Death. Destruction. The end-of-the-world as we know it.
They're all predicted for December 21, 2012, according to ancient Mayans and Hollywood's latest disaster flick.
The big budget "2012," starring John Cusack and opening Friday nationwide, is based on the Mayan calendar, whose end date is December 21 of this year.
But it looks like the Mayans and Tinseltown are alone in their prediction.
According to Dr. Mark Hitchcock, biblical scholar and author of “2012: The Bible and the End of the World,” their December doomsday scenario has little connection to this or other end times prophecies.
"While there are these similarities that there is going to be a time of cataclysm, there are big differences in what the Bible says and what the '2012' viewpoint sets forth," he told Fox News. "The Bible doesn’t give us any time periods for when these events are going to take place. In fact Jesus a warned against doing that.”
Indeed many religions have "end time" prophecies. Christianity's book of Revelations speaks of Armageddon, the final battle of good and evil, and the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Shia Muslims predict that The Twelfth Imam, called The Mahdi, will rise up and lead all nations into an era of peace under Islam. (There’s even one book claiming the the Mahdi and Christianity’s Anti-Christ are one and the same.)
In Judaism, the end of days, called acharit hayamim, will see the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and the coming of the Jewish Messiah who will be the new King of Israel.
The difference between these predicted cataclysmic events and the Mayans' is that the Mayans gave a date. Why is this significant, and hence worth a multimillion dollar blockbuster movie?
The Mayans were expert mathematicians and astronomers, with very accurate calendars. Their long-count calendars had five cycles totaling about 26,000 years, with the final cycle ending a few weeks from now! But while the Mayans were accurate, Hollywood filmmakers aren't even pretending to be.
Columbia Tristar rep Steve Elzer told The Wall Street Journal that the film is “a purely entertaining world of fiction.” John Cusack would also not commit to the world ending in December, but does think the planet is "changing and convulsing."
In that respect, Cusack has company.
William Gladstone, anthropologist and author of the book “The Twelve,” a novel that draws on the Mayan and other prophetic traditions, believes the changes expected in 2012 will be very subtle.
“I think that people who are at the highest level of awareness may actually have a sensation of a change, of an energetic change," he said. “I think the vast majority of people won’t necessarily have a conscious feeling of change.”
“2012” is Hollywood's latest apocalyptic offering, but it won’t be the last - not even this year. “The Road,” starring Viggo Mortenson, which opens November 25, is the story of a father and son surviving in a post apocalyptic America. “The Book of Eli” starring Denzel Washington opens January 15, and has the same theme.
Producers of "The Road" are holding pastor screenings of the R-rated film across the country. Larry Ross, who organized the pastor screenings, says the Dimension film is hoping to create interest in the faith community and be a jumping off point for deeper discussions.
“2012”, however has no such grand purpose. The PG-13 film is aimed towards general audiences.
Mixed reviews have greeted its opening. One critic called it "...an orgy of Hollywood excess and incoherence,” but also said it is "among the most entertaining movies you'll see this year."
Hopefully its premise and the Mayans are wrong, and the next two years will not be our last!