Movies have always been eerily prescient in their visions of the future. While some of the most popular and outlandish ideas have yet to become a reality (where are all the flying cars?), many of the seemingly impossible technologies in movies from decades ago have become a part of everyday life. From wearable tech to extremely contagious diseases, click through to see what the movies accurately predicted about the future…
CONTAGION (2011): 10 years ago when Contagion – a film about a deadly worldwide virus outbreak – was released, the scientific community was generally impressed by the film’s accurate depiction of how a deadly virus could spread around the world. Flash forward to 2020, and the plot of the movie seems eerily similar to the coronavirus pandemic currently circling the globe. Not all doom and gloom, however, the movie ends with the development of a successful vaccine that stops the spread of the virus and the crazy pandemic.
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968): Stanley Kubrick’s magnum opus was a groundbreaking piece of cinema when it was released, and the movie’s predictions of the future were eerily prescient. The technological breakthroughs depicted on screen range from iPad-like tablets, video calling, and Siri — some four decades before they were actually invented.
STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE (1977): One of the enduring images from George Lucas’ first Star Wars movie is Princess Leia, beamed out in hologram form, pleading for Obi-Wan Kenobi’s assistance. Fictional depictions of holograms like these have been credited with advancement in fields such as augmented reality.
STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979): Decades before Google translate, the first Star Trek movie predicted the use of instant language translation, which is used several times in the film. When the movie was released in 1979, this seemed like a far-off future technology – showing the franchise was way ahead of its time.
BLADE RUNNER (1982): Ridley Scott’s cult classic dazzled audiences by combining stunning dystopian landscapes, a synth-heavy soundtrack – and some eerily accurate predictions of the future. Set in 2019, we have thankfully avoided nuclear apocalypse (so far), but the movie’s vision of cities bathed in neon lights and giant digital billboards advertising Coca-Cola no longer seem so far-fetched. The video call technology depicted in several scenes is also a regular feature of modern life.
THE TERMINATOR (1984): The terrifying dystopian future of rampant killer cyborgs may be some way off (we hope), but there is one thing that James Cameron’s highly influential sci-fi got right – the use of military drones, which play an increasingly important role in modern day warfare.
BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II (1989): Where to start with Robert Zemeckis’ time-traveling classic? Could it be the self-lacing Nike shoe, which the company actually created in 2016? Or fingerprint recognition, used by smartphones since 2013? The most accurate depiction of the future, however, has to be Google Glass-like wearable tech, which Marty McFly’s kids use at the dinner table.
TOTAL RECALL (1990): In the 1990 sci-fi thriller Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger regularly uses self-driving cars – some 30 years before the tech was developed in real life. It remains to be seen whether Tesla, Uber and Google’s driverless cars will also feature a robot taxi driver, however.
DARKMAN (1990): In a case of life imitating art, Sam Raimi’s 1990 superhero movie Darkman foresaw the advent of 3D printing, a technology in wide use today. Liam Neeson stars as the titular hero, who uses 3D bio-printing to create human skin in order to disguise himself.
THE NET (1995): Online identity theft might not seem so shocking to modern audiences – but it certainly did in 1995, when The Net was released. The thriller, starring Sandra Bullock, serves as a cautionary tale about the chaos that data thieves can cause when they get their hands on your personal information. But the best prediction the movie made, three decades ago? Online pizza deliveries.
THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998): In The Truman Show, Jim Carrey was an unwitting star of a reality TV show whose every movement was captured on camera for a captive audience. The satirical comedy, released two decades ago, was eerily accurate in predicting the vicarious pleasure of watching TV shows like Big Brother, The Bachelor and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
YOU’VE GOT MAIL (1998): Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s blossoming online romance over a dialup AOL messenger service might have seemed outlandish in 1998 – but it doesn’t seem so unusual nowadays, considering that many couples meet over dating apps before they set eyes on each other in real life.
ENEMY OF THE STATE (1998): Mass government surveillance is taken to the extreme in Enemy of the State, released just before the turn of the new millennium. However, the future it predicts, in which citizens can be tracked through satellites, cell phones and GPS, doesn’t seem so unlikely today.
THE MATRIX (1999): With the Matrix, the Wachowski’s brought us a black leather-clad, rollicking sci-fi adventure which completely changed the genre – while predicting the rise of virtual reality along the way. The simulated life depicted in the movie doesn’t seem so far-fetched now that VR headsets, augmented reality and isolated online lives are the norm.
MINORITY REPORT (2002): In the futuristic world of Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s character is constantly bombarded with targeted ads. The movie’s scarily accurate prediction of customer-tailored advertising, made almost two decades ago, is now an everyday reality, with our shopping habits regularly tracked online.
V FOR VENDETTA (2006): The dystopian future imagined in V for Vendetta, with its fake news and mass spread of misinformation, has become an unfortunate part of social media and the internet today. Images from the movie have also spilled over into real life, with the Guy Fawkes mask becoming a symbol of protest from Hong Kong to Lebanon.