Midway (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roland Emmerich|
|Written by||Wes Tooke|
|Box office||$125.6 million|
Midway is a 2019 American epic war film about the Battle of Midway, a turning point in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The film was directed by Roland Emmerich, who also produced the film with Harald Kloser, and was written by Wes Tooke. The film stars Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Tadanobu Asano, and Woody Harrelson.
The movie was a passion project of Emmerich's, and he had trouble getting financial support for the film before finally raising sufficient funds and officially announcing the project in 2017. Much of the cast joined in summer 2018, and filming began in Hawaii that September. Some filming also taking place in Montreal. With a production budget of $100 million, it is to date one of the most expensive independent films of all time.
Midway was theatrically released by Lionsgate in the United States on November 8, 2019. It received mixed reviews from critics, though was praised for its historical accuracy, and grossed $125 million worldwide.
In December 1937 in Tokyo, American naval attaché intelligence officer Lieutenant Commander Edwin T. Layton and his counterpart are discussing the US and Japanese positions in the Pacific Ocean during a state function. Layton is warned by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto that if the Japanese oil supply is threatened by the US, the Japanese will take immediate action.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese use their carrier fleet to strike at Pearl Harbor. The attack leads the US to enter World War II. Naval aviator Lieutenant Dick Best and the Air Group (CAG) of the carrier USS Enterprise fail to find the Japanese carrier fleet. In the months following the Pearl Harbor attack, the Americans launch raids against the Marshall Islands and the Japanese mainland and engage a Japanese fleet at the Battle of the Coral Sea. Yamamoto proposes his most audacious plan yet—the invasion of Midway Island using the four available carriers of the Kido Butai.
Joseph Rochefort and his cryptology team begin intercepting messages concerning a location the Japanese identify as "AF". Layton speaks with Admiral Chester Nimitz, who informs him that Washington believes "AF" to be a target in the South Pacific. Layton disagrees, believing the intended target to be Midway Atoll. After meeting with Rochefort, Nimitz instructs the team to find a way to definitively prove that "AF" is Midway. After Layton instructs Midway to telegraph in the clear (unencrypted) that they are suffering a water shortage, cryptologists working for Rochefort intercept Japanese communications concerning water shortages on "AF", confirming that "AF" is indeed Midway.
In preparation for an ambush of the Japanese fleet, Nimitz orders carriers USS Hornet and Enterprise recalled from the Coral Sea and demands that the damaged USS Yorktown be made ready for combat operations. On June 4, the Japanese launch an air attack against Midway and inflict heavy damage. Initial attempts by US land-based aircraft to strike at the Japanese fleet carriers fail despite a crashing bomber narrowly missing the Akagi. Torpedo Squadrons from the American carriers soon arrive and attack but are slaughtered and their torpedoes prove ineffective. However, the attacks keep the Japanese carriers off balance and unable to prepare and launch their own counterstrike.
American submarine USS Nautilus launches a torpedo at a Japanese carrier but misses and is chased off by Japanese destroyer Arashi. Upon spotting the Arashi, the Commander of the Air Group (CAG) of the Enterprise, C. Wade McClusky, correctly infers the Japanese destroyer is rushing back to the main Japanese fleet and leads his planes to follow its course. Arriving to find the Japanese Combat Air Patrol out of position due to the torpedo attacks, the dive-bombers score several hits on Akagi, Kaga and Sōryū, effectively destroying them.
Aboard Hiryu, Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi launches a strike wave that succeeds in destroying Yorktown, prompting Enterprise and Hornet to launch their remaining aircraft. Best leads the squadron, which successfully bombs the Hiryu, setting it aflame. Admiral Yamaguchi and the captain go down with the ship. Hiryu is then scuttled. Yamamoto receives news that his carrier force has been destroyed. After learning that the American fleet has withdrawn, thus depriving him of the chance to use his main force of battleships to win a night battle against the American fleet, he orders a general withdrawal.
At Pearl Harbor, Rochefort intercepts the Japanese order to withdraw and passes it to Layton, who then informs Nimitz and his elated staff. A post-script reveals the fate of each of the key participants in the battle.
|Tadanobu Asano||Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi||Commander, 2nd Carrier Division|
|Etsushi Toyokawa||Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto||Commander-in-chief, Combined Fleet|
|Jun Kunimura||Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo||Commander, 1st Air Fleet (Kido Butai)|
|Peter Shinkoda||Commander Minoru Genda||Air Operations Officer, 1st Air Fleet|
|Nobuya Shimamoto||Captain Tomeo Kaku||Commanding Officer, Hiryū|
|Hiro Kanagawa||Commander Isamu Fujita||Commanding Officer, Makigumo|
|Ken Takikawa||Lieutenant Takashi Moroishi||Torpedo Officer (XO), Makigumo|
|Hiromoto Ida||General Hideki Tojo||Prime Minister of Japan|
|Hiroaki Shintani||Emperor Hirohito||Emperor of Japan|
|Mandy Moore||Anne Best||Dick Best's wife|
|Rachael Perrell Fosket||Dagne Layton||Edwin Layton's wife|
|Dean Schaller||Jack MacKenzie||Ford's cameraman|
|Christie Brooke||Millicent McClusky||Wade McClusky's wife|
|Kenny Leu||Zhu Xuesan||Chinese school teacher, who visited the US in 1992|
On May 23, 2017, it was reported that Roland Emmerich would be directing the World War II film Midway. Due to its potential lofty budget (with estimates putting its needed cost at $125 million), Emmerich had trouble getting the film greenlit. When no major studio would bankroll the project, he cut down on potential battle sequences and turned to individuals for the funds, resulting in $76 million; he then got an additional $24 million in equity, mostly from Chinese investors, resulting in the film's $100 million budget. It is one of the most costly independent films ever made. Emmerich had previously attempted to mount the film at Sony Pictures in the 1990s, with William Goldman becoming interested in the project. However, as with the final rendition, executives balked at the proposed $100 million budget ($152 million by 2019 inflation), and Emmerich moved on to direct The Patriot.
In April 2018, Woody Harrelson and Mandy Moore joined the ensemble cast for the film. In July 2018, Luke Evans was cast in the film to play Lieutenant Commander Wade McClusky, who was awarded the Navy Cross for his role in the Battle of Midway. Robby Baumgartner was hired as cinematographer. August saw the additions of Patrick Wilson, Ed Skrein, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Tadanobu Asano, Dennis Quaid, and others to the cast. Darren Criss, Alexander Ludwig, and Brandon Sklenar were cast in September. Filming began on September 5, 2018, in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was also shot in Montreal, Quebec.
A teaser poster for the film was released on June 4, 2019, which was also the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. A set of 13 still photographs depicting scenes from the film was released on June 26, 2019, and the first trailer for the film was released the following day (June 27). The second and final trailer of the film was released on September 12, 2019, with the film's theatrical poster on September 25. All-in-all, Lionsgate spent around $40 million promoting the film.
Midway grossed $56.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $68.5 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $125.4 million, against a production budget of $100 million.
In the United States and Canada, Midway was released alongside Doctor Sleep, Playing with Fire, and Last Christmas, and was projected to gross around $15 million from 3,242 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $6.3 million on its first day (including $925,000 from Thursday night previews). It went on to debut to $17.5 million, beating box office expectations and upsetting projected winner Doctor Sleep by finishing first at the box office. In its second weekend the film made $8.8 million, finishing second behind newcomer Ford v Ferrari, before making $4.7 million and finishing in fifth in its third weekend.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 41% based on 159 reviews, with an average rating of 5.22/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Midway revisits a well-known story with modern special effects and a more balanced point of view, but its screenplay isn't quite ready for battle." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 4 out of 5 stars, with 58% saying they would definitely recommend it.
While the film takes some artistic license, Emmerich and Tooke were both adamant about being historically accurate, and Midway received praise from some combat veterans and historians for being more accurate of events than Midway (1976) and Pearl Harbor (2001). Naval History and Heritage Command director and retired Navy Rear Admiral Sam Cox said: "Despite some of the 'Hollywood' aspects, this is still the most realistic movie about naval combat ever made."
Several seemingly "Hollywood-ized" events depicted in the film, such as Bruno Gaido sprinting into a parked plane in an effort to shoot down a crippled plane attempting to crash into the Enterprise, then getting on-spot promoted, occurred as shown, though according to USA Today, "Gaido hid after shooting the plane down, afraid he was going to get in trouble for leaving his battle station. 'They had to hunt him down and bring him to Halsey', says [Retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Samuel J. Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command]."
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