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SAN ANDREAS 3D: Earthquake to Wipe Out California, Bring Estranged Couple Together

Earthquake Los Angeles Mark Robson
Mark Robson's Earthquake in Los Angeles

An acquaintance of an acquaintance of a friend claims he has predicted several catastrophes in the not-too-distant past: the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Japanese earthquake, the George W. Bush election and reelection, the near-collapse of the international banking system. His latest claim: the Big One will shake and rattle Los Angeles next December 25. Talk about a memorable Christmas gift.

Now, I'm not sure if this acquaintance of an acquaintance etc. knows someone at New Line. But perhaps he does.

As per the Los Angeles Times blog 24 Frames, the studio is developing San Andreas: 3D. I'm assuming you know what 3D is. As for San Andreas, that's the fault line running through California, splitting much of the state in half. Remember that old nonsense – I mean, that old saying: As California goes, so goes the nation? Well, there's another: When San Andreas goes, so will California.

But California keeps bouncing back. It managed to survive the giant ants in Them!, the giant squid in It Came from Beneath the Sea, Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner's squabbling in Earthquake, Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sacramento, and even Volcano, in which Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche battle the film's title star in downtown L.A. So, it'll likely survive San Andreas 3D much like moviegoers will likely survive collapsing cgi-generated 3D buildings, too.

Now, it's less clear whether they'll survive the film's plot, as described by 24 Frames' Steven Zeitchik: "... [T]he hero is forced to go on the road to reconcile with his children and his estranged wife, who's moved away and taken up with another man a la John Cusack's character in 2012."

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Just Go with It's Allan Loeb has penned the San Andreas 3D screenplay. I don't believe Loeb is expecting an Academy Award nomination for it. But no matter, as he should be getting some fat paychecks and – if San Andreas 3D does indeed get made and released – some heavy-duty residuals coming his way. Beau Flynn, among whose credits are the Journey to the Center of the Earth and Red Dawn remakes, in addition to The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Slap Her... She's French, is the attached producer. No director or stars have been assigned, yet. [Addendum: As per Deadline.com, Jeremy Passmore and Andre Fabrizio wrote the screenplay; Loeb "polished" it.]

Directed by veteran Mark Robson, who once upon a time made small and well-received black-and-white movies at RKO, and co-written by The Godfather's Mario Puzo, Earthquake had its own gimmicky special effect back in 1974. Instead of 3D, Universal came up with Sensurround, a loud version of Odorama – minus the odor: You could hear the earth rumble, but you couldn't smell it. (Perhaps that's why Sensurround was a goner after a couple of years.)

Another Earthquake special effect was Ava Gardner, back as a top star for one single movie before her career unfortunately went downhill once again. Charlton Heston, Geneviève Bujold, George Kennedy, Victoria Principal, Lorne Greene, Barry Sullivan, Richard Roundtree, Lloyd Nolan, and former Christian preaching sensation Marjoe Gortner co-starred. (Walter Matthau had a cameo as a drunk.)

With a domestic gross of $79.66 million (about $340 million today) – Earthquake turned out to be the fourth biggest box office hit of the year, after Irwin Allen's Oscar-nominated The Towering Inferno (directed by John Guillermin), and Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Roland Emmerich's 2012 didn't fare so poorly, either, collecting $769.67 million worldwide two years ago.

Now, long before 2012 – or San Andreas 3DEarthquake also featured a plot about estranged husbands and wives: Heston is married to Gardner, but is having an affair with the younger Bujold. It takes an Act of God (more like an Act of Devil, really) to bring those two back together. My point: Earthquake was an original.

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