5 Stormy Movies That Reigned at the Box Office

Into the Storm, a disaster flick about a town that is ravaged by a series of devastating tornadoes, blows into theaters on August 8. Per the synopsis provided by the film’s website, “Told through the eyes and lenses of professional storm chasers, thrill-seeking amateurs, and courageous townspeople, ‘Into the Storm’ throws you directly into the eye of the storm to experience Mother Nature at her most extreme.”

Into the Storm is the second feature film directed by Steven Quale, who previously helmed the horror movie Final Destination 5. While Quale has a short résumé when it comes to director credits, he was a second unit director for two James Cameron-directed films, including Titanic, the king of all disaster movies. Quale also co-directed the undersea documentary Aliens of the Deep with Cameron and delved once again into the natural disaster genre with the 2002 made-for-TV movie Superfire.

Disaster movies that feature storms have ranged from the unbelievably ridiculous — like last year’s made-for-TV cult hit Sharknado — to the tragically true, like 1996’s White Squall. Whether the story of a film is stupid or serious, one of the most important measures of any movie’s success is its ability to rake in the dough. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five commercially successful titles that also feature big storms.

The movies are ranked according to total domestic gross, since that is the typical measure of a film’s box office success. However, in the interest of full disclosure, each film’s total worldwide lifetime gross is also provided.

5. Noah (2014)

When it comes to disaster movies that involve storms, it’s hard to top a film that floods Earth and wipes out most of humanity. Inspired by the biblical story of Noah, this Darren Aronofsky-directed film stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, and Emma Watson. Although the film received mixed reviews upon its release, it currently has a respectable 77 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.

While Noah is not the most commercially successful storm-themed movie to ever hit U.S. theaters, it did pull in an impressive lifetime domestic gross of $101.2 million, according to Box Office Mojo. However, it was this movie’s international gross that really made Noah a financial hit. Per Box Office Mojo, Noah made $258 million overseas — over 70 percent of its total lifetime gross — giving this film an impressive total worldwide gross of $359.2 million.

4. The Perfect Storm (2000)

Loosely based on an actual fishing boat disaster, The Perfect Storm tells the story of a group of Massachusetts-based fisherman who were lost at sea when they had a fateful encounter with the so-called “Perfect Storm” of 1991. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen, The Perfect Storm features an ensemble cast of well-known stars, including George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, and John C. Reilly. While the film received mixed reviews from the critics, it garnered two Academy Award nominations, including one in the category of Best Effects, Visual Effects.

The Perfect Storm was a commercial hit in the U.S., with a total domestic gross of almost $183 million, according to Box Office Mojo. However, when foreign box office receipts are added, The Perfect Storm’s gross rises to nearly $329 million.

3. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Global climate change triggers violent freezing storms in this apocalyptic disaster movie directed by Roland Emmerich. The film’s cast includes Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ian Holm, Emmy Rossum, and Sela Ward.

While the sketchy science underlying The Day After Tomorrow’s story was widely criticized, the film’s impressive special effects drew enough moviegoers to make this disaster flick a commercial hit. According to Box Office Mojo, The Day After Tomorrow achieved a total domestic lifetime gross of $186.7 million, while its substantial overseas revenue gave this film a total worldwide gross of $544.3 million. The Day After Tomorrow also has the unique distinction of recording the highest-grossing opening weekend without being the No. 1 movie at the time.

2. Cast Away (2000)

Apparently 2000 was a good year for movies that feature big storms. Besides The Perfect Storm, this year also saw the release of the Robert Zemeckis-directed Cast Away. In the film, Tom Hanks stars as Chuck Noland, a FedEx employee who is marooned on an isolated island after a violent storm causes his airplane to go down over the Pacific Ocean. Years later, after he manages to escape the island on a makeshift raft, Chuck must contend with another storm that almost drowns him. Helen Hunt costars as Chuck’s fiancé.

Cast Away was a critical success and was nominated for two Academy Awards, including a Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination for Hanks. The film currently has a 90 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes. As the second-highest grossing movie of 2000, Cast Away was also a resounding commercial success. According to Box Office Mojo, the film raked in a total domestic lifetime gross of $233.6 million and a total worldwide gross of nearly $430 million.

1. Twister (1996)

Twister tops the list of hit movies that feature storms in what could be a fortuitous sign for this year’s similarly tornado-packed Into the Storm. Directed by Jan de Bont, this movie about a group of storm chasers stars Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. While the film received mixed reviews from the critics, it was hailed for its impressive special effects. Twister garnered two Academy Award nominations, including one in the category of Best Effects, Visual Effects.

Twister was the second-highest grossing film in the U.S. in 1996 with box office receipts totaling nearly $242 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The film’s overseas gross was even more impressive at almost $253 million, giving Twister a total worldwide gross of $494.5 million.

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