The Top Fire-Themed Movies

Fire has always been a useful dramatic and thematic device for storytellers. One of the reasons for this is the ambiguous properties of fire. More so than any other element (element in the traditional sense, …


Fire has always been a useful dramatic and thematic device for storytellers. One of the reasons for this is the ambiguous properties of fire. More so than any other element (element in the traditional sense, not the chemical one), fire is given equal weight as a force for good and a force of destruction. It can be both welcoming and nourishing – the hearth, the campfire – or threatening and deadly.

For centuries, fire has been ubiquitous in folktales and mythology. As mentioned, there is ambiguity: Fire is seen as a positive force in the story of Prometheus, who stole fire from the Greek Gods to give to humans. Of course, we don’t need to point out that there are negative, satanic connotations surrounding fire in Christian traditions. In modern story-telling, you’ll find fire-themed gaming titles like Garena Free Fire, Fire Forge slots, and even a hugely popular Fire Fighter Simulator on Steam.

But many brilliant fire-themed movies have stood out to display the awesome raw force of the most mystical of the classical elements. Here are some of the best:

The Towering Inferno

The Towering Inferno routinely ranks atop the pile when it comes to fire-themed movies. This film was directed by John Guillermin and released in 1974. With a runtime of 2 hours and 45 minutes, The Towering Inferno is an epic flick. Starring the inimitable Paul Newman alongside Steve McQueen, this film is well worth a watch. It has a stunning 7.0/10 rating from 47,000 reviewers on IMDb, so you know it’s high-class ‘burn-grade’ material.

It’s the story of a party that takes place in a nearly completed skyscraper. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned, and a massive inferno breaks out, threatening to devour everything and everyone in its path. Sadly, this building is way too tall for firefighters to effectively put out the blaze. Of course, it was a fictional creation towering 125 stories into the sky. The estimated budget of the film was $14 million, and it grossed ten times that at the worldwide box office.

Firestarter 1984

Drew Barrymore was a child prodigy, starring in massive box office successes like ET and lesser-known flicks like Firestarter. Before she became known as the adorable rom-com actress and comedy legend, she had some pretty serious roles in action movies. Firestarter – a Stephen King creation – is one such production. As its namesake suggests, it is a horror story with pyrotechnics galore. It’s about a married couple who participate in dangerous medical experiments, but the story really takes a turn with their daughter.

She gains extraordinary abilities as a pyrokinetic. She sets the town ablaze, much to the astonishment of the authorities who seek to harness her incredible abilities for their own nefarious ends. The film also stars other legendary Hollywood icons. Actors like Heather Locklear and Martin Sheen were sublime. We picked the original version and not the 2008 film because this one was light years ahead of anything at the time. With an IMDb rating of 6.0/10 from 36,000 reviewers, Firestarter ironically tanked at the box office, raking in $17 million worldwide, with an estimated budget of $15 million!


Daylight stars Sylvester Stallone as a firefighter in New York. The film was directed by Rob Cohen and released in 1996. While most people remember Daylight as a disaster movie filled with flooding, it is also the story of explosive gases and a raging inferno in a tunnel under the river.

This was a big-budget movie starring Stallone, and studios expected it to clean up at the box office. It had a rather lacklustre showing in the US, raking in just $33 million. Internationally it brought in a solid $159 million, off a budget of $80 million.

While not a raging commercial success, it made for a dizzying series of visual spectacles. It is filled with plenty of action-packed entertainment to keep hard-core Stallone fans well and truly satisfied. Forget the critics – Daylight is one hell of a hot movie to watch.


In 1991, Backdraft was released to audiences. This action-packed film stars Robert De Niro, William Baldwin, and Kurt Russell. These heavyweight actors delivered a transformative performance in a firefighting movie par excellence. This movie was nominated for several Oscars at the Academy Awards. With a budget of $40 million, Backdraft had a solid showing in the United States & Canada, with $78 million in takings and gross worldwide returns of $152 million. So, it is considered a commercial success.

You’re probably wondering what it’s all about. Backdraft tells the story of two brothers in the fire department – Brian and Stephen. They grew up in a fiercely competitive home, and that rivalry transfers over to the firefighting department, where they now find themselves. Of course, the term backdraft – the eponymous title – is a real phenomenon that occurs when fighting fires. There is also a sinister element at work with a sleazy politician involved in arson. With a rating of 6.7/10 on IMDb and a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 75%, you know this one is well worth a watch!

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