Five years after he made Earth freeze over in The Day After Tomorrow, director Roland Emmerich is wreaking more havoc, this time with 2012.
The disaster epic, which opens November 13 via Sony, sees the end of the world come from solar flares that cause the Earth's core to melt and shift tectonic plates.
While the movie is preposterous, and recycles a set piece three times, you can't deny the mesmerizing quality of devastation, especially on the big screen.
During Tuesday's world premiere in downtown Los Angeles, Mickey Rooney began clapping during the epilogue, leading the crowd to applause during the credits.
"When you normally see disasters, you always see the aftermath; movies actually show it happening," theorized Emmerich at the after-party as to why those kinds of movies are popular. People are fascinated."
While the German native got out of the directing gate with Universal Soldier and Stargate, it was the 1996 alien-invasion disaster movie Independence Day that really made his career. And he knows it, too.
"When (producer) Dean Devlin and I made Independence Day, it had a lot of destruction in there and it became very successful. It became a signature for me. And I realized that people get very excited when things blow up. When we blew up the White House, people applauded! Because of Independence Day, I get money to make these kinds of movies."
Mark Gordon, who's produced four of Emmerich's movies including 2012, says there's a sweetness to Emmerich's films influenced by the director's love of Steven Spielberg's works.
"When I see Roland destroy things, I howl because it's fun. It's not depressing," said Gordon. "He shoots these scenes with a certain kinds of filter that as terrifying as it is, it's magical at the same time. It's not gritty, it's clean. It's pop."
Emmerich may not want to be labeled as the disaster guy, he also admits to being very particular in what he likes directing.
"I don't like superheroes," he said. "And that takes out about 60% of the big movies Hollywood makes. And I don't like very much fantasy, and I don't like making famous books into movies. That's another 20% cut. So it's a very narrow field that I can service."
Emmerich's next project, however, will take him as far away from White House demolitions as possible. Anonymous, a drama set in 16th century England, tackles the question of whether William Shakespeare really was the author of his many plays. The project is targeting a spring 2010 shoot in Berlin's Babelsberg Studios.