Director Brad Peyton brought in Thomas Jordan, USC professor and director of the Southern California Earthquake Center to fact check the script for plausibility. Though both Peyton and lead actor Dwayne Johnson contend that the science portrayed in the film is accurate, Thomas Jordan was quoted as saying "I gave them free advice, some of which they took... but much of which they didn't - magnitude 9's are too big for the San Andreas, and it can't produce a big tsunami."
It is possible for a Nevada quake to trigger an L.A. quake, and for an L.A. quake to trigger a San Francisco quake. The 1992 Landers earthquake, a 7.3 in California's Mojave Desert, triggered a 5.3 quake in Nevada the next day. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake triggered magnitude 5 earthquakes the next day in Santa Monica, Oregon, and Nevada.
After a devastating earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, the film's marketing campaign was adjusted to include information about how to help relief efforts and to give guidance on how to prepare for natural disasters (e.g., a link to the site prepareandhelp.com was added to the newest trailers).
Alexandra Daddario is 14 years younger than Dwayne Johnson, who plays her father, and 15 years younger than Carla Gugino, who plays her mother.
The cast did a lot of their own stunts because director Brad Peyton wanted audiences to see their faces. In the first 15 minutes of the film, Johnson rappels out of a helicopter that's at least 150 feet off the ground to rescue a girl that's in a car suspended off a cliff face set that's 50 feet off the ground. "There was a little bit of a challenge that the script, the story, and the style in which we wanted to shoot it posed to the cast, which I think they delivered on in spades," Peyton tells us. "I wanted to get Dwayne into the back seat and chase him with a 150-foot techno-crane and not cut. I wanted the audience to know that they're seeing Dwayne Johnson do this. This isn't a trick. There's no editing. This is him really doing it." Peyton was thrilled when everyone in the cast stepped up to the challenge. "What's awesome about Dwayne and the entire cast was you presented to them, 'This is the vision for the movie. I want to experience it. I want to see you guys do it.' And they were all in," Peyton says. "I remember in Australia seeing Dwayne practice that, which makes your heart palpitate, because you're like, 'Please do not fall right now. We need to roll cameras, sir.' When you see it, you're like, 'I buy this. This is legitimate.'"
The first thing Alexandra Daddario thought of when she was auditioning for this role was how she grew up in New York City and was in Manhattan during 9/11. "That was really the only thing that I related to as far as a disaster on a grand scale," says Daddario. "It was really interesting to see on that day and in the weeks afterwards how people came together, what they were able to do for each other, and what I found myself feeling, thinking, and doing for the people around me, whether it was strangers on the street or my own family. I really related to it in that way. All the things that you worry about on a day-to-day basis drop away. They don't matter."
Riddick's headquarters building in San Francisco, where Blake, Ben, and Ollie meet, is the Bank of America Building at 555 California Street. The same building, albeit with special effects, is used in the disaster classic The Towering Inferno (1974).
Universal Studios Florida remodeled their "Earthquake" ride to make it a parody of movie effects. The ride is called Disaster! A Major Motion Picture Ride... Starring You! (2008) In it, riders participate in a movie called "Mutha Nature". At the end, everyone is rescued by Dwayne Johnson. This ride has since closed to make room for a ride featuring another franchise that Dwayne Johnson is part of, Fast and Furious: Supercharged.
The cluster of relief tents near the end of the film are actual disaster relief tents that are distributed by Shelterbox, a real disaster relief organization based in England. The costs of transporting the tents and green boxes from various storage locations to the set were paid for by the production company.
Dwayne Johnson's training process was pretty consistent in terms of his usual physical regimen and any skills he had to master for this particular role. He explains, "The difference was actually participating in something that I had never participated in before, spending time with first responders, spending time with the LAFD (Los Angeles Fire Department) Search and Rescue pilots operating a helicopter, participating again in deep dives and the drill down processes with these guys and girls for a pretty good amount of time. That was a different part for me. It was exercising a different muscle that I hadn't before. I've played characters like this where I'm pretty proficient, and I hope to be taking care of business, whatever that business is. But in this case, it was very different than anything I had experienced before. I spent a lot of time here in L.A. and a lot of time in Australia with those men and women."
Dwayne Johnson was in Budapest shooting Hercules (2014), another movie produced by Flynn, when he was handed the script. He stayed up until 3:30 in the morning to read the script all the way through. "I loved it. I texted Beau and said, 'I'm in.' It all came together fairly quickly in terms of the amazing actors who had their hands up who wanted to come in and play in the sandbox and hopefully redefine a genre that has been around for such a long period of time. Collectively, the group here wanted to create something special because it'd been a long time since there'd been an earthquake movie."
San Andreas is the name of the tectonic fault line that runs through most of California. Seismologists have been predicting for years that California is due for a massive earthquake caused by this particular fault.
Notable earthquakes that have occurred on the San Andreas Fault include: 1680 Coachella Valley earthquake: This obscure quake is of interest to scientists because of its location - the southern end of the San Andreas Fault. The epicenter was believed to be somewhere between Indio and Palm Springs in Riverside County. This is the last known major quake of the largest, most dangerous fault line in the state of California. The magnitude was estimated to be about a 7.7. 1857 Fort Tejon earthquake: About 217 miles (349 km) were ruptured in central and southern California. Though it is known as the Fort Tejon earthquake, the epicenter is thought to have been located far to the north, just south of Parkfield. Two deaths were reported. The magnitude was about 7.9. 1906 San Francisco earthquake: About 267 miles (430 km) were ruptured in Northern California. The epicenter was near San Francisco. At least 3000 people died in the earthquake and subsequent fires. The magnitude was estimated to be 7.8. 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake: About 25 miles (40 km) were ruptured (although the rupture did not reach the surface) near Santa Cruz, California, causing 63 deaths and major damage in certain vulnerable locations, including San Francisco and the East Bay. Moment magnitude was about 6.9. The earthquake also postponed Game 3 of the 1989 World Series at Candlestick Park. This quake occurred on October 17, 1989, at approximately 5:04 P.M. PDT. 2004 Parkfield earthquake: On September 28, 2004, at 10:15 A.M. PDT, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck the Parkfield area. It was felt across the state, including the San Francisco Bay Area.
On May 29, 2015 at 10:23 PM, the same day the film opened, a magnitude 3.8 earthquake was reported near Indio, California.
When Ray and Emma land on second base after sky diving out of the aeroplane, Dwayne ad libbed the line "it's been a while since I got you to second base" Carla's reaction and laugh was genuine.
A large amount of the film was shot in and around Brisbane, Australia. At the time of filming, the city had not experienced a noticeable earthquake in its history.
The San Andreas Fault is a National Natural Landmark (NNL). Its designation as a landmark can be viewed at DeRose Vineyards in Hollister, California.
This movie offers strong roles for women who are portrayed as smart, tough and resilient. Alexandra Daddario reveals, "I do consider myself to be a smart, tough girl. Growing up when I was younger, I didn't feel all that tough or smart or strong. As I got older, I was able to discover my own strength. It's really amazing when you discover how strong you actually are and what you really can accomplish. I'm 29 now and I'm reaching that point where I see what I can do. I feel confident and strong and powerful, and that's an amazing feeling. Being able to portray a character like this is even more amazing and to do it authentically is quite a wonderful feeling. It's wonderful that we're portraying women in this way so that young women can see that women actually are strong and capable of accomplishing all kinds of things."
The store that the Helicopter crashes into in the shopping mall is called Ray's Outdoors. Whilst this could be seen as a clever co-incidence on the lead character's name, it was the actual name of an chain of stores in Australia selling camping and outdoor equipment at the time of filming. Since this scene was actually filmed in Australia, The company helped to make the fake store for the set.
Early in the film while the main character is looking at old photos of family vacations, he views one of him and his family at Coit Tower in San Francisco. Coit Tower was actually built as a memorial dedicated to San Francisco volunteer firefighters.
The actual apartment used in the film Bullitt (1968), which is on the corner of Clay and Taylor St, is seen in this film. The street sign is clearly visible, with the apartment being in the background.
Producer Beau Flynn came out to Los Angeles from New York at the end of 1993 with a dream to tell stories and make movies. Three weeks later, the Northridge Earthquake happened. "Like Dwayne Johnson, I'm from Miami. I'm very familiar with hurricanes, but we do get a notice when a hurricane is coming," said Flynn. "Unfortunately, you don't with an earthquake. Northridge was a very scary, sobering experience. I just felt very small, very humble, and really grateful in terms of how things can change so quickly. I had incredible respect for that." Flynn always wanted to tell a story about a family persevering. After that earthquake, he called his mom and said, "I'm moving back to New York," and she said, "Why don't you settle down?" He thought that was incredible advice, and he's never regretted that he did. "I really wanted to tell a story about the myths of Mother Nature and how these things do happen globally, about people coming together as a community, and family reuniting, staying together, persevering and fighting through this. That's really how this has been percolating for the last 20 years."
Dwayne Johnson and Alexandra Daddario who play father and daughter in this film would later play co-workers (both being lifeguards) in the film Baywatch (2017).
The filmmakers are big fans of Steven Spielberg. According to Flynn, "Brad Peyton in my mind is the next Steven Spielberg and that's why Brad is in this business. Spielberg was a huge inspiration on both Brad and Dwayne and this whole cast. " Johnson agrees, "That's very true. When we went into this movie, we sat in Budapest and started chopping things up, and said, 'Wow, this feels like a Spielberg movie.' Then, we just talked about it. We had this private conversation, the three of us, in a hotel about how much Spielberg had inspired us. We didn't write him or call him. It's just that we're such big fans of his movies. I will say, just for the record, I received a letter from that gentleman who directed Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). It was very cool. He reached out and he said a lot of cool, inspiring, motivating things."
Marks the second collaboration between director Brad Peyton and actor Dwayne Johnson. They previously worked together on Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012).
Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino also starred in the remake of Race to Witch Mountain (2009).
The movie earthquake is said to be 9.6, the largest ever recorded. In 1960 the Valdivia Earthquake has been reported with a range of 9.4-9.6 although the USGS in 2016 updated the magnitude to 9.5 while Chile still reports it as 9.6. So at the time of the movie, the Valdivia quake was reported as 9.6 which meant the movie's quake was tied as the strongest quake. The changes over the years is based on modeling in part because the quake was so strong the closest measuring stations literally went off the top of their scale.
The idea for the film originated with producer Beau Flynn who was interested in doing a classic disaster film with 3D technology.
Alec Utgoff plays Alexi. He would later play a character named Alexei on the third season of Stranger Things, which is his most famous role.
This is the third film featuring Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino, after Faster (2010) and Race to Witch Mountain (2009). It's the third film featuring Matt Gerald and Johnson, after Faster and G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013). It's the second film featuring Carla Gugino and Matt Gerald, after Faster. It's the second film to feature Johnson, Gerald, and Gugino. It's the second film to feature Johnson and Janell Islas, and Furious 7 (2015).
The televisions in Dr. Hayes' office in the scene after the collapse of the Hoover Dam are showing stock news footage of the 2011 Lockyer Valley flood, which was part of a conglomeration of other floods in Southern and South-East Queensland. The Channel Seven watermark is visible on the screen.
Some scenes were filmed in Bakersfield, California, the largest city in Kern County (near 400,000 pop.).
It's been widely felt that Johnson and Daddario were too close in age to play father and daughter. Oddly, the same has also been felt with Lorne Greene and Ava Gardner in another earthquake-disaster film, Earthquake (1974).
This is the third time that Dwayne Johnson plays a father figure to a character that is in a popular movie franchise. The first time was in Race to Witch Mountain (2009) to Alexander Ludwig who appeared in The Hunger Games (2012) etcetera, the second time in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) to Josh Hutcherson who also appeared in The Hunger Games, and this movie to Alexandra Daddario who appeared in movies about Percy Jackson.
The jet that Daniel & Blake fly in up to San Fransico in a Bombardier Challenger 604 is a fake registration for the movie.
Dwayne Johnson and Matt Gerald also starred together in G.I Joe: Retalliation (2013).
When Ray arrives at home while talking on his cell phone to his daughter, the attorney's divorce paper reads: B. WAYNE HUGHES 90214 Century Park East, Suite 900 Los Angeles, California 90067-9896 213-555-1986 Mr. Ray Gaines 918 Eldora Road Pasadena, CA 90042
Carla & Dwayne preciously starred in Race to Witch Mountain as unrelated couple saving 2 kids, Dwayne & Alexandra later starred in Baywatch movie where Dwayne played her boss
In this film, Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play husband and wife (albeit going through a divorce). Ironically enough, Dwayne Johnson was originally the main choice to play the lead in The One (2001), where Carla Gugino plays the wife to the main character (in that film's case, ultimately played by Jet Li.)