'San Andreas' set to shake up box office despite faults

Thu May 28, 2015 7:44pm EDT
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By Alicia Avila

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director Brad Peyton grilled scientists, scoured earthquake footage and submerged sets in one of the world's biggest water tanks to create the biggest earthquake ever to hit California in his new film "San Andreas."

That effort might pay off at the box office, where the Warner Bros film is expected to be the top earner in its debut this weekend, with an estimated $40 million in ticket sales.

"We spent a lot of time grounding the experience and researching what a tsunami did, what it looked like, earthquakes, different types of earthquakes," said the Canadian director.

Critics are impressed with the spectacle. The scientists? Not so much.

"OMG! A chasm? If the fault could open up, there'd be no friction. With no friction, there'd be no earthquake," tweeted U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones during the premiere Tuesday.

Jones noted that the San Andreas Fault could never trigger a tsunami, and that only one in 16 buildings are expected to sustain serious damage if the fault were to set off a quake.

No matter. In Hollywood, artistic license is written into just about every script.

Besides, many moviegoers, even in California, do not know what a big quake feels like. The last one to hit a major city in the Golden State was the 1994 Northridge quake near Los Angeles, a magnitude 6.7.   Continued...

Cast member Dwayne Johnson poses at the premiere of "San Andreas" in Hollywood, California May 26, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni