Neil deGrasse Tyson, an experienced astrophysicist, breaks down Roland Emmerich’s science fiction movie Moonfall, giving it low marks for realism. Released in 2022, the disaster thriller followed Brian Harpert, a disgraced former astronaut, Jocinda Fowler, the head of NASA and K.C. Houseman, a conspiracy theorist and semi-scientist, as they journeyed to the moon in hopes of saving the earth from impending danger. The movie, whose cast featured such names as Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Donald Sutherland, Michael Peña, and Charlie Plummer, was a box office bomb, grossing only $67 million worldwide after a reported $138–146 million production budget.
In a video interview with SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show, Neil deGrasse Tyson explains that Moonfall violates more laws of physics per minute than he’s ever seen any other movie do. The famed astrophysicist took an issue with Moonfall’s premise of the hollow moon approaching earth, claiming that they create exaggerated solutions for problems that could be solved in much easier ways. The 64-year-old suggests that since there’s no friction in space, the asteroid could have been slightly nudged, and this would have prevented it from directly hitting the earth or alternatively, they could have slowed it down so that it’ll pass behind the earth. Read his full comments below:
After initial predictions suggested that Moonfall might break even in the first few weeks of its release, the sci-fi movie dropped out of the box-office top ten just after its third week of release. After grossing $9.9 million in its opening weekend, the movie suffered a steep decline in its second weekend, earning a lowly $2.9 million. By the third week, it suffered even more decline, and it was made available on VOD platforms less than two months after its release in theaters. While this was in parts due to the severe February 2022 North American winter storm that forced over 300 theaters to shut down in Midwestern United States, Moonfall was mainly a flop because most viewers and critics felt it was simply bad.
A lot of the movie’s criticism lies in it’s incredibly silly plot, which critics and moviegoers alike found ridiculous. The plot was also riddled with so many unnecessary clichés and the chemistry between most of the cast was little to virtually non-existent in some cases. According to publishers like RelishMix, online reactions to Moonfall were mostly mixed to negative and “awareness stats ran under norms”.
Shortly before Moonfall’s release in February 2022, there were suggestions from Emmerich about the possibility of filming two sequels for the movie. However, with the negative critical reception that it garnered and considering it was also a box office failure, it is highly unlikely that we would be getting a follow-up. Even if a follow-up were to get off the ground, one can hope Emmerich finds a way to bring in more realistic science to his story.