Editor’s Note: Deadline’s Read the Screenplay series makes its debut and celebrates the movie scripts that will be factors in this year’s movie prize race.
Most Hollywood disaster films are about mankind’s heroic efforts to avert a crisis. From Imposing Hell at Independence Day, Armageddon and Deep impact, films generally show that humanity triumphs and perseveres. Do not seek is not that kind of movie.
At Adam McKay’s Do not seek, scientists Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discover a comet heading towards Earth. When they alert President Orlean (Meryl Streep), they are frustrated to find that she and her team dismiss their warnings. Mindy and Dibiasky find the media even less receptive to the looming crisis.
McKay and David Sirota’s story and McKay’s screenplay satirize the forces that fail to respond to a preventable crisis. Politics, media, science deniers, and corporate interests thwart Mindy and Dibiasky’s attempts to save the world from this cataclysmic comet.
Do not seek is a satire of real environmental concerns such as climate change. In the script, McKay exaggerates how institutions refuse to tackle science. In real political life, that might mean voting against environmental bills. In Do not seek, the staff of Orleans blatantly changes their position on the comet to serve their re-election.
DiCaprio has used his platform to promote environmental initiatives in real life. The actor said he is looking for an environmental themed film and is considering Do not seek “A once in a lifetime opportunity.”
McKay said his early script drafts were dramatic. He was inspired by the 2019 book Uninhabited Earth, David Wallace-Wells’ analysis of the climate crisis. McKay collaborated with reporter Sirota, who had the idea that a comet could be the metaphor.
Covid-19 pandemic began before McKay filming Do not seek. He said the public and political reaction to the pandemic was wilder than its first drafts. So, he was inspired to make the movie “15 Percent Crazier”.
Do not seek played in theaters from December 10 and premiered on Netflix on December 24, where it has already broken Netflix records with over 152 million hours of streaming. It won the AFI award for one of its films of the year and is among the best films of the year by the National Board of Review. It has six Critics Choice nominations and four Golden Globe nominations.
Click below to read McKay’s screenplay.