by Connor McCormick on October 18, 2023

in Extras,Film

Planes have always been present in popular culture, appearing everywhere from TV shows and fashion, to online gaming like the popular Aviator casino game, and even photography.

Public Interest in Aviation

The Museum of Flight in Seattle and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. are among the best places to find out more about aviation history in the US. Our love of flying can also be seen in the Aviator casino game, where players bet on how long the craft will stay in the air. If it crashes before the cash out is performed, the player loses that round but can choose to play again. So it’s clear an air-based setting is a popular choice across a range of media.

But planes are one of the most popular subjects for movies in particular, as they provide the perfect setting for a number of genres, from tense action thrillers to comedies and romantic movies. The following are some of the most popular movies about planes that have impacted popular culture in a host of different ways.

Air Force One – 1997

With Harrison Ford playing the fictional US President James Marshall, this movie is set almost entirely onboard the Presidential jet, Air Force One. When the craft is taken over by terrorists, Marshall stays on the plane to rescue the rest of the passengers rather than escape. It’s an all-action movie that helped to put plane movies of this type back in the news, with Air Con coming out the same year, and Executive Decision just the year before.

Also starring Gary Oldman and Glenn Close, Air Force One was a commercial success upon its release in 1997 – its $37.1 million opening weekend ranked as the fourth-highest of that year behind blockbusters such as Men in Black and Jurassic Park.

Plane – 2023

This 2023 release stars Gerard Butler as a pilot named Brodie Torrance who has to transport a group of passengers, including a prisoner named Louis Gaspare (played by Mike Coulter). The aircraft runs into a heavy storm while crossing the South China Sea, which leads the pilot to make an emergency landing on Jolo Island in the Philippines. It turned out to be a great success among movie fans and grossed a respectable $74 million on a worldwide basis, despite some poor reviews like this one on the Roger Ebert site.

While it’s brought plane disaster movies back into focus this year, the lasting impact of Plane may be the fact that it leads to a resurgence in the disaster movie genre in general – a follow-up called Ship is already being planned. While Butler will only be making a cameo appearance this time, it seems Coulter will be playing the role of Gaspare again.

The Aviator – 2004

This Martin Scorsese movie is a biography of the life of Howard Hughes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), but the world of aviation plays a huge part in the plot. We see how Hughes crashes when attempting to set a new speed record in his H-1 Racer, tries to fly around the world in just four days, and works obsessively on projects to create new planes.

Cate Blanchett won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn, while the movie was nominated for an impressive 11 awards overall and took home five. It represents one of the high points of Scorsese’s filmmaking career and a switch away from his traditional subject material. It was also the director’s second successful collaboration with DiCaprio – they worked again on this year’s Killers of the Flower Moon.

These three movies have all helped cement planes’ setting in popular culture, and it seems certain that we’ll see more about aviation in films, TV shows, and other places in the near future.

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