Midway (2019 film)

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Midway Movie HD Poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoland Emmerich
Written byWes Tooke
Produced by
CinematographyRobby Baumgartner
Edited byAdam Wolfe
Music by
Distributed by
Release date
  • November 8, 2019 (2019-11-08) (United States)
Running time
138 minutes
  • Germany
  • United States
  • Canada
  • English
  • Japanese
Budget$100 million[3]
Box office$126.7 million[4]

Midway is a 2019 war film about the Battle of Midway, a turning point in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The film was directed by Roland Emmerich, who also produced the film with Harald Kloser, and was written by Wes Tooke. The film stars Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Tadanobu Asano, Darren Criss and Woody Harrelson.

The film was a passion project of Emmerich's, and he had trouble getting financial support for the film before finally raising sufficient funds and officially announcing the project in 2017. Much of the cast joined in summer 2018, and filming began in Hawaii that September. Some filming also took place in Montreal. With a production budget of $100 million, it is to date one of the most expensive independent films of all time.

Midway was theatrically released by Lionsgate in the United States on November 8, 2019 to received mixed reviews from critics, and was praised for its historical accuracy. The film grossed over $126 million worldwide against its $100 million budget.


In December 1937 in Tokyo, American naval attaché intelligence officer Lieutenant Commander Edwin T. Layton and his counterpart are discussing the US and Japanese positions in the Pacific Ocean during a state function. Layton is warned by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto that if the Japanese oil supply is threatened by the US, the Japanese will take immediate action.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese use their carrier fleet to strike at Pearl Harbor. The attack leads the US to enter World War II. Naval aviator Lieutenant Dick Best and the Air Group (CAG) of the carrier USS Enterprise fail to find the Japanese carrier fleet, exacerbating his rivalry with his commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Eugene E. Lindsey. Admiral Yamamoto, with the support of Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, propose his most audacious plan yet—the invasion of Midway Island using the four available carriers of the Kido Butai, but are overruled by the Army. Enterprise launches raids against the Marshall Islands in February 1942. During an attack by Mitsubishi G3M Nell bombers, one crippled Nell turns back towards the ship in a suicide ramming attempt but Aviation Machinist's Mate Third Class Bruno Gaido shoots the aircraft down from a parked Dauntless. The crashing bomber slices Gaido's Dauntless in half but he survives. Vice Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, impressed by Gaido's courage, promotes him to Aviation Machinist's Mate First Class. In April 1942, following Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle's raid on the Japanese mainland, Yamamoto, Yamaguchi and Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo are finally allowed to begin their plan to attack Midway.

In May 1942, following the Battle of the Coral Sea, Layton, along with Joseph Rochefort and his cryptology team begin intercepting messages concerning a location the Japanese identify as "AF". Layton speaks with Admiral Chester Nimitz, who informs him that Washington believes "AF" to be a target in the South Pacific. Layton disagrees, believing the intended target to be Midway Atoll. After meeting with Rochefort, Nimitz instructs the team to find a way to definitively prove that "AF" is Midway. After Layton instructs Midway to telegraph in the clear (unencrypted) that they are suffering a water shortage, cryptologists working for Rochefort intercept Japanese communications concerning water shortages on "AF", confirming that "AF" is indeed Midway.

In preparation for an ambush of the Japanese fleet, Nimitz orders carriers USS Hornet and Enterprise recalled from the Coral Sea and demands that the damaged USS Yorktown be made ready for combat operations. During the preparations, Best is briefly demoralized after one of his proteges crashes during a takeoff, but he receives encouragement from the Commander of the Air Group (CAG) of the Enterprise, Wade McCluskey. Best and Lindsey set aside their differences and work together to prepare for the attack. Halsey is put on shore leave by Nimitz after receiving a bad case of the shingles and is temporarily replaced by Raymond A. Spruance.

On June 4, the Japanese launch an air attack against Midway. Initial attempts by US land-based aircraft to strike at the Japanese fleet carriers fail despite a crashing bomber narrowly missing the bridge of the Akagi. Nagumo and Captain Minoru Genda are left shaken by the Americans’ unexpected bravery. The Japanese fleet learn of the presence of the American carriers. American submarine USS Nautilus unsuccessfully attacks a Japanese carrier and is chased off by Japanese destroyer Arashi. Lindsey and other American torpedo squadrons attack the Japanese fleet but are shot down. Realising that the attacks are preventing the fleet from launching their counterstrike, Yamaguchi orders Nagumo to launch his strike as soon as he can. Best suffers from respiratory issues resulting in coughing up blood after breathing a bad mix of oxygen but leads his and McCluskey's squadrons into battle. Upon spotting the Arashi, McClusky correctly infers the Japanese destroyer is rushing back to the main Japanese fleet and leads his planes to follow its course. Arriving to find the Japanese Combat Air Patrol out of position due to the torpedo attacks, the dive-bombers score several hits on Akagi, Kaga and Sōryū, resulting in fires and further explosions due to unsecured ordnance. Nagumo, demoralized and in a state of shock, is persuaded by Genda to transfer his flag to a cruiser. Frank Woodrow O'Flaherty and Gaido are shot down, picked up by the Japanese and executed. Yamaguchi, aboard Hiryu, who is more willing to fight, launches a strike wave that succeeds in crippling Yorktown, prompting Enterprise and Hornet to launch their remaining aircraft. Best leads the squadron, which successfully heavily damage the Hiryu. Admiral Yamaguchi and Captain Tomeo Kaku go down with their command as Hiryu is scuttled.

Yamamoto receives news that his carrier force has been destroyed. After learning that the American fleet has withdrawn, thus depriving him of the chance to use his main force of battleships to win a night battle against the American fleet, he orders a general withdrawal. At Pearl Harbor, Rochefort intercepts the Japanese order to withdraw and passes it to Layton, who then informs Nimitz and his elated staff. Best, who is unable to fly again due to his lung problems, later diagnosed as tuberculosis, walks into his family's waiting arms.



Actor Role Notes
Ed Skrein Lieutenant Dick Best Executive officer, Bombing Squadron 6, USS Enterprise
Patrick Wilson Lieutenant Commander Edwin Layton Intelligence officer, US Pacific Fleet
Luke Evans Lieutenant Commander Wade McClusky Air group commander, USS Enterprise
Aaron Eckhart Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle USAAF flight commander, embarked on USS Hornet
Nick Jonas Aviation Machinist's Mate Bruno Gaido Aviation crew, USS Enterprise
Luke Kleintank Lieutenant Clarence Dickinson Pilot, Scouting Squadron 6, USS Enterprise
Darren Criss Lieutenant Commander Eugene Lindsey Commander, Torpedo Squadron 6, USS Enterprise
Keean Johnson Chief Aviation Radioman James Murray Radio operator, Bombing Squadron 6, USS Enterprise
Alexander Ludwig Lieutenant Roy Pearce Watch officer, USS Arizona
Brennan Brown Commander Joseph Rochefort Chief Cryptanalyst, Fleet Radio Unit Pacific
Geoffrey Blake Commander John Ford Film director stationed at Midway Island on Special Duty
Jake Manley Ensign Willie West Pilot, Bombing Squadron 6, USS Enterprise
Mark Rolston Admiral Ernest King Chief of Naval Operations
Jake Weber Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance Commander, Task Force 16
Eric Davis Captain Miles Browning Halsey's chief of staff, USS Enterprise
David Hewlett Admiral Husband Kimmel Commander-in-chief, US Pacific Fleet
Dennis Quaid Vice Admiral William "Bull" Halsey Commander, Carrier Division Two
Woody Harrelson Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Commander-in-chief, US Pacific Fleet
Brandon Sklenar Ensign George "Tex" Gay Pilot, Torpedo Squadron 8, USS Hornet
James Carpinello Lieutenant Commander William Brockman Captain, USS Nautilus


Actor Role Notes
Etsushi Toyokawa Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto Commander-in-chief, Combined Fleet
Tadanobu Asano Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi Commander, 2nd Carrier Division
Jun Kunimura Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo Commander, 1st Air Fleet (Kido Butai)
Peter Shinkoda Commander Genda Minoru Air Operations Officer, 1st Air Fleet
Hiromoto Ida Prime Minister Tojo
Hiroaki Shintani Emperor Hirohito


Actor Role Notes
Rachael Perrell Fosket Dagne Layton Edwin Layton's wife
Kenny Leu Zhu Xuesan Chinese school teacher, who visited the US in 1992
Mandy Moore Anne Best Dick Best's wife
Dean Schaller Jack MacKenzie Jr. Ford's cameraman


On May 23, 2017, it was reported that Roland Emmerich would be directing the World War II film Midway.[5] Due to its potential lofty budget (with estimates putting its needed cost at $125 million), Emmerich had trouble getting the film greenlit. When no major studio would bankroll the project, he cut down on potential battle sequences and turned to individuals for the funds, resulting in $76 million; he then got an additional $24 million in equity, mostly from Chinese investors, resulting in the film's $100 million budget. It is one of the most costly independent films ever made.[3] Emmerich had previously attempted to mount the film at Sony Pictures in the 1990s, with William Goldman becoming interested in the project. However, as with the final rendition, executives balked at the proposed $100 million budget ($152 million by 2019 inflation), and Emmerich moved on to direct The Patriot.[6]

Harald Kloser also produced the film.[1]

In April 2018, Woody Harrelson and Mandy Moore joined the ensemble cast for the film.[7] In July 2018, Luke Evans was cast in the film to play Lieutenant Commander Wade McClusky, who was awarded the Navy Cross for his role in the Battle of Midway.[8] Robby Baumgartner was hired as cinematographer.[9] August saw the additions of Patrick Wilson,[10] Ed Skrein,[11] Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Tadanobu Asano, Dennis Quaid, and others to the cast.[12] Darren Criss, Alexander Ludwig, and Brandon Sklenar were cast in September.[13][14][15] Filming began on September 5, 2018, in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was also shot in Montreal, Quebec.[9]

In November 2018, it was announced that VFX company Scanline VFX will be the main VFX vendor, and that Pixomondo had signed on to provide additional visual effects.


A photo from a press junket for the film

The film was released on November 8, 2019, Veterans Day weekend.[16]


A teaser poster for the film was released on June 4, 2019, which was also the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.[17] A set of 13 still photographs depicting scenes from the film was released on June 26, 2019, and the first trailer for the film was released the following day (June 27).[18] The second and final trailer of the film was released on September 12, 2019, with the film's theatrical poster on September 25.[19][20] All-in-all, Lionsgate spent around $40 million promoting the film.[21]

Home media[edit]

Midway was released on Digital HD on February 4, 2020, and on DVD and Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray on February 18, 2020.[22]


Box office[edit]

Midway grossed $56.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $68.5 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $125.4 million, against a production budget of $100 million.[4]

In the United States and Canada, Midway was released alongside Doctor Sleep, Playing with Fire, and Last Christmas, and was projected to gross around $15 million from 3,242 theaters in its opening weekend.[23][24] The film made $6.3 million on its first day (including $925,000 from Thursday night previews). It went on to debut to $17.5 million, beating box office expectations and upsetting projected winner Doctor Sleep by finishing first at the box office.[21][25][24] In its second weekend the film made $8.8 million, finishing second behind newcomer Ford v Ferrari, before making $4.7 million and finishing in fifth in its third weekend.[26][27]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 42% based on 169 reviews and an average rating of 5.2/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Midway revisits a well-known story with modern special effects and a more balanced point of view, but its screenplay isn't quite ready for battle."[28] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100 based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[29] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 4 out of 5 stars, with 58% saying they would definitely recommend it.[21]

Barry Hertz of The Globe and Mail gave the film a score of 2/4 stars, describing it as "a Second World War epic that runs a comparatively paltry 138 minutes yet feels about five times as long", concluding that the film was "a choppy bore, its main source of intrigue centred around whatever New Jersey-ese accent British actor Ed Skrein is attempting as dive bomber Richard Best."[30] Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post gave the film a score of 2.5/4 stars, saying that it "tells a story that’s vividly and viscerally rendered, with all the entertainment value of a big, old-fashioned war movie", but added: "the kiss-kiss never really registers with quite the same impact as the bang-bang."[31] Wendy Ide of The Observer gave the film a score of 2/5 stars, writing: "Every tired war movie cliche is unearthed in a film that brings nothing new but will no doubt please fans of men in uniform yelling at explosions."[32]

Paul Byrnes of The Sydney Morning Herald gave the film a score of 3/5 stars, describing it as "one of [Roland Emmerich's] better films", but added: "There are a number of earlier versions to pick from, including John Ford's original 18-minute Oscar-winning documentary. We didn't need a new one, unless he had something new to say or a new way to say it. To both questions, the answer is no."[33] Owen Gleiberman of Variety wrote: "The film's drama is B-movie basic. But the destructive colliding metal-on-metal inferno of what war is what makes Midway a picture worth seeing."[34] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times described the film as being "so square, so old-school and old-fashioned, it almost feels avant-garde", adding: "It aims to celebrate heroism, sacrifice, determination and grit, and if you don’t like that it really does not care."[35]

Historical accuracy[edit]

While the film takes some artistic license, Emmerich and Tooke were both adamant about being historically accurate, and Midway received praise from some combat veterans and historians for being more accurate of events than Midway (1976) and Pearl Harbor (2001). Naval History and Heritage Command director and retired Navy Rear Admiral Sam Cox said: "Despite some of the 'Hollywood' aspects, this is still the most realistic movie about naval combat ever made."[36]

Several seemingly "Hollywood-ized" events depicted in the film, such as Bruno Gaido sprinting into a parked plane in an effort to shoot down a crippled plane attempting to crash into the Enterprise, then getting on-spot promoted, occurred as shown, though according to USA Today, "Gaido hid after shooting the plane down, afraid he was going to get in trouble for leaving his battle station. 'They had to hunt him down and bring him to Halsey', says [Retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Samuel J. Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command]."[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gleiberman, Owen (November 6, 2019). "Film Review: 'Midway'". Variety. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  2. ^ "Catalogue - Elevation Pictures". Elevation Pictures. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Pamela McClintock (November 8, 2019). "Box Office: 'Midway' Downs 'Doctor Sleep' in Surprise Upset". The Hollywood Reporter.
  4. ^ a b "Midway (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  5. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (May 23, 2017). "Bona Film Group Stakes $80M On Roland Emmerich/Mark Gordon WWII Battle Pic 'Midway:' Cannes". Deadline. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  6. ^ Donnelly, Matt (October 31, 2019). "Roland Emmerich Just Made a $100 Million Indie Film. Will It Work?". Variety.
  7. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (May 2, 2018). "Roland Emmerich's WWII Epic 'Midway' Sets Sail With Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore & AGC Studios — Cannes Hot Pic". Deadline. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  8. ^ Kit, Borys (July 3, 2018). "Luke Evans Joins Roland Emmerich's Naval Action Movie 'Midway' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  9. ^ a b Marc, Christopher (July 24, 2018). "Roland Emmerich's WWII Epic 'Midway' Adds 'The Guest' Cinematographer - GWW". thegww.com. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  10. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 8, 2018). "Patrick Wilson Boards Roland Emmerich's 'Midway'". Deadline.
  11. ^ Kroll, Justin (August 9, 2018). "Ed Skrein Joins Roland Emmerich's World War II Film 'Midway' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  12. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (August 10, 2018). "Roland Emmerich's 'Midway' Enlists Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Tadanobu Asano, Keean Johnson, Ahead Of Fall Shoot". Deadline.
  13. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (September 12, 2018). "Emmy-Nominated 'Versace' Star Darren Criss Boards Roland Emmerich's 'Midway'". Deadline.
  14. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 13, 2018). "'Vikings' Star Alexander Ludwig Joins Roland Emmerich's 'Midway' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  15. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (September 19, 2018). "Brandon Sklenar Joins Roland Emmerich's 'Midway'; Tanner Beard Cast In 'We Summon The Darkness'". Deadline.
  16. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 5, 2018). "Roland Emmerich's WWII Epic 'Midway' To Open Veterans Day Weekend 2019". Deadline. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  17. ^ Barber, James (June 4, 2019). "Take a First Look at This Fall's WWII Epic 'Midway'". Military.com. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  18. ^ Truitt, Brian. "Exclusive: Watch the first trailer for 'Midway,' Roland Emmerich's World War II epic". USA Today.
  19. ^ Hemmert, Kylie (September 12, 2019). "New Midway Trailer: The Courage of a Few Will Change the Fate of the World". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  20. ^ Parlevliet, Mirko (September 25, 2019). "New Midway Poster: The Roland Emmerich Film Opening Nov. 8". Vital Thrills. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  21. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 10, 2019). "How 'Doctor Sleep' Went Into A Coma At The B.O. With Dreary $14M+ Opening, Following Surprise $17M+ Attack By 'Midway' – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  22. ^ "Midway DVD Release Date February 18, 2020".
  23. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 6, 2019). "'Doctor Sleep' Eyes $25M-$30M Box Office Start, Will Turn Out Lights On 'Terminator: Dark Fate'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  24. ^ a b McNary, Denis (November 8, 2019). "Box Office: 'Midway' Could Defeat 'Doctor Sleep' With $21 Million". Variety. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  25. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (November 10, 2019). "'Midway' Defeats 'Doctor Sleep' in Surprise Box Office Upset". Variety. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  26. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 17, 2019). "'Ford v Ferrari' Cruising To $30M+, 'Charlie's Angels' Kicked Out Of Heaven With $8M+ Start". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 17, 2019.
  27. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 24, 2019). "'Frozen 2' Thaws Frigid B.O. Marketplace With $130M+, Smashing November Animated Pic Opening Records". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  28. ^ "Midway (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  29. ^ "Midway (2019) Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  30. ^ Hertz, Barry (November 6, 2019). "Review: Choppy and clichéd Second World War epic Midway waves the white flag of defeat". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  31. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (November 6, 2019). "Review | 'Midway' is a big, old-fashioned war movie, with one thing missing: human beings". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  32. ^ Ide, Wendy (November 10, 2019). "Midway review – sinks like a depth charge". The Guardian. Retrieved October 7, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  33. ^ Byrnes, Paul (January 29, 2020). "Midway review: More action distraction than history". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  34. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (November 6, 2019). "Film Review: 'Midway'". Variety. Retrieved October 7, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  35. ^ Turan, Kenneth (November 7, 2019). "Review: 'Midway' celebrates heroism with an old-fashioned approach to the epic war drama". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 7, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  36. ^ Johnny Brayson (November 6, 2019). "This Historically Accurate WWII Movie Is The Anti-'Pearl Harbor'". Bustle. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  37. ^ Bryan Alexander (February 15, 2020). "How accurate is Roland Emmerich's WWII movie starring Nick Jonas?". USA Today. Retrieved July 10, 2020.

External links[edit]