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Doom + gloom = Box office boom: Exploring the world of disaster flicks




(L to R) US actress Carla Gugino, Actor Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, US actress Alexandra Daddario and Australian singer Kylie Minogue pose on the carpet as they arrive to attend the World premiere of the film 'San Andreas' in London on May 21, 2015.
(L to R) US actress Carla Gugino, Actor Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, US actress Alexandra Daddario and Australian singer Kylie Minogue pose on the carpet as they arrive to attend the World premiere of the film 'San Andreas' in London on May 21, 2015.
LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

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Massive meteors, tsunamis, disease, ice ages, and of course, world-ending earthquakes...in Hollywood, there’s no shortage of ways to (theatrically) wipe out humanity.

Disaster movies have achieved somewhat of a cult status in the pantheon of film. For fans of a race against the clock to save Earth before it’s obliterated by a huge hunk of space rock, “Armageddon” or “Deep Impact” should do the trick. If you prefer watching Mother Nature bring the hammer down, try “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Twister,” or “Dante’s Peak.”

Back in 1974, Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner starred in the movie “Earthquake” about the day “The Big One” finally hits L.A. More than 40 years later, it still hasn’t hit, but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t make for good cinema. Next Friday marks the release of the latest film about what might happen when it does. “San Andreas” releases in theaters next week, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Carla Gugino, and it follows Johnson’s character across California as he searches for his daughter in the wake of a massive quake.

What are your favorite disaster movies of all time? What constitutes a ‘disaster movie’ in the first place? Does the genre only encapsulate movies about natural disasters or does it extend to subjects like alien invasions and zombie outbreaks as well? What makes a disaster movie good or bad? What are your favorite disaster movie tropes?

Guests:

Claudia Puig, film critic for KPCC

Andy Klein, film critic for KPCC and L.A. Times Community Paper Chain

Charles Solomon, film critic for KPCC, Animation Scoop and Animation Magazine