Steven Spielberg’s Jaws kicked off the summer blockbuster era when it was released on June 20, 1975, facilitated by its enthusiastic first test screening, in Dallas on March 26, at the old Medallion off Northwest Highway. This year’s summer movie season begins May 6 with Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. I’m not exactly sure what’s at stake in this picture, but any summer blockbuster worth its salt depicts some sort of (natural or unnatural) existential threat, whether that involves all of humanity or just a few humans, or maybe we’re talking about some number in between. Like a city’s worth of people, say. Which got me thinking: how would Dallas handle the kind of danger that regularly rumbles across the screen in one of these flicks? You give me the threat, and I’ll assess it. Go!
Flood. Given that the city’s infrastructure has the integrity of a sandcastle, such that even a light rainfall can shut down large swaths and open up potholes the size of Sprinter vans, I’d say that a flood would send Dallas back to the days of John Neely Bryan. The Trinity almost topped its levees five or six years ago, so this is far from idle chatter.
Earthquake. I thought this was just going to be a fun little exercise, but we are still doing realistic threats, I guess. The seismic activity around here has mostly been confined to mild temblors, but who knows what fracking (allegedly!) might unleash if it hits the right spot? Off the top of my head, I’d say Klyde Warren Park would end up a lot closer to Woodall Rodgers. Can we move on from natural disasters please?
Aliens. Ah, yes, that’s more like it. Frankly, with all the neon and LEDs and so on, downtown Dallas is like a target for extraterrestrial death rays. No city is built for that. But Dallas is built to rebuild, and you can bet someone will turn this into a real estate play for the ages. This is Dallas.
You can bet someone will turn this into a real estate play for the ages. This is Dallas.
Dinosaurs. As of last year, there were 27 billionaires living in the area. I think one of them could probably afford to sort out the logistics of importing a T. rex. Obviously that would involve a private plane, which means Love Field, which means by the time the T. rex broke free of its cage and thrashed a few of the poor bastards that tech entrepreneur Todd Wagner or whoever hired to wrangle him, it would be single and ready to mingle just about 5 miles from downtown Dallas. The good news is that Wagner or Crescent Real Estate founder John Goff probably couldn’t (or at least wouldn’t) attempt to bring in a herd of them at the same time, and one T. rex, while terrifying, isn’t going to wreck the entire city on its own. A fully grown T. rex is about as heavy as a tank. And recent research suggests it was more of a walker than a runner. So, not ideal, but we’d survive. Moving on.
European terrorists. Yes, like the Die Hard series. A crew willing to blow up one or more buildings to cover up a massive theft. I could see this happening a couple of different ways. Either they would take over the skyline’s most iconic structure, Reunion Tower, before symbolically blowing up the ball in an attempt to create cover for their escape, or they would hit a few places around downtown, keeping some grizzled detective and his ad hoc partner on the run for a bit before eventually getting apprehended. (In my screenplay, this scene is also happening at Reunion Tower.) Either way, it might do a little damage, but ultimately, again, this will turn into a real estate bonanza for someone. Probably a few someones. Don’t be naive.
Some sort of Fast and the Furious-esque mobile strike team. Come on. A vehicle-based assault on these streets? Good luck!