Blog Directory CineVerse: Remember Y2K? Nah, we didn't think so

Remember Y2K? Nah, we didn't think so

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hard to believe it's really been 10 years, but a little over a decade ago at this time, people all over the world were panicking about the potential Armageddon called "The Millennium Bug." Yes, Y2K paranoia struck deep in our cultural consciousness in late December 1999, but it proved all for naught, as airplanes didn't fall out of the sky after all, toasters didn't turn on their masters and computers across the globe clicked over into the new calendar without a hitch.

Back in those latter days of '99, I had myself a sweet little gig where I got paid to write about a different Y2K topic every week a la a column called "Surviving 2000." One of the wackiest writeups I filed for that particular post was a piece about a proposed action/suspense movie with the Millennium Bug as the villain. Here is a reprint of that article:

The best Y2K movie you’ll never see

by Erik J. Martin

In early silent films, the thwarted black-robed and handlebar mustachioed villain would pantomime the familiar phrase, “Curses -- Foiled Again!” Fast forward to 1999 when they make the millennium bug the movie villain and you’ll get the hero uttering the cliched line instead.

Guess that’s what happens when you try to make a solid action/adventure film depicting the end of the world a la the Y2K bug. The curse of the two-digit-deficiency inevitably strikes, and before you know it, your film is foiled right in the middle of production. So much for the best Y2K blockbuster you’ll never see.

No, “Y2K: The Movie,” starring Chris (Robin in the Batman movies) O’Donnell, didn’t bite the dust because its movie cameras and editing bays succumbed to the Y2K glitch. Like thousands of businesses that are sure to reap the wrath of Y2K noncompliance next year for starting their Year 2000 efforts so late, the Warner Brothers movie was doomed from the start because of poor planning. In short, O’Donnell – who co-penned the screenplay -- pulled the plug on the project earlier this year because it was pushed back to a February 2000 release due to production delays. Talk about your anti-climactic Armageddon flicks.

O’Donnell was set to play – you guessed it – a computer programmer who must try to save the world from being shut down by that dastardly digital demon of a computer virus, the Year 2000 problem. The actor consulted with Y2K gurus Peter De Jager and Ed Yardeni in the making of the movie and "utilized all the experts on logistics and possibilities of the potential computer glitch," he was reported as saying. Too bad he didn’t consult with his calendar more closely. Principal photography wasn’t scheduled to begin until May 1999. After all the reshoots, focus group viewings and amended endings that Hollywood would have demanded, the film might have been more aptly titled Y2-Late: The Musical.

You just knew that Tinseltown –so bankrupt of ideas that they’re attempting to remake Planet of the Apes and turn cartoon character Dudley Do-Right into a live action comedy -- would jump all over the chance to bring Y2-chaos to the big screen and try to cash in on the paranoia. But they couldn’t even get their dates right. And so we’ll never get to see O’Donnell as the fearless good guy hacker swinging between skyscrapers on computer cable lines, battling possessed date-defunct VCRs and fighting for his life in a lightsabre duel with evil cash-depleted ATMs run amok (would’ve sold me on a trough of popcorn and a gallon of syrupy movie-lobby grade Coke). We’ll never get to hear the Kenny Loggins theme song “Danger Digits” on Top-40 radio. We’ll never get to buy our kids the Happy Meal packed with a plastic finger puppet C.O.S.M.O.–the sidekick computer who might have fought alongside O’Donnell in the movie and thrilled kiddie audiences everywhere.

But fear not, hype-happy consumers of all things hooey from Hollywood. You’ll still be satiated with your fair share of end-of-the-world films before 1999 is spent: Ah-nold Schwarzenegger himself will appear in the Armageddon-ish “End as a World,” and Winona Ryder will try to halt the ride of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in “Lost Souls.” You can always count on a couple of doomsday meteor movies being thrown in the mix. And other studios and networks may yet be vying to vex our senses with still more Y2K disaster films. (Hey, if they can air three different made-for-TV movies about Amy Fisher within the same week, we’re bound to see at least one or two Y2K “Movie of the Weak – er, Week” attempts on network television, right?).

Look up the title “Y2K” on the omnipresent Internet Movie Database (, and you’ll get a vague listing for a film set to be released this year co-starring Louis Gossett Jr. and Malcolm McDowell and set with the JFK-quote tagline, "Man Holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish...all forms of life." Guess that Year 2000 problem is more lethal than we thought.

One widely circulated report hints at a Y2K-related film possibly being made about a Boeing 747 bitten by the millennium bug and crashing into the Empire State Building (honest -- I wouldn’t make this stuff up). No word yet, however, on whether the bug looks like a giant winged centipede that breathes fire like Godzilla or if the mysterious mammoth insect from another millennium faces off against everyone’s favorite gargantuan green lizard in the sequel to that oh-so-unforgettable1998 version of “Godzilla.”

I can see the billboards now: “Y2K: It’s buildup is as big as this bus.”

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