The film was released on March 22, 2013, by FilmDistrict and earned $170 million against a $70 million production budget. Olympus Has Fallen was one of two films released in 2013 that dealt with a terrorist attack on the White House; the other was White House Down. A sequel titled London Has Fallen was released on March 4, 2016, with the principal cast members reprising their roles. Another sequel, Angel Has Fallen, is in the works. It is the first installment in the Has Fallen film series.
Former Army Ranger Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is the lead U.S. Secret Service agent assigned to head the U.S. Presidential detail. Banning maintains a personal, friendly relationship with President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), First Lady Margaret (Ashley Judd) and their son Connor (Finley Jacobsen). During a snowy Christmas evening drive from Camp David to a campaign fundraiser, the car transporting the First Family spins out of control on a bridge due to icy conditions; Banning pulls Asher from the vehicle, but Margaret falls to her death while inside the car.
Eighteen months later, having been removed from the presidential detail, Banning works at Treasury headquarters. During a meeting between Asher and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Tae-Woo (Keong Sim), some DPRK ultra-nationalists led by Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune), mount an air and ground assault that results in the capture of the White House. The group is aided by treasonous members of the prime minister's own detail, including Dave Forbes (Dylan McDermott), a former Secret Service agent. Asher and several top officials are held hostage in the White House bunker; South Korean Prime Minister Lee is executed on live video. Before his own death, detail agent Roma (Cole Hauser) alerts the Director of the Secret Service Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) that "Olympus has fallen".
Kang seeks to use Asher's hostage status as leverage to force U.S. officials to withdraw the Seventh Fleet and U.S. forces from the Korean Peninsula, removing American opposition to a North Korean invasion of South Korea. He also seeks to destroy the American nuclear weapons stockpile by detonating them in their respective silos across the country, turning the U.S. into an irradiated wasteland as revenge for the death of his family. To accomplish this, he requires the access codes to a system in the bunker called Cerberus, which are held by three top government officials within the bunker, including the President. Asher orders the other two officials to reveal their codes to save their lives, certain that he will not give up his code.
During the initial assault by Kang's forces, Banning joins the White House's defenders. He falls back into the White House, disabling the internal surveillance and gaining access to Asher's satellite ear phone, which he uses to maintain contact with Jacobs and Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), the Speaker of the House, now the Acting President since the Vice President is being held hostage with the President and others.
Authorized to proceed, Banning’s first act is to save Connor, whom Kang plans to use to force Asher to reveal his Cerberus code. Banning finds Connor hiding in the walls, thanks to the training he had given him, and sneaks the boy to safety. Banning begins reconnaissance and reduces the terrorists' numbers. Banning kills Forbes, first convincing the traitor to report to Kang that Banning is dead. Meanwhile, Army Chief of Staff General Edward Clegg (Robert Forster) convinces Trumbull to order an aerial SEAL assault on the White House. Kang discovers the assault force and activates the Hydra 6, an advanced anti-aircraft system built by the military. Discovering the system, Banning advises Trumbull and Clegg to abort the mission, but the new weapon system annihilates most of the assault force before Banning can stop it. Kang retaliates for the infiltration by killing Vice President Charlie Rodriguez (Phil Austin).
After Banning disables Kang’s communications, Kang tries to execute Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan (Melissa Leo) outside the White House in front of the media, but Banning rescues her, taking out several of Kang's men in the process. With his forces dwindling, Kang fakes his and Asher's death by sacrificing several of his men and the remaining hostages. However, Banning sees through his ruse, as Kang would never go down without fighting. Kang eventually cracks Asher’s code using brute-force attack and activates Cerberus. As Kang and his remaining men attempt to escape, Banning ambushes them and kills the remaining terrorists in the process. During the fight, Asher tries to break free from Kang's grip and is subsequently shot by him in the stomach. Banning and Kang confront each other and a climactic fight breaks out, in which Kang quickly maintains the upper hand. Eventually, Banning kills Kang by stabbing him in the head with a knife and then disables Cerberus with the assistance of Trumbull and his staff, with only seconds to spare. During daybreak that day, Banning walks out with Asher and is received by the soldiers posted to await their arrival. After the events, the U.S. begins to heal from the attack, while Banning once again heads the president's security detail. President Asher addresses the public while Banning, Jacobs, Clegg, and Connor observe.
Olympus Has Fallen was directed by Antoine Fuqua h based on a script by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt in their first screenwriting effort. The production company Millennium Films acquired the spec script in March 2012, and Gerard Butler was cast later in the month as the star. The rest of the characters were cast throughout June and July.
In 2012, Millennium Films competed against Sony Pictures, which was producing White House Down (also about a takeover of the White House) to complete casting and to begin filming.
Filming began in Shreveport, Louisiana, in mid-July 2012. Because Olympus Has Fallen was filmed so far from its actual setting of Washington, D.C., the entire production relied heavily upon visual effects, particularly computer-generated imagery. For example, computers created nearly all of the opening sequence in which the First Lady is killed in a car accident, with chroma key greenscreen technology used to composite the actors into the computer-generated snowy scenery. For scenes where actors walked in or out of the White House, a first-floor façade and entrance were built; computers added the second floor, roof, and downtown D.C. cityscape. Action scenes with the White House in the background were filmed in open fields and the White House and D.C. were added in post-production.
Musician and orchestral composer Trevor Morris produced the score. His past projects include shows The Tudors and The Borgias. The record was released on March 15, 2013 via Relativity Music Group label. The runtime is one hour, eight minutes, and 57 seconds.
Olympus Has Fallen was released in the United States on March 22, 2013. It was initially scheduled for an April 5, 2013 release, but moved to avoid competition with The Heat, which was to open at the same time (its release was later pushed back to June 28). FilmDistrict distributed the film.
The film's trailer was criticized for using the U.S. Emergency Alert System, and several cable companies were fined by the Federal Communications Commission for airing the ad.
Olympus Has Fallen grossed $98.9 million in the U.S. and Canada and $70.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $170.2 million against a budget of $70 million. In its first weekend, the film earned $30.5 million finishing second at the box office, and exceeded predictions of $23 million.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on August 13, 2013, in the U.S. It earned $38.2 million in video rental sales in the U.S.
Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 48% based on 181 reviews and a weighted average rating of 5.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "It's far from original, but Olympus Has Fallen benefits from Antoine Fuqua's tense direction and a strong performance from Gerard Butler—which might be just enough for action junkies". Metacritic assigns the film a weighted average score of 41 out of 100 based 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.
Richard Roeper compared Olympus Has Fallen with the Die Hard series for sharing the same style and momentum, calling it as "just too much of a pale Die Hard ripoff." He gave the film a C.
David Edelstein was much more negative about the film. While praising Butler's role as a "solid" character, Edelstein criticized the script and the violence of the film, writing "Olympus Has Fallen is a disgusting piece of work, but it certainly hits its marks – it makes you sick with suspense."
Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett and Radha Mitchell returned for a sequel titled London Has Fallen revolving around a plot to strike London during the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Production was scheduled to begin in May 2014 in London, with Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt returning to pen the script. Director Antoine Fuqua, however, was not returning due to his commitments with The Equalizer.
On May 1, 2014, it was announced that Focus Features had acquired distribution rights to the sequel and would release it on October 2, 2015, though this was later pushed back to January 22, 2016. However, the film's release was delayed to March 4, 2016. On August 18, 2014, it was announced that Charlie Countryman director Fredrik Bond would be taking over direction from Fuqua, but Bond left the film on September 18, just six weeks before the shooting was set to begin. However, on September 28, 2014, it was announced that Babak Najafi will take over direction of the sequel.
On October 10, 2014, it was announced that Jackie Earle Haley would be joining London Has Fallen as a Deputy Chief Mason. Filming for the sequel began on October 24, 2014.