McKay wanted to make a movie about the impending climate apocalypse.
Spoilers ahead, obviously. Wanting to break away from stereotypical Hollywood film endings, director Adam McKay was inspired to come up with a "triple ending" for the four-time Golden Globe-nominated Netflix disaster-comedy, Don't Look Up. McKay wanted to make a movie about the impending climate apocalypse—one that was “a big, broad comedy,” he told Variety. McKay, who wrote and directed the Netflix film, told the outlet that he wanted to "break that traditional three-act Hollywood thing that we know so well." He added, "There could be something powerful about just not having that."
With #DontLookUp, Adam McKay wanted to take away the “guaranteed happy ending” that filmgoers have grown used to: “There could be something powerful about just not having that" https://t.co/KPt7gcfcrR— Variety (@Variety) December 29, 2021
The movie follows astronomer Dr. Randall Mindy, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his student Kate Dibiasky played by Jennifer Lawrence, both of whom are trying to warn the world of a comet that’s headed straight for Earth to destroy human civilization. Along with NASA's Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), they try to convince President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her chief of staff son Jason (Jonah Hill) of the impending doom. Instead, the mother and son try to capitalize on the disaster alongside billionaire tech mogul Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance). Sure enough, the world doesn't survive.
Don't Look Up... but do look at these new posters for the film pic.twitter.com/rY0AsYqvnP— Netflix (@netflix) December 7, 2021
Viewers got to see three endings starting with Randall, Kate, and her boyfriend Yule (Timothée Chalamet), along with Teddy at a family dinner. An emotional Randall says, "The thing of it is we really - we really did have everything, didn't we? I mean, if you think about it." This line almost didn't make the cut. "We were so afraid of it in the edit room, because it just whacked us so hard," McKay admitted. "We didn't even have it in the cut for a while. And then toward the end, we were like, 'You know what? We've gotta try that line.' And it was just the gut-punch of all gut punches," he added.
He also pointed out that the process of perfecting the triple ending was "constantly tweaking, tweaking, tweaking. How much of the world you show?" McKay asked. "What do you do with that music? How far do you go? Are we going too far? We want to feel sad, but we don't want to be traumatized. Like, I want to tear up, but I don't want to, you know—sob uncontrollably!" In a mid-credits scene, Meryl Streep's character is killed by a "brontaroc" some 22,000 years later. As for her son, in the third and final end-credits scene, Jason survives after she ditches him for the cryo chamber. McKay said, "What if Jason Orlean, who you could argue is maybe it's the most despicable character in the movie—what if he's the last guy on Earth?" The filmmaker added that "with a movie like this—that's a blend of broad comedy with a disaster and horror—I thought it was kind of perfect."
Don't Look Up is now streaming on Netflix.
Finally saw the @Netflix film “Don’t Look Up,” a fictional tale of a Nation distracted by pop-culture and divided on whether to heed dire warnings of scientists.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) December 29, 2021
Everything I know about news-cycles, talk shows, social media, & politics tells me the film was instead a documentary pic.twitter.com/tvDuEUXWCW