Twister spurred interest in tornado chasing and is set for a sequel.
Almost 27 years to the day after the release of the blockbuster film Twister, its sequel, titled Twisters, began filming in Oklahoma this May. The first movie made over $41 million at the box office on its opening weekend and grossed $495 million worldwide. Most notably, it was also the first film released on DVD in the United States. Its sequel marks yet another Hollywood production being made in the Sooner State.
Twister put Oklahoma and Tornado Alley back in the spotlight in 1996 when it showed the world the excitement and dangers of storm chasing. “The first time I saw Twister was in Wichita, Kansas, on opening day,” said Oklahoma resident, photographer and storm chaser enthusiast Dave Schweitzer. “I will never forget when Rabbit said, ‘There’s a big crease right through Wichita,’ and the entire theater erupted in applause. I’ve always loved the weather since I could remember, and this was the ultimate movie for me.”
But the blockbuster film also illuminated that while we know much about tornadoes, it pales in comparison to what we don’t know. Once a tornado touches down, its movement can be impossible to predict, and many people rely on reports provided by storm chasers.
“One of the biggest dangers is all the people chasing storms and all the vehicles clogging roads, which makes it harder to find or use your planned exit route,” Schweitzer said. “I think the rush comes from the unknown, the power of Mother Nature and the sheer beauty of something not many get to see. It’s all so exciting, but also very heart-wrenching, knowing that a tornado can destroy so many people’s lives.”
The film did, however, do a decent job depicting the planning, the anticipation and the risks of chasing these storms. “One time, we were just out trying to get some lightning pics of a storm to our north that was moving east,” Schweitzer said. “The storm started to collapse, but we were hit with about 80 mph winds from a gust front. On the other hand, there are some days when a storm produces nothing, which can be disappointing, especially if you drove a long way to get there.”
The dangers of storm chasing are not limited to direct contact with a tornado, but also include being in the path of an impending storm. Violent storms such as squall lines and supercells bring high winds and the threat of lightning, hail and flying debris. Located in the Great Plains, Oklahoma’s vast, wide-open space makes it ideal for forming large, tornado-producing storms, and therefore the perfect setting for a natural disaster film.
Production for Twisters continues in downtown OKC and by Ambli Entertainment and Universal. The movie is directed by Lee Isaac Chung, who also directed the Oklahoma-filmed Minari. Twisters will star Glen Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Anthony Ramos.
“Twister is an amazing movie,” Schweitzer said. “Some parts of the movie, such as the combine scene, do not realistically depict how debris would fly around. Being in an F5 tornado, the debris would have killed the characters. But that made it exciting, and I will keep watching it forever.”
He continued, “When I first heard about Twisters coming out, I told my wife that we were going to go see it in the theater. We haven’t been to a movie theater since 2015, so that says something.”
Twisters is scheduled to open in theaters July 19, 2024.