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Two-Minute Warning (1976)

A psychotic sniper plans a massive killing spree in a Los Angeles football stadium during a major championship game. The police, led by Captain Peter Holly (Charlton Heston) and SWAT ... See full summary »



(novel) (as George La Fountaine), (screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Kapp ...
Charlie Tyler


A psychotic sniper plans a massive killing spree in a Los Angeles football stadium during a major championship game. The police, led by Captain Peter Holly (Charlton Heston) and SWAT commander Sergeant Button (John Cassavetes), learn of the plot and rush to the scene. Still, they may be too late, as an all-star cast finds itself lined up in the sights of a gun-toting madman. Written by Tim Tompkins <homerjer@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


91,000 people. 33 exit gates. One Sniper... See more »


Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 November 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pánico en el estadio  »


Box Office


$6,700,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Publicity for this picture declared that there was one sniper, thirty-three exit gates and 91,000 people. In the film's source book, the stadium had 75,000 people. See more »


When Pratt, the SWAT team member, is climbing up to the stadium lights platform, he is first shown in a long shot climbing up the fixed rung ladder attached to the platform's support pole. A close-up then shows Pratt climbing up the steel extension ladder that he used a moment before to ascend to the support pole. A wide shot then shows him ascending the fixed rung ladder on the support pole again. See more »


Steve: He's a hell of a charmer. Just make sure his hair doesn't fall in your drink.
See more »


Referenced in Sudden Death (1995) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

It's a great day for football … And random sniper-killing!
26 December 2009 | by See all my reviews

In more ways than one, "Two-Minute Warning" is very reminiscent to that other 70's movie "Rollercoaster". They're both quite obscure in spite of the famous names involved, they both qualify as paranoid disaster movies and they both could and should have done more with their potentially brilliant basic plot outlines. I use the terms paranoid thriller and disaster movie to describe these films because they are mixtures of both. In paranoid thrillers a psychopath usually selects random innocent targets to agonize and in disaster movies large masses of people suddenly find themselves trapped or in great inescapable danger. "Two- Minute Warning" is a nearly perfect amalgam, with its premise of a lone sniper – whose motivations and even his face remain unknown throughout the film – hiding in the scoreboard tower of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the football championship finale; when the stadium is at its full 91.000 maximum capacity. His motivations may be unknown, but the stone cold and brutal opening sequence, in which the shooter target- practices against an innocent man on a bicycle already manifested that he's merciless and extremely dangerous. When a TV-camera spots the sniper in his hideout, a large-scaled police operation unfolds behinds the scenes of the ongoing football game, with police Captain Peter Holly (Charlton Heston) preferring to wait and SWAT commander Burton (John Cassavetes) insisting on prompt action.

Overall, I would say that the suggestive power and ideas behind "Two- Minute Warning" are far more disturbing and nightmarish than the actual execution. But perhaps it's also better this way, because the actuality of the subject could still cause large-scaled mass hysteria even nowadays. Strictly talking in terms of cinematic value, "Two-Minute Warning" nevertheless benefices from a very powerful first half hour and an astonishingly tense climax. Apart from the aforementioned target practice sequence, the opening contains many more sequences that literally ooze with suspense. For example the scenes in which the sniper observes the crowd through the telescopic lens of his rifle, and occasionally stops to zoom in on a potential victim, are literally nerve-wrecking. The POV camera angle increases the intensity and this sniper just happens to be crazy enough to shoot anyone, and thus the level of tension remains quite high. The finale, last 15 to 20 minutes or so, are sheer disaster movie genius, with devastating images of chaotic escaping attempts and unsettling footage of people getting overrun on their turbulent journey to the emergency exits. These massively staged sequences obviously aren't pleasant to look at, but you simply have to admire any film that mobilized such large crowds of people. The middle section is slightly overlong and drags in places, as it particularly focuses on the police interactions and the slightly more detailed introduction of a handful of football fans in the stadium. The script focuses on certain people, like a bickering elderly couple, a family of four, a man with huge gambling debts and a woman openly flirting with the man in the seat next to her, but we don't really get to know them. These short interludes might have worked very effectively in the novel ("Two-Minute Warning" adapted from a novel by George La Fontaine Sr.) but in a film they merely just serve to fill up some time. The violence, like the impact of the rifle shots, is quite harsh and shocking. The acting performances are decent but certainly not outstanding, with routine roles for disaster movie veteran Charlton Heston ("Earthquake", "Skyjacked"…), Martin Balsam ("Psycho"), Beau Bridges, David Janssen and Jack Klugman. Recommended, in a double- feature with the aforementioned "Rollercoaster" perhaps, but for genuine disaster movies check out "The Towering Inferno" and "The Poseidon Adventure" and for genuine paranoid thrillers check out the first "Dirty Harry" (also with a sniper).

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