The Day After Tomorrow is a 2004 American science-fiction film that depicts the catastrophic effects of both global warming and global cooling in a series of extreme weather events that usher in a new ice age. It did well in the box office, grossing $542,771,772 internationally. It is the second highest grossing movie not to be #1 in the US box office (behind My Big Fat Greek Wedding). The movie was filmed in Montreal, and is the highest grossing Hollywood film in history to be filmed in Canada (if adjusted for inflation).
The Day After Tomorrow premiered in Mexico City on May 17, 2004, but it was also shown to contestants on the reality television series Big Brother Australia beforehand, which is not classified as the premiere for the movie. It was released worldwide from May 26 to May 28 except in South Korea and Japan where it was released June 4 and June 5, respectively. The film was originally planned for release in summer 2003. The film made $110,000,000 in DVD sales, bringing its total film gross to $652,771,772.
Jack Hall is (Dennis Quaid) in Antarctica with two colleagues, Frank and Jason (Jay O. Sanders and Dash Mihok), drilling for ice core samples on the Larsen Ice Shelf for the NOAA when the ice shelf breaks off from the rest of the continent. Jack presents his findings on global warming at a United Nations conference where diplomats, including the Vice-President of the United States, (Kenneth Welsh) are unconvinced by Jack's theory.
Jack's concerns resonate with Professor Terry Rapson (Ian Holm) of the Hedland Climate Research Centre in Scotland. Two buoys in the North Atlantic simultaneously show a massive drop in water temperature, and Rapson concludes that melting of the polar ice has begun disrupting the North Atlantic current. He calls Jack, whose paleoclimatological weather model holds reconstructional data of the palaeoclimate change that caused the first Ice Age, to predict what will happen. Jack believed that the events would not happen for many years, but he, Frank, Jason, and NASA's meteorologist Janet Tokada (Tamlyn Tomita) build a forecast model with his, Rapson's, and Tokada's data.
Across the world, violent weather causes mass destruction. The U.S. President (Perry King), authorizes the FAA to suspend air traffic over the United States due to severe turbulence. As three RAF helicopters fly to evacuate the British Royal Family, they enter the eye of a massive hurricane-like superstorm, that causes a temperature drop below −150 °F (−101.1 °C) that freezes their fuel lines and rotors, causing them to crash.
Jack's son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is in New York City for an academic competition with his friends Brian and Laura (Arjay Smith and Emmy Rossum). During the competition, the weather becomes increasingly violent with strong winds and torrential rains. Sam calls his father, promising to be on the next train home. However, the storm worsens, forcing subways and Grand Central Station to close. A tidal wave half the height of the Statue of Liberty hits Manhattan, putting the island under several feet of water. Sam and his friends seek refuge in the New York Public Library.
Survivors in the Northern United States are forced to flee south, with some Americans illegally crossing the border into Mexico. After advising the Executive Office of the President of the United States to evacuate half the country, Jack sets off for Manhattan to find his son, accompanied by Frank and Jason. Their truck crashes into a snow-covered tractor-trailer just past Philadelphia, so the group continues on snowshoes. During the journey, Frank falls through the glass roof of a snowbound shopping mall. As Jason and Jack try to pull Frank up, the glass under them continues to crack; Frank sacrifices himself by cutting the rope.
Inside the library, Sam advises everyone of his father's instruction to stay indoors. Few listen, and the small group that remains burns books to keep warm and breaks the library's vending machine for food. Laura is afflicted with blood poisoning, so Sam, Brian, and J.D. search for penicillin in a Russian cargo ship that drifted inland. The eye of the superstorm begins to pass over the city with its −150 °F (−101.1 °C) temperatures, and the entire New York skyline begins to freeze. The three return to the library with medicine, food and supplies, barely making it to safety.
During the deep freeze, Jack and Jason take shelter in an abandoned Wendy's, then resume their journey after the storm dissipates, finally arriving in New York City. They find the library buried in snow, but find Sam's group alive and are rescued by helicopters. The new President orders search and rescue teams to look for other survivors, having been given hope by the survival of Sam's group. The movie ends with two astronauts looking down at the view of the Earth from the International Space Station, showing a majority of the northern hemisphere covered in ice, and a drastic reduction in the pollution content.