Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lorene Scafaria
Produced by
Written by Lorene Scafaria
Music by
Cinematography Tim Orr
Edited by Zene Baker
Distributed by Focus Features
Release date
  • June 18, 2012 (2012-06-18) (Los Angeles Film Festival)
  • June 22, 2012 (2012-06-22) (United States)[1]
Running time
101 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[3]
Box office $9.6 million[4]

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a 2012 American romantic comedy-drama film, written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, in her directorial debut. The film stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. The inspiration for the title was a line from Chris Cornell's song "Preaching the End of the World", from his 1999 debut solo album Euphoria Morning.[5][6]

Filming began May 2011, in Los Angeles, California.[7] The film was theatrically released on June 22, 2012 in the United States by Focus Features. It received mixed reviews from critics and earned $9.6 million on a $10 million budget. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc and made available for digital streaming in the United States on October 23, 2012.


In New York City, a news report is broadcast informing the world that a mission to stop an incoming asteroid has failed and that the asteroid will make impact in three weeks, destroying all life on Earth. Dodge Petersen (Steve Carell) and his wife, Linda (Nancy Carell), listen to the broadcast from the side of the road. When Dodge makes an uninterested response, Linda looks at him in disgust and flees the vehicle without a word.

While everyone around him reacts differently to the news, from suicide to constant drugs and guilt-free sex, Dodge's life does not change at all. He continues to attend to his meaningless job as an insurance salesman and to employ his cleaning lady and spends his nights alone.

Dodge hesitantly attends the wild party of his neighbors, Warren (Rob Corddry) and his wife, Diane (Connie Britton), where he declines offers of sex and drugs and listens to a philosophical rant from his drunken friend Roache (Patton Oswalt). Dodge shortly returns home to reminisce about his high school sweetheart, Olivia, when he notices his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) crying on the fire escape. She has just broken up with her boyfriend, Owen, (Adam Brody) for making her miss her last opportunity to see her family in England. At her apartment, Penny gives Dodge three years' worth of his mail that was incorrectly delivered to her and, in the process, unwittingly tells him that his wife was having an affair.

Dodge storms off into the night, guzzling codeine-laced cough syrup and window cleaner in a suicide attempt. He wakes up in a park, with a dog tethered to his foot and a note on his sweater reading "Sorry," which becomes the dog's name. Dodge takes Sorry home, opens the old mail, and is surprised to discover a three-month-old letter from Olivia, which explains that he was "the love of her life." Later, a riot breaks out on his block. Dodge and Penny abandon the self-centered Owen amid the rioters, with Dodge explaining to Penny that he knows someone who could fly her to England if she helps him find Olivia. She agrees, and the two set off with Sorry for Dodge's hometown in Delaware.

Along the way, Dodge and Penny run out of gas, share a bizarre experience with suicidal motorist Glenn (William Petersen), witness the eruption of an orgy at a restaurant, have sex in a pick-up truck, and spend a night in jail. They get a ride to Camden, New Jersey, where they meet Penny's ex-boyfriend, Speck (Derek Luke), who is prepared for the apocalypse.

Speck has a working satellite phone in his bunker and lets Penny contact her family. Penny and Dodge borrow a car from Speck and eventually make it to Olivia's family home. Dodge and Penny walk up toward the door of the home but find no one home and then spend the day together; they realize a mutual affection. Penny discovers a letter from Olivia to her parents, which reveals Olivia's address. Penny and Dodge drive to Olivia's home, where Dodge leaves a letter to Olivia and expresses his feelings for Penny. Later, they discover a marriage ceremony performed at the beach; Dodge and Penny kiss and join the ceremony. Then, they go to the house of the man who Dodge promised could take Penny to England. The man turns out to be Dodge's estranged father, Frank (Martin Sheen). After making amends with Frank, Dodge puts a sleeping Penny into his father's plane, whispering to her that she is the real love of his life. Frank and Penny depart, leaving Dodge behind.

Dodge returns to his apartment with Sorry; they soon enter Penny's apartment, where Dodge sets a record in her turntable and listens until the power dies. Lighting a candle, Dodge hears Sorry whining. Penny has returned, upset that Dodge allowed her to leave; they embrace. As the two lie in bed, Penny expresses her fear of the end being so near. Dodge distracts her by asking her to tell him of her childhood. They feel and hear a deep booming sound, and Penny tells Dodge she wishes that they had known each other sooner. Dodge replies that there never would have been enough time together and professes his love for her. When they feel and hear a second deep, booming sound, Penny panics and tells him she thought they would save each other; Dodge assures that they did. Penny smiles as the screen fades to white and then abruptly cuts to black.



Lorene Scafaria wanted to "tell the story of boy meets girl with a really ticking clock," prompted by recent events in her own life, including a "death in the family, a breakup, and a new relationship."[8] Scafaria also took inspiration from her experience during the September 11 attacks. Having recently moved from New York to Los Angeles, the attacks left her feeling "stranded" and so she ended up getting in contact with old friends. Later, she commented that she "found it interesting that this cataclysmic event would have such an effect on my own human behavior and relationships."[9] In terms of movies Scafaria found inspiration in films such as 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow.[9] The story, specifically that of an "unexpected romance blossoming between two strangers while on an impromptu road trip," shares simiarities to that of her previous screenplay, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist,[10] and it was while titling the previous movie that she thought, "What if you took forever off the table?"[9] Scafaria said that Adam Brody helped her with the script, giving her a male perspective to the soundtrack.[11] Filming began May 2011 in Los Angeles.[7]


The film received mixed reviews from critics, with many praising the cast, particularly Knightley and Carell. According to Rotten Tomatoes, "tender, charming, and well-acted, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is unfortunately hamstrung by jarring tonal shifts and a disappointing final act" with 55% of critics giving it a positive review.[12] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film a positive review and said, "The best parts of this sweet film involve the middle stretches, when time, however limited, reaches ahead, and the characters do what they can to prevail in the face of calamity. How can I complain that they don't entirely succeed? Isn't the dilemma of the plot the essential dilemma of life?"[13] Joe Neumaier, of the New York Daily News, said that the film was "One of the year's most emotionally affecting movies."[14] Film critic Nathan Heller wrote in Vogue magazine that the script was "desperately in need of a good edit" and commended the performances of Knightley and Carell: "Carell and, more surprisingly, Knightley are comedians proficient enough to sell the banter."[15]

The film performed poorly on its opening weekend, earning only $3 million, but managed to debut at Number 4 on the UK Box Office for the week ending July 15, 2012. However it failed to reach 10 million.

Home media

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc and made available for digital streaming in the United States on October 23, 2012.


  1. Han, Angie (January 24, 2012). "Release Date Shuffle: 'The Raven', 'House at the End of the Street', 'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World'". Retrieved July 5, 2012.
  4. "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)". Box Office Mojo. July 5, 2012. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  5. "Commentary: 'Norah' had screenwriter wanting to be 16 again". The Hollywood Reporter. October 2, 2008. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  6. "For 'End of the World' writer/director Lorene Scafaria, music is key". The Washington Post. June 21, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  7. 1 2 "Epic fun ahead as Keira Knightley and Steve Carell join forces to film Seeking A Friend for the End of the World". Daily Mail. May 19, 2011. Retrieved June 5, 2012. Unlikely screen duo Kiera Knightley and Steve Carell battled a windy movie set yesterday as they shot the first scenes for their new film, Seeking A Friend for the End of the World.
  8. Vilkomerson, Sara (April 17, 2012). "Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  9. 1 2 3 Fine, Marshall. "Interview: Director Lorene Scafaria Is Seeking a Friend". Huffington Post. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  10. O'Neal, Sean (February 10, 2012). "Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  11. Scudder, Annie (June 20, 2012). "Lorene Scafari\a on Seeking a Friend For the End of the World and How Ex Adam Brody Weighed In". TresSugar. Sugar Inc. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
  12. "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
  13. Ebert, Roger. "Seeking A Friend For The End of The World Review". Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  14. NEUMAIER, JOE. "Movie Review: Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World". NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  15. "The Last Ones Left: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World". Vogue. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
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