Deep Impact (film)
Deep Impact is a 1998 American science-fiction disaster film directed by Mimi Leder, written by Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin, and starring Robert Duvall, Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell, and Morgan Freeman. Steven Spielberg served as an executive producer of this film. It was released by Paramount Pictures in North America and by DreamWorks Pictures internationally on May 8, 1998. The film depicts the attempts to prepare for and destroy a 7-mile (11 km) wide comet set to collide with Earth and cause a mass extinction.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mimi Leder|
|Produced by||David Brown|
Richard D. Zanuck
|Written by||Bruce Joel Rubin|
|Music by||James Horner|
|Edited by||Paul Cichocki|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
DreamWorks Pictures (through United International Pictures)
|Box office||$349.5 million|
Deep Impact was released in the same summer as a similarly themed film, Armageddon, which fared better at the box office, while astronomers described Deep Impact as being more scientifically accurate. Both films were similarly received by critics, with Armageddon scoring 39% and Deep Impact scoring 45% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Deep Impact grossing over $349 million worldwide on an $80 million production budget. It was the final film by cinematographer Dietrich Lohmann, who died before the film's release.
In May 1997, at a star party, teenage amateur astronomer Leo Beiderman discovers an unusual object. He sends a picture to astronomer Dr. Marcus Wolf, who realizes it is a comet on collision course with Earth. Wolf dies in a car crash while racing to raise the alarm.
A year later, journalist Jenny Lerner investigates Secretary of the Treasury Alan Rittenhouse over his connection with "Ellie", whom she supposes to be a mistress. She is abducted by the FBI to meet President Tom Beck, who persuades her to sit on the story for 48 hours in return for a prominent role in the press conference he will arrange. She subsequently discovers that "Ellie" is actually the acronym "E.L.E.", for "extinction-level event". Two days later, Beck announces that the comet Wolf-Beiderman is headed for Earth and could cause humanity's extinction. He reveals that the United States and Russia have been constructing the "Messiah" in orbit, a spacecraft to transport a team to alter the comet's path with nuclear bombs.
While rigging nuclear bombs on the comet one astronaut is blinded and another flung into space. The ship is damaged by the blast and loses contact with Earth. Beck announces the mission's failure, the bombs split the comet into a larger (Wolf) and a smaller (Beiderman) piece, both still headed for Earth. Martial law is imposed and a lottery selects 800,000 Americans to join 200,000 pre-selected individuals in underground shelters. Lerner and the Beiderman family are pre-selected, but Leo's girlfriend Sarah and her family are not. Leo marries Sarah in a vain attempt to save her family, and Sarah refuses to go to the shelter without them.
A last-ditch effort to deflect the comets with ICBMs fails. Leo eschews his safety to find Sarah and takes her and her baby brother to high ground. Lerner gives up her evacuation helicopter seat to her friend Beth and her young daughter, reconciling with her estranged father on the beach. Comet Beiderman creates a megatsunami that destroys much of the East Coast of the United States. Leo, Sarah, and her baby brother survive on the Appalachian Mountains.
The crew of Messiah decide to obliterate Wolf by undertaking a suicide mission. After saying goodbye to their loved ones, they fly the ship directly into a deep crevasse and use their remaining nuclear warheads to blow Wolf into smaller pieces that burn up harmlessly in Earth's atmosphere.
After the waters recede, President Beck speaks to a large crowd at the damaged United States Capitol, encouraging them to remember those lost as they begin to rebuild.
- Robert Duvall as Captain Spurgeon "Fish" Tanner, a veteran astronaut who becomes the rendezvous pilot of the Messiah.
- Téa Leoni as Jenny Lerner, an MSNBC Journalist.
- Elijah Wood as Leo Beiderman, a teenage astronomer who discovers the Wolf-Beiderman comet.
- Vanessa Redgrave as Robin Lerner, the mother of Jenny.
- Maximilian Schell as Jason Lerner, the estranged father of Jenny.
- Morgan Freeman as Tom Beck, the President of the United States.
- James Cromwell as Alan Rittenhouse, the Secretary of the Treasury who resigns in light of the Wolf-Beiderman comet threat.
- Ron Eldard as Commander Oren Monash, the Mission Commander for the Messiah.
- Jon Favreau as Dr. Gus Partenza, the medical officer of the Messiah.
- Laura Innes as Beth Stanley, the co-worker of Jenny.
- Bruce Weitz as Stuart Caley, Jenny's boss at MSNBC.
- Mary McCormack as Andrea "Andy" Baker, the pilot of the Messiah.
- Richard Schiff as Don Beiderman, the father of Leo.
- Betsy Brantley as Ellen Beiderman, the mother of Leo.
- Leelee Sobieski as Sarah Hotchner, the girlfriend of Leo.
- Blair Underwood as Mark Simon, the navigator of the Messiah.
- Dougray Scott as Eric Vennekor, the co-worker of Jenny.
- Mark Moses as Tim Urbanski, another co-worker of Jenny
- Aleksandr Baluev as Colonel Michail Tulchinsky, a nuclear specialist from Russia and crew member of the Messiah.
- Mike O'Malley as Mike Perry, Leo's teacher.
- Francis X. McCarthy as General Scott
- Kurtwood Smith as Otis "Mitch" Hefter, a NASA worker.
- O'Neal Compton as Morten Entriken, Advisor to the President
- Kimberly Huie as Wendy Mogel, engaged to Mark Simon.
- Christopher Darga as Section Leader
The origins of Deep Impact started in the late 1970s when producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown approached Paramount Studios proposing a remake of the 1951 film When Worlds Collide. Although several screenplay drafts were completed, the producers were not completely happy with any of them and the project remained in "development hell" for many years. In the mid 1990s, they approached director Steven Spielberg, with whom they had made the 1975 blockbuster Jaws, to discuss their long-planned project. However, Spielberg had already bought the film rights to the 1993 novel The Hammer of God by Arthur C. Clarke, which dealt with a similar theme of an asteroid on a collision course for Earth and humanity's attempts to prevent its own extinction. Spielberg planned to produce and direct The Hammer of God himself for his then-fledgling DreamWorks studio, but opted to merge the two projects with Zanuck and Brown, and they commissioned a screenplay for what would become Deep Impact. In 1995, the forthcoming film was announced in industry publications as "Screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin, based on the film When Worlds Collide and The Hammer of God by Arthur C Clarke" though ultimately, following a subsequent redraft by Michael Tolkin, neither source work would be credited in the final film. Spielberg still planned to direct Deep Impact himself, but commitments to his 1997 film Amistad prevented him from doing so in time, particularly as Touchstone Pictures had just announced their own similarly-themed film Armageddon, also to be released in summer 1998. Not wanting to wait, the producers opted to hire Mimi Leder to direct Deep Impact, with Spielberg acting as executive producer. Clarke's novel was used as part of the film's publicity campaign both before and after the film's release and he was disgruntled about not being credited on the film.
Jenny Lerner, the character played by Téa Leoni, was originally intended to work for CNN. CNN rejected this because it would be "inappropriate". MSNBC agreed to be featured in the movie instead, seeing it as a way to gain exposure for the then newly created network.
Director Mimi Leder later explained that she would have liked to travel to other countries to incorporate additional perspectives, but due to a strict filming schedule and a comparatively low budget, the idea was scratched. Visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar felt that coverage of worldwide events would have distracted and detracted from the main characters' stories.
A number of scientists worked as science consultants for the film including astronomers Gene Shoemaker, Carolyn Shoemaker, Josh Colwell and Chris Luchini, former astronaut David Walker, and the former director of the NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center Gerry Griffin.
|Deep Impact – Music from the Motion Picture|
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||May 5, 1998|
|James Horner chronology|
The music for the film was composed and conducted by James Horner.
Deep Impact debuted at the North American box office with $41,000,000 in ticket sales. The movie grossed $140,000,000 in North America and an additional $209,000,000 worldwide for a total gross of $349,000,000. Despite competition in the summer of 1998 from the similar Armageddon, Deep Impact was still a box office hit and was the higher opener of the two.
The film had a mixed critical reception. Based on 86 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 45% of critics enjoyed the film, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "A tidal wave of melodrama sinks Deep Impact's chance at being the memorable disaster flick it aspires to be." Metacritic gave a score of 40 out of 100 based on 20 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times said that the film "has a more brooding, thoughtful tone than this genre usually calls for", while Rita Kempley and Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post criticized what they saw as unemotional performances and a lack of tension.
At the 1998 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, the film was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress for Leoni (lost to Lacey Chabert for Lost in Space) and Worst Screenplay For A Film Grossing More Than $100 Million (Using Hollywood Math) (lost to Godzilla).
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