The World's End (film)
The World's End is a 2013 science fiction comedy film directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Rosamund Pike. The film follows five friends who discover, during an epic pub crawl, that there is an alien invasion in their hometown.
Wright has described the film as social science fiction in the tradition of John Wyndham and Samuel Youd (John Christopher). It is the third and final film in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, following Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007). The film was produced by Relativity Media, StudioCanal, Big Talk Productions, and Working Title Films. It grossed $46.1 million against a $20 million budget.
Gary King, a forty-year-old alcoholic, retains the mindset and immaturity of his teenage years, whereas his four boyhood friends, Oliver Chamberlain, Peter Page, Steven Prince, and Andrew Knightley, have all matured. The four have become estranged from Gary until one day, attempting to recapture his youth, he contacts and invites them to complete the "Golden Mile", a pub crawl encompassing the twelve pubs of their hometown of Newton Haven, the last of them being the World's End. The group attempted the crawl as teens, twenty-three years previously on their last day of school, but failed to reach the final three pubs. Andy, now a teetotaller due to a drunk-driving accident years ago involving him and Gary, reluctantly agrees to join the others.
At the second pub, the Old Familiar, the group encounters Oliver's sister, Sam, who Gary and Steven fought over in school; in the teenage crawl, Gary had sex with Sam in the toilets of the seventh pub, the Two Headed Dog. Early into the crawl, the town residents appear eerily stoic and do not seem to recognize the group, except for the barman of the third pub, The Famous Cock, who tells them that they are banned. In the fourth pub, the Cross Hands, the group begins berating Gary for his childishness and lack of empathy. Angry and upset, Gary goes to the toilet where he gets into a fight with a teenager and knocks his head off, exposing him as an android. As Gary's friends find him in the bathroom, initially to confront him about lying about his mother's death, the other members of the teen's gang, all of whom are also androids filled with a blue ink-like substance, enter the bathroom and engage in a battle against the human friends. The group realizes that the entire town has been replaced with android simulants. In shock, Andy abandons his teetotal lifestyle.
Gary urges them to continue the pub crawl to avoid suspicion. At the Trusty Servant, Gary and his friends learn that the androids want to improve humanity after Gary tries to buy some herbal refreshment, discovering that drug dealer Trevor is in league with the androids. Oliver is put out of commission after pint six, being replaced by an android look-alike while he used the bathroom off-screen. The group bumps into Sam once more at the Two Headed Dog, where Gary, Sam, and Steven fight a pair of twin androids. She tags along with them to the Mermaid, where Steven discovers that the androids are trying to build a prosperous, galactic conglomerate, with humanity working alongside them, and that any humans refusing will be replaced with identical simulants. When the group arrives at the Beehive, the androids attempt to convince the humans to join their assimilation. Unwilling to lose their humanity and finding out that Oliver had been replaced, the situation goes mental as the group fights against the world.
After escaping the Beehive, the situation worsens. Gary lets Sam, the only one sober enough to drive safely, go to escape Newton Haven herself; Pete gets captured after attacking the android that replaced his childhood bully; and Gary ditches his remaining friends at the King's Head to finish the Golden Mile. Andy and Steven chase after Gary with the rest of Newton Haven, although Steven gets captured at the Hole in the Wall after attempting to drive the remaining humans out of town.
Andy finally catches up to Gary at the World's End and confronts him, provoking a fight. During their scuffle, Andy shares that his marriage is troubled and Gary's wrists reveal a recent suicide attempt. Andy tries to stop Gary from drawing his final pint, but Gary clings to completing the Mile, saying it is the only thing in life he can achieve.
When Gary pulls the lever to pour himself a pint, the floor lowers to a hidden chamber. A disembodied alien entity, known as the Network, tells them that the simulant invasion has been responsible for the technological advances in telecommunication over recent decades as part of a first step to joining a galactic community. The Network offers Gary eternal youth if he becomes a simulant, but he refuses. Along with Andy and Steven, who has survived, Gary gets into a foul-mouthed debate with the Network, calling out the tyranny in the latter's plan and demanding that humanity be left to its own devices. Eventually, the Network, exasperated, abandons the invasion; the departure triggers an electromagnetic pulse. Sam comes back to rescue the remaining humans and manages to head for the hills before the town is destroyed, though they are unable to escape the pulse that deactivates her car.
Some time later, the departure of the Network has triggered a worldwide blackout that destroyed all electrical power on Earth, sending humanity back to the Dark Ages. The remaining simulants have reactivated, achieving independence from the Network, but are mistrusted and shunned by most of the surviving humans. Andy's marriage has recovered, Steven is in a relationship with Sam, and the simulant versions of Peter and Oliver have assumed a semblance of their former selves. In the ruins of Newton Haven, the now-sober Gary enters a pub with the simulant versions of his younger friends and orders water. When the bartender refuses to serve simulants, Gary leads his new friends into a brawl.
The World's End began as a screenplay titled Crawl about a group of teenagers on a pub crawl; it was written by Edgar Wright at the age of 21. He realised the idea could work with adult characters to capture "the bittersweet feeling of returning to your home town and feeling like a stranger". Wright said he wanted to satirise the "strange homogeneous branding that becomes like a virus", explaining: "This doesn't just extend to pubs, it's the same with cafés and restaurants. If you live in a small town and you move to London, which I did when I was 20, then when you go back out into the other small towns in England you go 'oh my god, it's all the same!' It's like Bodysnatchers: literally our towns are being changed to death."
In an interview for Entertainment Weekly, Pegg told Clark Collis, "People think we choose the genre first every time, and it's not true. We find the stories first. The notion of alienation from your hometown taken to its literal conclusion was how we got to science fiction."
After the story was complete, Wright and Pegg examined a list of real pub names and "tried to make them like tarot cards" to foreshadow the events of the story. Wright explained: "So we said, 'OK this one's the Famous Cock, because this is where Gary is trying to puff up his own importance.' ... We did go through and work out in each one how the pub sign was going to relate."
Principal photography for The World's End began on 28 September 2012. Filming took place in Hertfordshire, at Elstree Studios, Letchworth Garden City, and Welwyn Garden City. Part of the film was also shot at High Wycombe railway station, Buckinghamshire.
All twelve pubs in the film use identical signage on menus and walls, reflecting what Wright called "that fake hand-written chalk" common to modern British pubs. The exteriors of the real pubs were shot at locations in Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth Garden City, with altered signage. Letchworth Garden City railway station received a makeover to become the "Hole in the Wall". Stunts were coordinated by Brad Allen, of martial arts film director Jackie Chan's team. Wright said: "In Drunken Master, Jackie Chan has to get drunk to fight, but this is more the idea of Dutch courage. You know, when you're kind of drunk and you think 'ah, I can climb up that scaffolding!' Or just that you're impervious to pain. One of the things we talked about is this idea that [the characters] become better fighters the more oiled they get."
The Broadway Cinema, Letchworth, a renovated independent cinema built in the 1930s in the Art Deco style, was used to portray the Mermaid pub. This cinema was also the first outside London to play the film, with a special introduction by Pegg thanking the residents of Letchworth for their help during its making; over 800 viewers watched the film at the cinema on its opening night.
The film uses what the New York Post's Kyle Smith called "a brilliant Madchester soundtrack", alternative rock and pop music from the time of the characters' adolescence. Wright explained: "A lot of those songs are ones that really hit me and Simon hard when we were that age... [Gary] is still living by those rules. It's like he decided to take 'Loaded' and 'I'm Free' to heart and thinks the party's never going to end."
The soundtrack for the film was released on 5 August 2013 in the UK and 20 August 2013 in the United States, with the film's score, composed by Steven Price, released on the same day.
The only songs featured in the film that did not make it onto the soundtrack are "The Only One I Know", "Summer's Magic" and "The Only Rhyme That Bites", by The Charlatans, Mark Summers and 808 State respectively. The version of "20 Seconds To Comply" which features in the film is the mix from Silver Bullet's album "Bring Down The Walls No Limit Squad Returns" albeit edited to remove dialogue samples from RoboCop. On the soundtrack album, it is replaced by the Bomb Squad mix (again re-edited to remove the samples). The original soundtrack tributes the song "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" by Yes when the young characters reach the hills.
In addition to songs featured in the movie, the album also features dialogue snippets. The track list for the soundtrack is as follows:
The World's End earned £2,122,288 during its UK opening weekend, losing the top spot to Monsters University. Its weekend grosses were higher than Shaun of the Dead's £1.6 million but lower than Hot Fuzz's £5.4 million.
In the United States, the movie was released on 23 August and earned $3.5 million on its opening day, outperforming The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and You're Next. The World's End also had the highest per-theatre average out of all films in theatres throughout the country on its opening day. On its opening weekend, the film landed in fourth place with $8,790,237, behind Lee Daniels' The Butler, We're the Millers, and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. This exceeded box office expectations ranging from $7 million to $8.5 million, and The World's End's opening weekend earned the most out of all films in the Cornetto Trilogy.
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an 89% approval rating with a weighted average score of 7.44/10, based on 240 reviews. The website's critics consensus reads: "Madcap and heartfelt, Edgar Wright's apocalypse comedy The World's End benefits from the typically hilarious Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, with a plethora of supporting players." At Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B+, praising it as "hilarious" and the "best" collaboration of Wright, Pegg and Frost, saying that "these pint-swilling Peter Pans also know how to work the heart and the brain for belly laughs... The finale is a little too shaggy and silly. But what do you expect after a dozen beers?"
Mark Dinning of Empire magazine gave the film four stars out of five, writing: "Bravely refusing to rigidly adhere to a formula that has been so successful, Wright, Pegg and Frost's Cornetto Trilogy closer has tonal shifts you won't expect, but the same beating heart you've been craving."