Hollywood's blockbusting directors are gearing up to unleash a veritable plague of apocalypse films centered around the end of the Mayan Calendar in December 2012.

Sources say John Cusack is on board to usher in Columbia Pictures' version of the world-changing 2012 event — in this case, a gratuitous global cataclysm with lots 'o special effects. Cusack will play a divorced dad who becomes an unlikely hero leading a band of survivors after the Earth goes up in flames, according to ancient prophesy.

Simply titled 2012, the flick will be directed by Roland Emmerich, the CGI-heavy, fire-and-brimstone auteur that brought us Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and Independence Day. The price tag to blow up the planet this time around is estimated at around $200 million.

Other recent or soon-to-be-released feature films on the 2012 apocalypse theme include:

– 2008's ill-fated 2012 Doomsday (" A Modern Christian Epic in the Tradition of The Omega Code and Left Behind.")

– Armageddon director Michael Bay's adaptation of author Whitley Strieber's 2012: The War for Souls, an alien-invasion end-of-the-world epic

– and a Nickelodeon/Paramount venture also titled 2012, which will apparently spin the End Times into an "action-adventure for the whole family that is based on the idea that the apocalypse is coming in December of 2012." (You know, for kids!)

Bay's film is scheduled for a release in 2010, and Emmerich's in 2009 — a big-budget showdown that recalls 1998's back-to-back releases of Armageddon and Deep Impact, both of which feature the destruction of Earth by rocks from outer space.

I can't say I'm looking forward to the spectacle of advertising and media frenzy that is going to surround these releases. If the world doesn't explode in fire and ice at the end of the Mayan Calendar, perhaps at least Hollywood will break off into the Pacific and disappear.


Image by tonx, courtesy of Creative Commons license.