IT MAY BE HARD TO IMAGINE, BUT there actually was a time when "tornado chasing" was not a part of our collective vocabulary. Now, with Twister whirling past $200 million at the box office, Hollywood is already chasing the next natural disaster: volcanoes.
In early June, director Roger Donaldson (Species) started cameras rolling on Universal's Dante's Peak, starring Pierce Brosnan as a volcanologist and The Terminator's Linda Hamilton as the mayor of fictional Dante's Peak, where a long-dormant mountain is ready to rumble. This month, shooting begins on Fox's Volcano, starring Tommy Lee Jones, in which, says director Mick Jackson (The Bodyguard), "the people of Los Angeles lay aside their quarrels and jealousies to fight the common enemy"—lava, that is.
Shooting two films about the same subject is often not such a hot idea. In 1991, Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves helped cause a Robin Hood film starring Patrick Bergin to give up its U.S. theatrical release. And the threat of 1995's virus thriller Outbreak forced a competing project, The Hot Zone, to be shelved. This time the word from all concerned is that the two movies can happily coexist. "Volcano is a more traditional disaster movie," says Peak producer Gale Anne Hurd. "Ours is more of a scientific adventure film." Volcano's Jackson claims he's "not conscious of any direct rivalry."
Audiences, however, may feel that a little lava goes a long way: Volcano and Dante's Peak are both set for release next summer. As if that weren't enough, there are two floods and a forest fire in film development, and one called Tsunami in which a tidal wave heads for San Francisco. Get your protective gear ready!