Day After Tomorrow Director Roland Emmerich Explains Why He ‘Didn’t Care Too Much’ For Netflix’s Don’t Look Up

Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, and Jennifer Lawrence walking and talking in Don't Look Up.
(Image credit: Netflix)

When you’ve made a disaster movie, it probably qualifies you to speak about other movies in the same genre. And Roland Emmerich has made his share of movies about the end of the world, so he probably knows more than most. The Day After Tomorrow director recently admitted that he wasn’t a big fan of Don’t Look Up, Netflix’s new satirical take on disaster movies, and had some thoughtful reflections on what the movie’s impact (no pun intended) could be. 

On paper, Don’t Look Up was an almost sure-fire hit. In reality, the film’s wild-but-maybe-not-that-wild premise that barely anyone would care about an impending apocalypse (except for Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence), didn’t really land for everyone. For instance, director Roland Emmerich, who told The Hollywood Reporter exactly why he "didn't care too much" Adam McKay’s Netflix comedy: 

The Day After Tomorrow was ahead of its time, and I’m a little bit worried that Don’t Look Up will not do anything. You have to really, really frighten people. And at the end [of Don’t Look Up] it’s like … they all sit there and eat and that’s it. And then, a very comedic scene with Meryl Streep. I didn’t care too much about it, with all the big actors and everything. Naw.

The new movie has been viewed as a metaphor both for the ongoing pandemic and the threat of climate change. While it’s too early to say whether the director is right about its potential impact on audiences (or lack thereof), he’s not alone in his criticism of the movie. Despite boasting one of the most star-studded casts in Netflix history, the movie hasn’t resonated with a lot of viewers. Many fans and critics have agreed that its comedic approach to the end of the world was a miss. 

The ending of Don’t Look Up, including Leonardo DiCaprio’s gut-punch of a final line, has also been controversial. Some, like Roland Emmerich, found it dissatisfying. But in Sean O’Connell’s review of Don’t Look Up for CinemaBlend, he argued that the ending did resonate for him, albeit too late. All in all, it's pretty clear that it doesn't exactly sit alongside the best movies on Netflix.

Whether you agree with Roland Emmerich’s appraisal of Don’t Look Up or not, it’s hard to deny that he has made quite an impression on the disaster movie genre. In addition to The Day After Tomorrow, which sees the world being destroyed by a climate-change induced weather storm, he also directed the End Times-themed 2012 and everyone’s favorite alien invasion blockbuster Independence Day

He also helmed the new sci-fi thriller Moonfall, one of the many new movie releases in 2022. We’ll see if he manages to captivate audiences one in a way Don’t Look Up didn’t manage to do for him when the Halle Berry-led flick hits theaters on February 4. 

Katherine Webb