Tropic Thunder is a 2008 action comedy film directed by Ben Stiller, who wrote the screenplay with Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen. The film stars Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Jay Baruchel, and Brandon T. Jackson as a group of prima donna actors making a Vietnam War film. When their frustrated director (Steve Coogan) drops them in the middle of a jungle, they are forced to rely on their acting skills to survive the real action and danger. Tropic Thunder parodies many famous war films, specifically those based on the Vietnam War. The ensemble cast includes Tom Cruise, Nick Nolte, Danny McBride, Matthew McConaughey, and Bill Hader.
Stiller developed Tropic Thunder's premise during the production of Empire of the Sun in the spring of 1987, and later enlisted Theroux and Cohen to complete a script. The film was green-lit in 2006, and was produced by Stuart Cornfeld, Stiller, and Eric McLeod for Red Hour Productions and DreamWorks Pictures as an international co-production between the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. Filming took place in 2007 on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i over thirteen weeks and was the largest film production in the island's history. The extensive marketing campaign included faux websites for the three main characters and their fictional films, a fictional television special, and selling the energy drink advertised in the film, "Booty Sweat".
Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks released Tropic Thunder in the US on August 13, 2008. It received generally positive reviews for its characters, story, faux trailers, and cast performances. However, the depiction of the mentally handicapped and use of blackface makeup attracted controversy. The film opened at the top of the American box office and retained the number-one position for three consecutive weeks, ultimately grossing more than $195 million worldwide before its release on home media on November 18, 2008. Downey was nominated for an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, while both he and Cruise received nominations for a Golden Globe Award.