Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Scene from "Don't Look Up"

Astronomers played by Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio appear in a scene of the new film "Don't Look Up." (Photo: Netflix)

Climate Denial Satire "Don't Look Up" Now Top Film on Netflix Worldwide

"Absolutely love to see a climate movie hitting this huge a global audience on the world's largest platform," said journalist David Sirota, who co-created the story for the film.

Jake Johnson

The new feature film "Don't Look Up," a dark comedy satirizing the complacency and mendacity of elites in the face of an existential threat to human civilization, is now the most popular movie on Netflix worldwide, according to data compiled by FlixPatrol.

"Absolutely love to see a climate movie hitting this huge a global audience on the world's largest platform," journalist David Sirota, who co-created the story for the film, tweeted Monday. "An amazing success for the team that made the movie and for everyone who has been spreading the word."

An allegory of the human-caused climate emergency and other civilizational dangers, "Don't Look Up" follows two low-level astronomers as they attempt to alert political leaders and the rest of the world to a massive comet barreling toward Earth.

The film's scientists, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, soon discover that few can be bothered to care, let alone act, in the face of impending annihilation.

"This is the worst news in the history of humanity, and they just blew us off," Dr. Randall Mindy, DiCaprio's character, says following a meeting at the White House.

As the movie's political leaders dither, Peter Isherwell—a mega-rich Silicon Valley tech guru played by Mark Rylance—discovers that the apocalyptic comet contains more than $30 trillion worth of precious metals needed to manufacture electronic goods. Buoyed by that revelation, the federal government proceeds to partner with Isherwell on a plan to break the comet into pieces and mine its contents.

"This might all sound far-fetched—the stuff of comedy whimsy—were it not for the fact that Isherwell is clearly a sendup of real-world tech billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos who are very much convinced that saving the human species from extinction might be extraordinarily lucrative," Tyler Austin Harper, assistant professor of environmental studies at Bates College, wrote in his review of the film for Slate.

Watch the trailer:

Adam McKay, the film's director, told Space.com in a recent interview that the plot of "Don't Look Up" is "a Clark Kent-level disguise for the climate crisis."

"We're not trying that hard with disguising it," he said. "You hear the news not mention [the climate emergency] and then they go right to a commercial for a gas-driven car or an oil company. It's conflict of interest, it's careerism. It's a lot of people who are financially insecure. And it takes a lot of guts to raise your hand at that newspaper meeting and go, 'Why don't we have a giant headline that says, 'Oh, my God, we're all going to die!'"

But as The Intercept's Jon Schwarz wrote in his review of the movie, "The good news, if there is any, is that when the lights come up at the end, you'll realize that in reality we're only half an hour into this story."

"We can still save ourselves if we want to," he added. "And part of that will have to be much more human creativity like this, in service of understanding the horrifying destination toward which we're heading."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Pentagon Contractors in Afghanistan Pocketed $108 Billion Over 20 Years

Military contracting "obscures where and how taxpayer money flows," and "makes it difficult to know how many people are employed, injured, and killed," said the Costs of War Project report's author.

Jessica Corbett ·


Fetterman Demands Dr. Oz Answer for $50,000 Tax Break Intended for Pa. Farmers

"Dr. Oz does not want to live in Pennsylvania, and he doesn't want to pay taxes here; he just wants our Senate seat."

Julia Conley ·


With Antitrust Bills Stalled, Watchdogs Demand Schumer Disclose Big Tech Donations

"His close association with tech execs is worrying," said the progressive advocacy group that led the call.

Jake Johnson ·


Over 800,000 Brazilians Sign Pro-Democracy Manifesto Amid Bolsonaro Coup Threat

"We face the risk of having to live through a dictatorship once again—and this is inconceivable," one of the proclamation's authors warned.

Brett Wilkins ·


Nebraska Abortion Ban 3 Votes Short Shows Why Midterms ‘Matter So Damn Much'

"Poll after poll has shown that a majority of Nebraskans support abortion rights," said the state's Democratic Party chair. "But there are radical Republican senators that will keep trying to erode reproductive rights."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo