Hollywood's visions of the future

Published 2:14 PM ET, Fri October 23, 2015
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"A Boy and His Dog" (1975) takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where Don Johnson and his dog wander in the year 2024. There are some survivors who live underground, but their society isn't necessarily better off. Everett Collection
"Soylent Green," set in an overcrowded New York in 2022, shows a harsh dividing line between the few haves and the many very hungry have-nots. Charlton Heston starred in the 1973 film. From Warner Bros.
Tom Cruise stars in "Minority Report" (2002), set in a 2054 society in which crime has all but been eliminated thanks to the predictions of "pre-cogs," mutant clairvoyants who know where crimes will happen. Director Steven Spielberg paid close attention to the thoughts of futurists, making this film a pretty good guide of things to come. From Twentieth Century Fox
1982's "Blade Runner," directed by Ridley Scott, features a rain-shrouded and very crowded Los Angeles in the year 2019. We may not have its flying cars, but the building-sized ads are mainstays in some large cities. From Warner Bros.
The bleak "Children of Men" posits a world in 2027 in which humanity, unable to give birth, is dying out. Buildings have turned to rubble, and governments have collapsed, leading many migrants to the somewhat more secure British Isles. Technology is little changed from the present -- except for the commercials for suicide pills. From Universal Pictures
"Cloud Atlas" (2012) skips through time, including future sequences set in a super-high-tech Korea of 22nd century and a primitive Hawaii of the 24th. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are among the stars. Warner Bros. Pictures
"Rollerball" (1975) stars James Caan as an elite athlete in 2018. Corporations run the world, and everything is calm and luxurious -- except the sport of Rollerball, which lets the public vent its bloodlust. They love Caan's character, but the ruling executives aren't fond of his individualism. Everett Collection
Will Smith stars in "I, Robot" (2004), which takes place in 2035. Smith's future world features robots who take care of almost every human need, but he's forced into action when they band together to protect humanity ... in their own way. From Twentieth Century Fox
"Snowpiercer" (2013) takes place solely on a giant train that hurtles through ice- and snow-encrusted wastes, thanks to Earth's climate change. People at the front of the train are the elite; those at the back barely stay alive. Eventually, a revolution comes. Chris Evans, right, stars. From Radius/TWC
The "Terminator" series is all over the temporal map, but the heart of the films is the takeover of the planet by Skynet, a computer intelligence that conducts war against humanity. In the original timeline, Skynet becomes self-aware on August 4, 1997, and initiates Judgment Day -- worldwide nuclear apocalypse -- on August 29. Arnold Schwarzenegger, pictured, plays the main Terminator in the series. Melinda Sue Gordon/Paramount Pictures
Schwarzenegger (here with Sharon Stone) also stars in 1990's "Total Recall," which takes place in 2084. His character is apparently implanted with memories and makes his way to Mars. A shootout in a subway station features both a bit of high-tech gadgetry and director Paul Verhoeven's love of graphic violence. Columbia/TriStar Pictures/IMDB
In "12 Monkeys," Bruce Willis, left, has to go back in time from 2027 to the 1990s, before a virus devastated humanity. Brad Pitt, right, is a mental patient he meets when he's committed. The film is based on a 1962 French short, "La Jetee." Universal Studios
In 1993's "Demolition Man," cop Sylvester Stallone ends up in 2032 when he's freed from a cryogenic state to take on archvillain Wesley Snipes. Benjamin Bratt and Sandra Bullock also star. One conceit of the movie: Taco Bell is the only restaurant left. Andrew Cooper/Warner Bros./Getty Images
"Her," the 2013 film directed by Spike Jonze and starring Joaquin Phoenix, is set in an unspecified near future, probably sometime in the 2020s. The sights of the era look very similar to our own, except smartphone-like devices are more versatile, compact and ubiquitous, and people wear high-waisted pants. In the film, Phoenix falls in love with an operating system, with curious results. Warner Bros. Pictures
Nobody alive today will probably be around in 2173, when 1973's "Sleeper" is set. The people of the time can feast on giant vegetables and take pleasure in the Orgasmatron. But one of the jokes of the Woody Allen film is their struggle to understand the late 20th century. Among the artifacts Allen's character finds: a Volkswagen bug, which -- naturally -- still runs. Rollins-Joffe Productions