. When Bill discovers that Jonas has created a device based on DOROTHY, called DOT-3, he vows to help Jo deploy DOROTHY before Miller can claim credit for the idea. The team receives news that an F1 tornado is forming not too far away so they get inside the vehicles.
Bill and Jo use the yellow Jeep truck from 1982 which is owned by Jo to reach the F1 tornado. They zoom fast down a dirt path when Beltzer on radio tells that the funnel is getting thick and moving faster. They get stuck in the road followed by areas of mud. Jo's truck smashes into a small wooden bridge and Bill and Jo get out. While taking cover, Jo's truck and DOROTHY I are both destroyed. They continue storm chasing in Bill's truck, with Melissa in the back seat. They find the second tornado, a confirmed F2 tornado, and head off on a back road when the twister shifts its track. They soon find themselves driving through heavy rain, and instead, while driving over a bridge above a lake, run into a cluster of two waterspouts, spinning them around on the highway until they dissipate. They're fine, but Melissa becomes hysterical from the ordeal, and Bill has to calm her down.
The team visits Jo's aunt Meg's house in Wakita for food and rest. Whilst Jo is busy showering, Bill tells Melissa about his relationship with Jo and reflects on the night Jo's father got killed. They soon learn that an F3 tornado is forming dozens of miles away, so they say goodbye to Meg.
As the team is close to the F3, hail falls around them. Jo drives ahead of the team to intercept the oncoming tornado, but a telephone pole falls on the back of Bill's truck and knocks DOROTHY II out onto the road, disabling it. As the tornado lifts and touches down closer, Bill pulls Jo into the truck and moves to safety. The two confront each other over their marriage and Jo's obsession with stopping tornadoes, due to being upset about her father's death.
The following night, an F4 tornado demolishes a drive-in cinema during the showing of the 1980 horror film The Shining, forcing the team, snack shack employees and visitors to take shelter in a pit in a car repair shop warehouse. By this time Melissa has been traumatized by the experiences and recognizes the unresolved feelings between Bill and Jo. In desperation for her own safety, she peacefully breaks off the engagement with Bill. The tornado continues on to Wakita, devastating the town and injuring Meg while destroying her house. Bill and Jo rescue Meg and her dog from the collapsing house. Meg's injuries are not serious, but she is taken to the hospital for safety while her dog stays with the group. The team then hears that an F5 is forming 25 miles south of their position. Inspecting Meg's wind chime sculptures, Jo realizes that the most likely method to successfully deploy DOROTHY's sensors into a tornado would be to add additional body surface to catch the wind.
As they reach the F5, the team adds aluminum from soda cans to work as wind flaps, but the deployment of DOROTHY III is a failure. Meanwhile, Jonas attempts to deploy DOT-3 and in the process he ignores Bill's warnings to turn around as Bill and Jo realize that the tornado's track is beginning to shift. Moments later, a piece of metal comes flying through the windshield, Jonas's truck is caught by the tornado and he and his driver Eddie (Zach Grenier) are killed in the resulting explosion. Jo and Bill set out on their own and are able to deploy the last DOROTHY successfully, using Bill's truck as an anchor. From miles away, the research team sees immediate results on their computers from the sensors. Bill and Jo's celebration is cut short, however, as the tornado shifts course toward them. They take shelter in a small plumbing house where they anchor themselves to irrigation pipes with leather straps as harnesses. The tornado destroys the shed and Jo and Bill find themselves in the vortex of the super-massive funnel, securely floating in air.
After the F5 dissipates, Jo and Bill find themselves alone on the floor of the former shed. They decide to run their own lab and rekindle their marriage.
- Bill Paxton as Bill "The Extreme" Harding
- Helen Hunt as Dr. Jo Harding
- Alexa Vega as Young Jo Harding
- Jami Gertz as Dr. Melissa Reeves
- Cary Elwes as Dr. Jonas Miller
- Philip Seymour Hoffman as "Dusty" Davis
- Alan Ruck as Robert "Rabbit" Nurick
- Jeremy Davies as Brian Laurence
- Joey Slotnick as Joey
- Todd Field as Tim "Beltzer" Lewis
- Scott Thomson as Jason "Preacher" Rowe
- Wendle Josepher as Patty Haynes
- Lois Smith as Aunt Meg Greene
- Zach Grenier as Eddie
- Richard Lineback as Mr. Thornton
- Rusty Schwimmer as Mrs. Thornton
- Jake Busey as Mobile Lab Technician
- Abraham Benrubi as Bubba, the Mobile Lab Driver
Twister was produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, with financial backing from Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures. In return, Warner Bros. was given the North American distribution rights while Universal's joint venture distribution company UIP got the international distribution. The original concept and 10-page tornado-chaser story were presented to Amblin Entertainment in 1992 by screenwriter Jeffrey Hilton. Steven Spielberg then presented the concept to writer Michael Crichton. Crichton and his wife, Anne-Marie Martin, were paid a reported $2.5 million to write the screenplay.
The production was plagued with problems. Joss Whedon was brought in to do rewrites through the early spring of 1995. When he got bronchitis, Steve Zaillian was brought in. Whedon returned and worked on revisions right through the start of shooting in May 1995, then left the project after getting married. Two weeks into production, Jeff Nathanson was flown in to the set and worked on the script until principal photography ended.
Halfway through filming, both Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt were temporarily blinded by bright electronic lamps used to make the sky behind the two actors look dark and stormy. Paxton remembers that "these things literally sunburned our eyeballs. I got back to my room, I couldn't see". To solve the problem, a Plexiglas filter was placed in front of the beams. The actors took eye drops and wore special glasses for a few days to recuperate. After filming in a particularly unsanitary ditch, Hunt and Paxton needed hepatitis shots. During the same sequence, Hunt repeatedly hit her head on a low wooden bridge, so exhausted from the demanding shoot that she forgot not to stand up so quickly. During one stunt in which Hunt opened the door of a vehicle speeding through a cornfield, she momentarily let go of the door and it struck her on the side of the head. Some sources claim she received a concussion in the incident. De Bont said, "I love Helen to death, but you know, she can be also a little bit clumsy." She responded, "Clumsy? The guy burned my retinas, but I'm clumsy ... I thought I was a good sport. I don't know ultimately if Jan chalks me up as that or not, but one would hope so".
Some crew members, feeling De Bont was "out of control", left the shoot five weeks into filming. The camera crew led by Don Burgess claimed De Bont "didn't know what he wanted till he saw it. He would shoot one direction, with all the equipment behind the view of the camera, and then he'd want to shoot in the other direction right away and we'd have to move [everything] and he'd get angry that we took too long ... and it was always everybody else's fault, never his". De Bont claims that they had to schedule at least three scenes every day because the weather changed so often, and "Don had trouble adjusting to that". When De Bont knocked over a camera assistant who missed a cue, Burgess and his crew walked off the set, much to the shock of the cast. They remained one more week until Jack N. Green's crew agreed to replace them. Two days before the end of filming, Green was injured when a hydraulic house set, designed to collapse on cue, was mistakenly activated with him inside it. A rigged ceiling hit him in the head and injured his back, requiring him to be hospitalized. De Bont took over as his own director of photography for the remaining shots.
Because overcast skies were not always available, De Bont had to shoot many of the film's tornado-chasing scenes in bright sunlight, requiring Industrial Light & Magic to more than double its original plan for 150 "digital sky-replacement" shots. Principal photography was originally given a deadline to allow Hunt to return to appear in another season of Mad About You, but when shooting ran over schedule, series creator and actor Paul Reiser agreed to delay the show's production for two-and-a-half weeks so Twister could finish. De Bont insisted on using multiple cameras, which led to the exposure of 1.3 million feet of film, compared to the usual maximum of 300,000 feet.
De Bont claims that Twister cost close to $70 million, with $2–3 million going to the director. It was speculated that last-minute re-shoots in March and April 1996 (to clarify a scene about Jo as a child) and overtime requirements in post-production and at ILM, raised the budget to $90 million. Warner Bros. moved up the film's release date from May 17 to 10, to give it two weekends before Mission: Impossible opened.
Twister is known for its successful product placement, featuring a Dodge Ram pickup truck and several other new vehicle models.
Prints of Twister came with a note from De Bont, suggesting that exhibitors play the film at a higher volume than normal for full effect.
Twister featured both a traditional orchestral film score by Mark Mancina and several rock music songs, including an instrumental theme song composed and performed for the film by Van Halen. The film's music was released on compact disc.
Twister: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack
- Van Halen – "Humans Being"
- Rusted Root – "Virtual Reality"
- Tori Amos – "Talula" (BT's Tornado Mix)
- Alison Krauss – "Moments Like This"
- Mark Knopfler – "Darling Pretty"
- Soul Asylum – "Miss This"
- Belly – "Broken"
- k.d. lang – "Love Affair"
- Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – "How"
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – "Melancholy Mechanics"
- Goo Goo Dolls – "Long Way Down" (Remix)
- Shania Twain – "No One Needs to Know"
- Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham – "Twisted"
- Edward & Alex Van Halen – "Respect the Wind"
The song queued up on a TV in Dusty's van is Eric Clapton's "Motherless Child".
Twister: Motion Picture Score
- Oklahoma: Wheatfield
- Oklahoma: Where's My Truck?
- Oklahoma: Futility
- Oklahoma: Downdraft
- It's Coming: Drive In
- It's Coming: The Big Suck
- The Hunt: Going Green (feat. Trevor Rabin on guitar)
- The Hunt: Sculptures
- The Hunt: Cow
- The Hunt: Ditch
- The Damage: Wakita
- Hailstorm Hill: Bob's Road
- Hailstorm Hill: We're Almost There
- F5: Dorothy IV
- F5: Mobile Home
- F5: God's Finger
- Other: William Tell Overture/Oklahoma Medley
- Other: End Title/Respect the Wind - written by Edward and Alex Van Halen
There are some orchestrated tracks that were in the movie but were not released on the orchestral score, most notably the orchestrated intro to "Humans Being" from when Jo's team left Wakita to chase the Hailstorm Hill tornado. Other, lesser-known tracks omitted include an extended version of "Going Green" (when we first meet Jonas) and a short track from when the first tornado is initially spotted.
Twister: Expanded Archival Collection
- Wheatfield (Film Version)
- The Hunt Begins
- The Sky
- Dorothy IV (Film Version)
- The First Twister
- In the Ditch / Where's My Truck?
- Walk in the Woods
- Bob's Road
- Hail No!
- Futility (Film Version)
- Drive-in Twister
- Wakita (Film Version)
- Sculptures (Film Version)
- House Visit
- The Big Suck (Film Version)
- End Title
- Wheatfield (Alternate)
- Waterspouts (Alternate)
- The Big Suck (Alternate)
- End Title / Respect the Wind
The film holds a 57% score at Rotten Tomatoes based on 54 reviews. The critical consensus states "A high-concept blockbuster that emphasizes special effects over three-dimensional characters, Twister's visceral thrills are often offset by the film's generic plot." As of March 2013[update], it held a score of 68 at Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "You want loud, dumb, skillful, escapist entertainment? Twister works. You want to think? Think twice about seeing it".In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, "Somehow Twister stays as uptempo and exuberant as a roller-coaster ride, neatly avoiding the idea of real danger". Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B" rating and Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote, "Yet the images that linger longest in my memory are those of windswept livestock. And that, in a teacup, sums up everything that's right, and wrong, about this appealingly noisy but ultimately flyaway first blockbuster of summer". In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan wrote, "But the ringmaster of this circus, the man without whom nothing would be possible, is director De Bont, who now must be considered Hollywood's top action specialist. An expert in making audiences squirm and twist, at making us feel the rush of experience right along with the actors, De Bont choreographs action and suspense so beautifully he makes it seem like a snap." Time magazine's Richard Schickel wrote, "when action is never shown to have deadly or pitiable consequences, it tends toward abstraction. Pretty soon you're not tornado watching, you're special-effects watching". In his review for the Washington Post Desson Howe wrote, "it's a triumph of technology over storytelling and the actors' craft. Characters exist merely to tell a couple of jokes, cower in fear of downdrafts and otherwise kill time between tornadoes".
The film opened on May 10, 1996 and earned $41,059,405 from 2,414 total theaters, making it the number-one movie at the North American box office. It went on to earn a total of $241,721,524 at the North American box office. As of November 2012, it has earned a worldwide total of $494,471,524. It currently sits at number 76 on the all-time North American box office charts. Worldwide it sits at number 105 on the all-time earners list, not adjusted for inflation. It was the second-highest-grossing film of 1996 after Independence Day. It became Warner Bros.' most successful film at that time
On May 24, 1996, a tornado destroyed Screen No. 3 at the Can-View Drive-In, a drive-in theater in Thorold, Ontario, which was scheduled to show the movie Twister later that evening, in a real-life parallel to a scene in the film in which a tornado destroys a drive-in during a showing of the film The Shining. The facts of this incident were exaggerated into an urban legend that the theater was actually playing Twister during the tornado.
On May 10, 2010, a tornado struck Fairfax, Oklahoma, destroying the farmhouse where numerous scenes in Twister were shot. J. Berry Harrison, the owner of the home and a former Oklahoma state senator, commented that the tornado appeared eerily similar to the fictitious one in the film. He had lived in the home since 1978.
Bill Paxton would later narrate storm chaser Sean Casey's 2011 documentary Tornado Alley. After the death of Paxton in February 2017, hundreds of storm chasers and users of the Spotter Network used their markers to spell out his initials across the states of Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma in tribute to the actor.
In other media
On April 3, 1996, Sega Pinball released Twister, a pinball machine themed to the same name of the film. It features modes including Canister Multiball, Chase Multiball and more.
The film was used as the basis for the attraction Twister...Ride It Out at Universal Studios Florida, which features filmed introductions by Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt. The attraction opened on May 4, 1998 and closed on November 2, 2015 to make way for Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Crichton & his wife in 1996 Anne Marie Martin's original screenplay was released as a mass-market paperback in conjunction with the film.
- "Twister (1996)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb.com, Inc.
- Masters, Kim (June 15, 2016). "Steven Spielberg on DreamWorks' Past, Amblin's Present and His Own Future". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
- Daly, Steve (May 10, 1996). "The War of the Winds". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 14, 2009.
- "film music | movie music| film score | TWISTER - Mark Mancina - Limited Edition". Lalalandrecords.com. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
- "Twister". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
- "Twister Reviews". Metacritic. May 10, 1996. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (May 10, 1996). "Twister". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
- Maslin, Janet (May 10, 1996). "Twister". The New York Times. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
- Schwarzbaum, Lisa (May 24, 1996). "Twister". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
- Turan, Kenneth (May 10, 1996). "Twister". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 3, 2009.[dead link]
- Schickel, Richard (May 20, 1996). "Twister". Time. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
- Howe, Desson (May 10, 1996). "Twister: Special Effects and Hot Air". Washington Post. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
- "Tornado Destroys Twister Theater". Associated Press. May 22, 1996.
- Steyn, Mark (May 24, 1996). "A Nobody in My Neck of the Woods". Daily Telegraph.Commentary at Snopes.com 
- "Oklahoma farm used in film Twister devastated by real tornado in last weeks storm". NewsOK.com.
- "Storm Chasers Honor Bill Paxton With 'Twister' Tribute". Variety. 26 February 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- Surrel, Jason. "Jimmy Fallon to Get His Own Ride at Universal Orlando Resort in 2017". blog.universalorlando.com. Universal Orlando Resort. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
- results, search; results, search (May 14, 1996). "Twister: The Original Screenplay". Ballantine Books – via Amazon.
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