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Twister Director Jan de Bont Explains Why His Storm-Chasing Classic "Cannot Be Remade" Today

Like Jurassic Park before it, Twister struck a fine balance between practical effects and burgeoning CGI.

By Josh Weiss
Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt run from a tornado in Twister (1996)

In the summer of 1996, just three years after the release of Jurassic Park, the Steven Spielberg-produced Twister struck a similarly elegant balance between practical effects and fledgling CGI.

The tale of brazen storm chasers willing to put their lives on the line to document tornadoes (Michael Crichton penned the screenplay with his then-wife Anne-Marie Martin) proved to be a swirling success, racking up close to half a billion dollars at the global box office and two Oscar nominations for Visual Effects and Sound. But according to its director, Jan de Bont (Speed), the film's lightning — or tornado, rather — in a bottle could not be replicated today.

Why Twister could not "be remade" today

Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in Twister (1996)

Recently sitting down with Inverse, de Bont explained that many of Twister's effects were done in-camera, a practice that is almost always eschewed in favor of safer and cheaper CGI

RELATED: Helen Hunt says 'Twister' sequel would have had HBCU students shooting rockets at tornadoes

"When things fell from the sky, there were real things falling from a helicopter,” he recalled. "If you film a car escaping a tornado in a hail storm, it was real ice that came at us. It’s a movie that cannot be remade… That would never, ever happen again."

And while the movie did make use of digital wizardry, the emerging field made it both costly in terms of money and time.

"Every shot was a fortune,” the director added. "It would take three days to transfer all that information onto film. Right now it’s fast, but in the beginning, it was super slow. And we had to be so careful to get the shots done before the movie opened."

Is Twister getting a sequel?

Yes, it is! The follow-up, which aptly bears the title of Twisters, is slated to rip the roof off of theaters everywhere on July 19, 2024 — nearly three decades after the original hit the big screen. Academy Award nominee Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) is directing the sequel, working off a screenplay from Mark L. Smith (The Midnight Sky).

"It made so much money for the studio," de Bont said. "Sooner or later they would do it." While he was not consulted for the sequel, the filmmaker theorized that Chung will most likely bring "a really different approach" to the material. "That’s the same with [Greta Gerwig] of Barbie," he added. "Nobody would ever have thought she’d direct that movie and make it so successful."

RELATED: Predicting tornadoes and flying cows: The science behind 'Twister'

To date, the sequel has cast that includes Anthony Ramos (Transformers: Rise of the Beasts), Daisy Edgar-Jones (Where the Crawdads Sing), Glen Powell (Top Gun: Maverick), Brandon Perea (Nope), Maura Tierney (The Affair), Harry Hadden-Paton (Downton Abbey), Sasha Lane (American Honey), Kiernan Shipka (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Daryl McCormack (The Wheel of Time), Nik Dodani (Atypical), David Corenswet (Pearl), Tunde Adebimpe (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and Katy O’Brian (The Mandalorian).

Frank Marshall will produce on behalf of the Kennedy/Marshall Company, the banner he founded with his wife (and current Lucasfilm head honcho) Kathleen Kennedy. The latter produced the 1996 original alongside Spielberg, whose enthusiasm for Smith's Twisters script led to the film getting fast-tracked, Deadline reported last fall.

Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and Warner Bros. are co-financing the project.

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