Olympus Has Fallen Visual Effects Reel Shows How Hollywood Destroyed D.C.

Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen is a bona-fide hit for FilmDistrict. The attack-on-the-White-House thriller, starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart, has posted a $73 million overall haul against its announced $70M budget, with several key international markets yet to open the film. One reason audiences check out Fuqua’s drama is the realistic sequences involving terrorist raids on recognizable Washington, D.C. landmarks like the National Monument and, of course, the White House. But as you can see via the visual effects clip shared above, almost all of it is digitally enhanced to bolster the illusion.

The clip was shared on YouTube by WorldWideFX, and is a montage of effects being added to backgrounds of footage Fuqua shot in Louisiana, adding buildings, trees, crowds and more to drop important elements into explosive fire fights.

You are going to want to pause the video often, like at the 1:26 mark, to see what Fuqua actually photographed before visual artists swooped in to add D.C. streets and landmarks to the frame to suggest an actual war being waged on the streets of our nation’s capitol. Butler may be running up to a tree, but it’s actually in a wide-open field somewhere in Louisiana, and not on the front lawn of a White House building which is under siege.

These peeks behind the curtain are wonderful … and frustrating. Don’t you still want to believe in the magic of movie making? This is sort of like a magician revealing the secrets of his or her best tricks. Olympus stuck with me because, as a one-time resident of D.C., I was disturbed to see my beautiful city brought to its knees. Now that I know it was a convincing digital simulation, a little of that luster is off.

Perhaps it can be reclaimed by Roland Emmerich’s White House Down, which hits theaters on June 28. At least, until a VFX reel for that blockbuster hits the Web weeks after release.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.