In His Own Words

From the beginning, the subject seemed to me inherently visual, and therefore should be a script, not a book. Tornadoes are an ideal film subject, because unlike most meteorological phenomena, they are small enough to fit within the film frame, and they last a short time, changing rapidly. By comparison, a hurricane is hundreds of miles across, too big to see in a single image; and it goes on for hours, with little change. Tornadoes are much more contained, and visually compelling.

We were further encouraged by early research that showed the premise was valid. Not only had real scientists attempted to put instrument packs into funnels, but there had been many recorded episodes when so-called “outbreaks” of tornadoes occurred—as many as a hundred tornadoes touching down in a single day, often only a few minutes apart. That was what we required for our story, and it did indeed happen. It wasn’t even rare: outbreaks of forty or more tornadoes had occurred seven times in the past ten years. The worst recorded outbreak, according to Ted Fujita, had taken place in April 1974, when 148 tornadoes touched down in a day, producing 2,400 miles of damage path.

So it seemed as if the story was possible.

Michael Crichton


Two scientist pursue the most destructive weatherfront to sweep through mid-America’s Tornado Alley in 50 years. By launching electronic sensors into the funnel, the storm chasers hope to obtain enough data to create an improved warning system. But to do so, they must intercept the twister’s deadly path.

From the Archives

Twister – New York Times Book Review May 10, 1996

Rave Review

“Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does as much about it as the makers of Twister, a gale-force movie with the energy to blow audiences right out of the theater.” So says famed film reviewer, Janet Maslin in this 1996 New York Times movie review.  You can also read the whole review on the New York Times Website.

Twister was a huge commercial success, breaking opening weekend records as shown here in this 1996 Daily Variety article.  The movie would go on to to be the second highest grossing movie of 1996 coming in just behind Will Smith’s Independence Day.

Daily Variety, May 13, 1996

Twister (Movie)

Release Date: May 10, 1996
Running Time: 1 hrs. 53 min.
Director: Jan De Bont
Screenwriter: Michael Crichton, Anne-Marie Martin
Studio: Warner Bros.
Starring: Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lois Smith, Alan Ruck, Jeremy Davies