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
Channing Tatum
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 and co-produced by Roland Emmerich, written by James Vanderbilt and produced by Vanderbilt, Bradley J. Fischer, Harald Kloser, Larry Franco and Laeta Kalogridis. In the film, a divorced US Capitol Police officer named John Cale attempts rescuing both his daughter Emily and the President of the United States James Sawyer when a massively destructive terrorist assault occurs in the White House. The film stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Joey King, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, and James Woods.

Released on June 28, 2013 by Sony Pictures, White House Down received mixed reviews from critics toward the screenwriting and the cliched storyline, although the performances and action sequences were praised. The film was declared average and grossed over $205 million worldwide against budget of $150 million.[2] White House Down was one of two films released in 2013 that dealt with a terrorist attack on the White House; the other was Olympus Has Fallen, released three months earlier.


U.S. President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) makes a controversial proposal to remove military forces from the Middle East. Divorced Capitol Police officer John Cale (Channing Tatum) is assigned to Speaker of the House Eli Raphelson (Richard Jenkins), whose nephew he saved while serving in Afghanistan. Cale hopes to impress his daughter Emily (Joey King) by interviewing for the Secret Service Presidential Detail, getting tickets for them to tour the White House. His interviewer, Deputy Special Agent-in-Charge Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a college acquaintance, deems him unqualified for the job.

A bomb is detonated in the United States Capitol, sending the White House into lockdown. Finnerty escorts the Speaker to an underground command center in the Pentagon, while Vice President Alvin Hammond (Michael Murphy) is taken aboard Air Force One. A team of mercenaries disguised as video technicians led by ex-Delta Force operative Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke) infiltrate the White House and overwhelm the Secret Service, taking the tour group hostage in the Blue Room and seizing the building. Cale escapes to find Emily, separated during the tour. Retiring Head of the Presidential Detail Special Agent-in-Charge Martin Walker (James Woods) brings Sawyer to the PEOC beneath the Library. Inside, Walker kills Sawyer's detail, revealing himself as the leader of the attack, apparently seeking vengeance against Sawyer for a botched black ops mission in Iran the year prior that resulted in the death of Walker's son. Cale kills a mercenary, taking his weapon and radio, and rescues Sawyer after overhearing Walker's plans.

Walker brings in ex-NSA analyst Skip Tyler (Jimmi Simpson) to hack the defense system, but requires Sawyer to activate the nuclear football. Mercenary Carl Killick (Kevin Rankin) catches Emily filming the intruders on her phone and takes her hostage. Cale and Sawyer contact the command structure, using Emily's YouTube video to discover the mercenaries all formerly worked for government agencies. Cale and Sawyer try to escape via a secret tunnel but find the exit rigged with explosives. They escape in the presidential limo but are attacked by Stenz and fall into the White House pool. With Sawyer and Cale presumed dead in an explosion, the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution is invoked; Hammond is sworn in as president. Cale and Sawyer, still alive, learn Hammond has ordered an aerial incursion to re-acquire the White House, but the mercenaries shoot down the helicopters. Learning Emily's identity from the video, Stenz takes her to Walker in the Oval Office. Hacking into NORAD, Tyler launches a missile at Air Force One from Piketon, Ohio, killing Hammond and everyone on board. Raphelson is sworn in as president and orders an air strike on the White House.

Sawyer surrenders himself to save Emily. Walker, blaming Iran for his son's death, demands Sawyer use the football to launch nuclear missiles against various Iranian cities. Sawyer refuses, while Cale sets fire to several rooms as a diversion. Tyler inadvertently triggers the tunnel explosives and is vaporized. Killing most of the mercenaries and freeing the hostages, Cale blows Stenz up with a grenade belt. Sawyer attacks Walker, who uses Sawyer's handprint to activate the football and target the Iranian cities, when Cale crashes a reinforced Chevrolet Suburban through the Oval Office. Before Walker can launch the missiles, Cale kills him with the car's rotary cannon. Emily waves off the incoming fighter planes with a presidential flag, calling off the air strike.

Cale realizes that Raphelson was Walker's accomplice. Believing Sawyer dead and that Cale has no proof, Raphelson is tricked into confessing and is arrested for treason. Sawyer names Cale his new special agent, taking him and Emily on an aerial tour of DC. Sawyer receives word that Russia, Iran, France, and Israel have agreed to his peace deal after learning of 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 November 5, 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.


  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.

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