White House Down

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White House Down
White House Down poster with billing block.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoland Emmerich
Produced byRoland Emmerich
Bradley J. Fischer
Harald Kloser
James Vanderbilt
Larry Franco
Laeta Kalogridis
Written byJames Vanderbilt
StarringChanning Tatum
Jamie Foxx
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Jason Clarke
Richard Jenkins
James Woods
Music byHarald Kloser
Thomas Wander
CinematographyAnna Foerster
Edited byAdam Wolfe
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • June 28, 2013 (2013-06-28) (United States)
Running time
131 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$150 million[2]
Box office$205.4 million[2]

White House Down is a 2013 American political action thriller film directed by Roland Emmerich about an assault on the White House by a paramilitary group and the Capitol Police Officer who tries to stop them. The film's screenplay is by James Vanderbilt, and it stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, with Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Jason Clarke, Joey King, and Richard Jenkins in supporting roles.

The film was released on June 28, 2013 and grossed US$205 million worldwide.[2]


President of the United States James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) generates controversy over a proposed peace treaty between the allied nations to remove military forces from the Middle East. Divorced US Capitol Police officer John Cale (Channing Tatum) is currently assigned to Speaker of the House Eli Raphelson (Richard Jenkins) after saving his nephew's life during a tour in Afghanistan. Cale hopes to impress his politically obsessed daughter Emily (Joey King) by getting a job interview for the Secret Service Presidential Detail, while also getting tickets for the two of them to tour the White House. However, his interviewer, Secret Service Special Agent Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a former college acquaintance of his, believes him to be unqualified due to his disrespect towards authority, and subsequently deems him ineligible for the job.

Disguised as a janitor, a man detonates a bomb at the center of the US Capitol building, causing the White House to be on lockdown. Finnerty is sent to escort the Speaker to an underground command center in the Pentagon, while Vice President of the United States Alvin Hammond (Michael Murphy) is taken aboard Air Force One. At the same time, mercenaries led by Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke), having infiltrated the White House by disguising themselves as audio-visual repairmen, quickly overwhelm the Secret Service, take the tour group hostage and seize the White House. Cale manages to escape to go find his daughter, who was separated from him during the tour. Retiring Head of the Presidential Detail Martin Walker (James Woods) escorts Sawyer and his detail to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. Once they gain access, Walker kills his detail, revealing himself to be the real leader of the attack on the White House. He wants vengeance against Sawyer after a botched black ops mission resulted in the death of his son. Cale kills a mercenary, takes his gun and radio, and rescues Sawyer.

Walker and Stenz bring in Skip Tyler (Jimmi Simpson) to hack into the defense system, but still require Sawyer to activate the nuclear football. One of the mercenaries, Carl Killick (Kevin Rankin), catches Emily recording a video of the mercenaries and takes her hostage. Cale and Sawyer contact the command structure, which uses Emily's video to discover the identities of the mercenaries, who used to work for various government agencies. Cale and Sawyer try to escape via a tunnel but find the exit gate rigged with explosives. They are forced into the garage and escape in the presidential limo, which is attacked by Stenz and flips into the White House pool. After Sawyer and Cale are presumed dead in an explosion, Hammond is sworn in as the 47th President of the United States. Cale and Sawyer are still alive and learn that Hammond ordered an aerial incursion to take back the White House, but the mercenaries shoot down the choppers. Having already learned of Emily from the video, Stenz takes her to Walker in the Oval Office. Tyler finishes hacking into NORAD and launches a missile to shoot down Air Force One, killing President Hammond and everyone else on board. Raphelson is sworn in as the 48th President of the United States and orders an air strike on the White House.

Sawyer surrenders himself to Walker to save Emily. Walker attempts to force Sawyer to use the football to launch the nuclear missiles against the various cities in Iran; Walker blames the Iranian regime for killing his son in combat. Sawyer refuses at first, while Cale sets various rooms on fire as a diversion. Down in the tunnels, Tyler inadvertently triggers the explosives and dies when they detonate. After killing most of the remaining mercenaries and freeing the hostages, Cale confronts Stenz and blows him up with a grenade belt during a fight. Sawyer attacks Walker, who uses Sawyer's handprint to activate the football. Walker locks Iran's targets with the football when Cale enters the Oval Office by crashing a reinforced Chevrolet through the wall. When Walker reaches to launch the missiles, Cale kills him with the car's rotary cannon. Emily waves a presidential flag on the front lawn, convincing the incoming fighter planes to call off the air strike.

Cale realizes that Raphelson was Walker's accomplice in orchestrating the attack, motivated to take the President's Office after killing Sawyer in exchange for giving Walker the nuclear codes. He is arrested for treason. Sawyer names Cale as his new special agent and takes him and Emily on a personal aerial tour of DC. President Sawyer receives word that the nations of Russia, Iran, France and many others have agreed to his Peace Deal after learning of that day's events at the White House, calling for an end to all wars.



White House Down is directed by Roland Emmerich and based on a screenplay by James Vanderbilt, who is also one of the film's producers. Sony Pictures purchased Vanderbilt's spec script in March 2012 for $3 million, in what The Hollywood Reporter called "one of the biggest spec sales in quite a while". The journal said the script was similar "tonally and thematically" to the films Die Hard and Air Force One.[14] In the following April, Sony hired Roland Emmerich as director.[15] Emmerich began filming in July 2012 at the La Cité Du Cinéma in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[16] Cinematographer Anna Foerster shot the film with Arri Alexa Plus digital cameras.[17]

In 2012, Sony competed with Millennium Films, who were producing Olympus Has Fallen (also about a takeover of the White House) to complete casting and to begin filming.[18]


White House Down was originally scheduled for a November 1, 2013[19] release, but was moved up to a June 28, 2013 release.

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on October 22, 2013.[20]


Critical response[edit]

White House Down received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 50%, based on 191 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.4/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "White House Down benefits from the leads' chemistry, but director Roland Emmerich smothers the film with narrative clichés and choppily edited action."[21] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score to reviews, the film has an average score of 52 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[22]

Roth Cornet of IGN gives it a 6.5/10, concluding: "White House Down is a pretty silly rehashing of previously tread action movie territory, but if you're willing to laugh along with (or even at) it, it can be a highly entertaining experience."[23]

Andrew Chan of the Film Critics Circle of Australia writes, "I am not entirely sure, whether I should be happy or sad that I laughed when someone got shot or bombed, but such is the manner of how the film is played out. Therefore, I prefer Olympus for this one."[24]

Richard Roeper, however, gave the film an F, stating that "Everyone in White House Down is an idiot, clinically insane, a cliché, or a vehicle for shameless exploitation." He later named it the worst film of 2013.[25]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $73.1 million in the United States and $132.3 million internationally for a total gross of $205.4 million, against a budget of $150 million.[2]

On its opening weekend in the U.S., the film disappointed and came in at 4th at the box office. It earned $24.9 million, less than March's similarly themed Olympus Has Fallen ($30.4 million opening).[26] In its second weekend, the film made $13.4 million.[27]

In October 2013, Sony announced it lost $197 million for June, July, and August 2013, and largely blamed "the box office flop of the movie White House Down as a key reason for the weakness".[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "WHITE HOUSE DOWN (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d "White House Down (2013)". Box Office Mojo. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  3. ^ Kit, Borys (May 14, 2012). "Channing Tatum in Talks to Star in 'White House Down'". Variety.
  4. ^ Sneider, Jeff; Kroll, Justin (June 6, 2012). "Foxx nominated for 'White House Down'". Variety.
  5. ^ Sneider, Jeff; Kroll, Justin (June 7, 2012). "Maggie Gyllenhaal joins 'White House' staff". Variety.
  6. ^ Patten, Dominic (August 2, 2012). "Roland Emmerich's 'White House Down' Adds Jason Clarke To Cast". Deadline Hollywood.
  7. ^ Sneider, Jeff; Kroll, Justin (July 16, 2012). "Richard Jenkins joins 'White House Down'". Variety.
  8. ^ Sneider, Jeff (July 24, 2012). "Joey King 'Down' to play Tatum's daughter". Variety.
  9. ^ Kroll, Justin (July 9, 2012). "James Woods in talks for 'White House Down'". Variety.
  10. ^ Patten, Dominic (August 9, 2012). ""White House Down" Adds Michael Murphy". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (September 24, 2012). "Twilight Actress Joins 'White House Down,' 'Homefront'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  12. ^ Sneider, Jeff (August 3, 2012). "'White House Down' elects Lance Reddick". Variety.
  13. ^ Kit, Borys (August 10, 2012). "Garcelle Beauvais Joins 'White House Down'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  14. ^ Kit, Borys (March 30, 2012). "Sony Plunking Down $3 Million for 'White House Down' by James Vanderbilt". The Hollywood Reporter.
  15. ^ Fleming, Mike (April 2, 2012). "Roland Emmerich in Talks to Helm $3 Million Sony Spec 'White House Down'". Deadline Hollywood.
  16. ^ Kelly, Brendan (July 17, 2012). "Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and James Woods coming to town to shoot White House Down". The Gazette. Montreal.
  17. ^ Goldman, Michael (July 1, 2013). "Prime Target". American Cinematographer. Los Angeles, California, United States: American Society of Cinematographers. 94 (7): 34. ISSN 0002-7928.
  18. ^ Kit, Borys (April 10, 2012). "Antoine Fuqua Circling 'Olympus' as White House Thriller Race Heats Up". The Hollywood Reporter.
  19. ^ McClintock, Pamela (August 6, 2012). "Sony Moving 'White House Down' to Heart of Summer 2013". The Hollywood Reporter.
  20. ^ Rawden, Jessica (September 3, 2013). "White House Down Will Hit Blu-ray And DVD In November". cinemablend. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  21. ^ "White House Down (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  22. ^ "White House Down Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  23. ^ Roth Cornet. "White House Down". IGN. Ziff Davis Media. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  24. ^ Andrew Chan (29 August 2013). "White House Down". [HK Neo Reviews].
  25. ^ "White House Down Review". Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  26. ^ "Olympus Has Fallen (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  27. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for June 28–30, 2013". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  28. ^ Pfanner, Eric (October 31, 2013). "Sony Blames Box-Office Trouble for Its Quarterly Loss". New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2013.

External links[edit]