BySam Plank, writer at
"You have to be what you are. Whatever you are, you gotta be it." -Johnny Cash. Tweet a tweeter at my twitty twitter, @tw1tterintw1t
Sam Plank

Two apocalyptic items that have recently appeared in the news prompted me to write this. One, the impending "big one” that Southern California might be experiencing soon along the San Andreas Fault (The Rock...we need you, The Rock!). And two, CLOWNS. Clowns everywhere. Creepy clown sightings have even come to my hometown. And Britain!

Evil smiling bastards.

But the earthquake thing, that's some serious stuff. Due to a recent swarm of earthquakes in the Salton Sea, officials are warning the residents of SoCal that the big one may be coming. That brings to mind a few things, but let's just concentrate on one of them: dystopian, disaster, and apocalyptic movies! Especially the ones set in the future.

What did the producers envision our world to look like while the asteroids fell, machines took over, and strippers became zombies? Did they get anything right? Were they completely wrong? Let's find out, year by year for the past 20 years, and even look a few years into our possible future!

1. 1996 - 12 Monkeys

  • Year it was released: 1995
  • Year it was set: 1996

We should be kind of glad our 1996 didn't look like the 1996 of 12 Monkeys. Deadly virus, five billion people dead, and the rest living underground...not good. But you have to admit, 39 years later in the movie, it's impressive that humanity still had the technology to make a freaking time machine! And frankly, they're not faring any better in the current Syfy TV series, either.

2. 1997 - Escape From New York

  • Year it was released: 1981
  • Year it was set: 1997

Honestly, who knows what the rest of the world looks like in this Kurt Russell flick? All we know is after the crime rate in the country has gone sky high (could have been the clowns), Manhattan is now a prison. Surrounded by a 50 foot wall, and guarded by helicopters and mines that are placed in the routes to and from the city, even the Statue of Liberty didn't stand a chance in that hell hole.

Maybe we'll have better luck in the reboot. Especially if Emily Blunt is involved.

3. 1998 - Child's Play 3

  • Year it was released: 1991
  • Year it was set: 1998

The CEO of the Good Guy Doll company pretty much hit the nail on the head with this quote:

You know, one of the hardest things about this business is that it is a business. Doesn't matter what we're selling. Whether it's cars, nuclear weapons, or yes, even toys. The bottom line is the bottom line. And what are children after all, but consumer trainees?

Cue the boardroom laughter... Okay, look, I know this doesn't really have anything to do with or the future, but when you have a listicle with over two dozen movies on it, sometimes ya gotta fudge it.

4. 1999 - Doctor Who (1996 Movie)

  • When it was released: 1996
  • When it was set: 1999

Something every Doctor Who fan wishes would happen happened to 1999 San Francisco, when the TARDIS landed in Chinatown.

However, in the operating room, right before the surgeon finds out the Doctor has two hearts, we hear about something called a microsurgical probe being placed into his artery, a probe that can search out what's wrong with his heart(s). Dammit Jim, I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure that didn't exist in 1999. Hell, I'm not even sure it exists now.

5. 2000 - Deep Impact (1998)

  • When it was released: 1998
  • When it was set: 2000

If you Google “government building underground bunkers,” you get all sorts of, uh, interesting stuff. Whether our government is doing that right now or not, nobody really knows, but the government of the U.S. and other countries sure as heck did in Deep Impact.

They were not only a little early on that, but also with the U.S. having a brotha for a president!

6. 2001 - 2001: A Space Odyssey

  • When it was released: 1968
  • When it was set: 2000

You gotta love sci-fi films from this era...they had such high hopes for us. 2001 is no exception, and it's one of the best movies ever made! From outposts on the moon, to space stations with restaurants, to thinking that videophone thing would still be around:

Stanley Kubrick really thought we'd be further along than we are. Which might be a blessing — thank goodness we haven't had to deal with a a real-life HAL in the last 15 years.

7. 2002 - Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

  • When it was released: 1989
  • When it was set: 2002

Seeing how most of the movie focuses on Jason killing people with every object possible, there isn't much to say for the what the producer envisioned 2002 to look like in this horror flick. There is the fact that corpses could be reanimated by electricity, but I don't think that counts.

8. 2003 - Death Machine (1994)

  • When it was released: 1994
  • When it was set: 2003

Part RoboCop, part Terminator, with a little dash of porn thrown in for good measure (considering the name of the cybernetic supersoldier was Hard Man), Death Machine showed a 2003 that had the above-mentioned soldier, crazy advanced weaponry, and a final showdown with a machine called Warbeast that feeds on your fear. In reality, 2003 gave us the iTunes Music Store, the Bugbear and Blaster worm viruses, and a robot that knew karate. So close!

9. 2004 - X-Men & Terminator: Rise Of The Machines

  • When it was released: 2000
  • When it was set: 2004

How cool would it be if, in 2004, we could shoot fire or ice from our hands? Unfortunately, we had no mutants, nor did we have all that sweet-ass tech that Professor X had. Cerebro would be SO much easier than Google and Whitepages when you wanted to stalk someone.

...Or so I've heard.

And what about the time-traveling Terminator?

  • When it was released: 2003
  • When it was set: 2004

Only made one year prior to 2004, thank John Connor none of this has happened yet. If it had, well, John Connor, wherever you are, you have about 4 years to find your father and send him back in time so he can impregnate your mother with you.

10. 2005 - Rollerball

  • When it was released: 2002
  • When it was set: 2005

Unlike the original, the remake is set three years in the future instead of 2018, like the original 1975 movie. The differences didn't stop there, including the success of one and complete lack of success in the other, but one thing the remake had wrong, and hopefully what the original will have wrong in two more years, is that we'll have a sport where the the winners live and the losers die.

11. 2006 - Another Earth (2011)

  • When it was released: 2011
  • When it was set: 2006

A little different than the other entries, Another Earth is set in 2006, five years prior to when it was made. It tells of another earth, and exact mirror of ours, that appears in the sky.

Just think about it...another earth where there might be another presidential race, just like ours!

12. 2007 - Paycheck

  • When it was released: 2003
  • When it was set: 2007

This movie has a story element that is actually very similar to my own job. Ben Affleck plays a reverse engineer who makes stuff for his clients by figuring out how their competitors make their stuff then improves upon it. He then has his memory wiped clean to forget about said stuff. In my job, I learn stuff, do that stuff, then don't have to do it again for weeks, forgetting how to do all that stuff.

Really close, right?

13. 2008 - Split Second (1992)

  • When it was released: 2008
  • When it was set: 1992

Split Second paints a picture of London where big parts of the city are underwater due to global warming and heavy rains. It's basically like it is now, just worse. Like a trial run for Waterworld. My God, maybe that's a new fan theory: Waterworld was just the logical conclusion of the world set up in Split Second.

14. 2009 - Sci-Fighters

  • When it was released: 1996
  • When it was set: 2009

There's really not much about this movie online, except that it was set in 2009, and there's a prison on the moon from which an inmate, infected with an alien virus, escapes from and kills a detective's wife back on earth. No prisons on the moon, yet...that we know of...

15. 2010 - District 9

  • When it was released: 2009
  • When it was set: 2010

I SO wanted to put The Butterfly Effect here, but the picture of the future it paints is pretty much exactly what it was, except for a kid running around that could time travel. District 9, In 1982, instead of celebrating the Commodore 64 computer and Sony's first CD player, the people in the movie were freaking out about an alien ship that's hanging out over Africa. Twenty-eight years later is when the movie is set, with the the aliens from the ship living in District 9. Aliens among us, alien weapons, alien juices that turn humans into aliens...sounds a lot more fun than the whole Deepwater Horizon disaster. Probably shouldn't hold my breath for that sequel, however.

16. 2011 - Bombshell

  • When it was released: 1997
  • When it was set: 2011

E.T.'s 26-year-old Henry Thomas stars in this futuristic movie that also stars nano-engines as potential cures to cancer, and operations where kidneys are removed and bombs are implanted instead. Looking around, I still don't see any nanobots running around...well, not that I can see, anyway. Being nano in size, I guess I wouldn't.

17. 2012 - 2012

  • When it was released: 2009
  • When it was set: 2012

I picked this one because it's named 2012, set in 2012, and released in 2012...just kidding; it was released in 2009. According to the movie, we shouldn't even be here right now.

If this had come true, the U.S. would be either underwater or upside down. Either way, thank goodness they got THAT one wrong.

18. 2013 - Escape From L.A.

  • When it was released: 1996
  • When it was set: 2013

Made the year before the year in which the original Escape from New York was set (say what?), the second Escape movie does to L.A. what its predecessor did to New York. This time, L.A. is a prison city that is its own island thanks to a massive earthquake. But L.A. being a prison island is only part of the 2013 this movie paints a picture of. The new president has been elected to the position for life, and has banned everything from sex out of marriage to alcohol, tobacco to guns, and cussing to not believing in God. Break any of those laws? They send your evil (I say no-fun-having) butt to L.A. Harsh.

19. 2014 - Moon Child

  • When it was released: 2003
  • When it was set: 2014

In this movie, Japan's economy collapses in 2014, forcing the citizens to leave and go to China. It follows three of those citizens who form a gang, meet a vampire, and use drugged pizzas to rob their victims. Not extremely out there, but with the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster on the island, who knows? Maybe there are some sparkly vampires hanging around there now.

20. 2015 -Back to the Future Part II

  • When it was released: 1989
  • When it was set: 2015

The Cubs didn't win the 2015 World Series, but the Royals winning it was just as surprising (and overdue). In '15, we had no hover boards, no self-lacing shoes or flying cars, but flat screens, video chat, and drones? Heck yeah! They actually missed the fax machine and phone booth crazy by a couple decades or so, though.

21. 2016 - Zombie Strippers

  • When it was released: 2008
  • When it was set: 2016

This didn't do half bad for a movie about zombie strippers. George W. Bush didn't get elected to a fourth term in 2016, and Congress was still together, unfortunately. In the movie, not so much (if only!). While the real-life war in Afghanistan officially ended in 2014, there is still plenty of fighting going on over there, and in Zombie Strippers, not only is there a war going on in Afghanistan, but in about a dozen other countries.


The government creating zombies by trying to bring dead Marines back to life to fight some more? That's one prediction we can be thankful they missed.

See Also:

Here's (maybe) what we (might) have to (possibly) look forward to (but hopefully not)!

2017 - Fortress

  • When it was released: 1992
  • When it is set: 2017

2009's Surrogates would have been a safe bet for its depiction of 2017, but the depiction in Fortress is just so...interesting. Considering the country of China practically owns the United States due to us owing them more of our trillions of dollars in debt than any other country (except ourselves...we somehow owe ourselves a LOT of money), it's kind of funny that, in Fortress, the U.S. has prohibited its citizens from having more than one kid. The punishment? Not sure what China doles out, but in Fortress's alternate 2017, Christopher Lambert's character gets 31 years!

2018 - Iron Sky

  • When it was released: 2012
  • When it is set: 2018

Let's hope this sucker doesn't predict what our 2018 looks like. Not only will we have Nazis coming at us from the moon, but our President will send an African American male model to the moon during her re-election campaign, and actually call it “Black to the Moon.” To make matters worse, the Nazis “albinize” the model, making him...yeah you get it.

Sadly, (or not sadly, depending on the depth of your love of conspiracy theories) there is a sequel heading our way.

2019 - Akira

  • When it was released: 1988
  • When it is set: 2019

The way things are going in Russia (and in the U.S. with this insane race for the throne), World War III doesn't seem like too outlandish of a possibility. In Akira, that happened in 1988, the year in which the movie begins. It takes place in Neo-Tokyo, the new Tokyo, after the old Tokyo was blown up, starting WW3. Fast-forward to 2019 and get this: kids with psychic abilities, secret government labs, WW3...those are all happening, but two gangs are going at it as well. The Capsules, and the Clowns.


Think about that.

2020 - Edge Of Tomorrow

  • When it was released: 2014
  • When it is set: 2020

No, I'm not going to say I want Tom Cruise to die a million times. But you have to admit, after seeing him jump on Oprah's couch and divorcing sweet little Katie Holmes, it was a little satisfying.

What kind of future that's been depicted in the movies would YOU want to see happen?


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