Deep Impact (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Deep Impact
Deep Impact poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mimi Leder
Produced by David Brown
Richard D. Zanuck
Written by Bruce Joel Rubin
Michael Tolkin
Starring Robert Duvall
Téa Leoni
Elijah Wood
Vanessa Redgrave
Maximilian Schell
Morgan Freeman
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Dietrich Lohmann
Editing by Paul Cichocki
David Rosenbloom
Studio DreamWorks Pictures
The Manhattan Project
Zanuck/Brown Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • May 8, 1998 (1998-05-08)
Running time 121 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $80,000,000[1]
Box office $349,464,664[2]

Deep Impact is a 1998 American science fiction disaster film.[3] 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 and DreamWorks in the United States on May 8, 1998. The plot describes the attempts to prepare for and destroy a 7-mile wide comet, which was to collide with the Earth and cause a mass extinction.

Notably, Deep Impact was released in the same summer as a similarly themed rival, Armageddon, which fared better at the box office, while astronomers described Deep Impact as being more scientifically accurate.[4][5] Deep Impact grossed over $349 million worldwide on an $80 million production budget.

This is the final film of cinematographer Dietrich Lohmann.


On May 10, 1998, teenage amateur astronomer Leo Beiderman (Wood) discovers an unusual object near the stars Mizar and Alcor at a star party in Richmond, Virginia with his school's astronomy club. His teacher alerts astronomer Marcus Wolf (Charles Martin Smith), who realizes that the object is a comet on a collision course with Earth. Wolf tries to get the information out, but dies in a car accident while evading a truck before he can alert the world.

One year later, MSNBC reporter Jenny Lerner (Leoni) investigates the resignation of Secretary of the Treasury Alan Rittenhouse (Cromwell) and his connection to "Ellie". She discovers from Rittenhouse that Ellie is not a mistress but an acronym: "E.L.E.", for "Extinction-Level Event". On the ride back, she is intercepted by the FBI and brought before President Tom Beck (Freeman). Due to Lerner's investigation, President Beck advances the announcement of the grim facts to the media: the comet named Wolf-Beiderman (named after its discoverers Marcus Wolf and Leo Beiderman) is 7 miles (11 km) long—large enough to cause a mass extinction, and possibly wipe out humanity, if it hits Earth. The United States and Russia have been secretly constructing a spacecraft, called the Messiah, in orbit. They plan to use it to transport a team led by Oren Monash (Eldard) that includes Captain Spurgeon Tanner (Duvall) to the comet, so that its path toward Earth can be intercepted with nuclear weapons. Beiderman also speaks before his town after the White House had an error that he had died with Marcus Wolf.

After landing on the comet, the crew members plant nuclear bombs 300 feet (91 m) beneath the surface. When the bombs are detonated, the ship is damaged at the cost of Dr. Gus Partenza (Favreau) and loses contact with Earth. Instead of being knocked off-course or destroyed entirely, the comet splits into two smaller rocks nicknamed "Beiderman" (1.5 miles (2.4 km) long) and "Wolf" (6 miles (9.7 km) long), both world-threatening.

President Beck announces the Messiah crew’s failure, declares martial law, and reveals that governments worldwide have been building underground shelters. The United States' shelter is in the limestone caves of Missouri. The US government conducts a lottery to select 800,000 ordinary Americans under age 50 to join 200,000 pre-selected scientists, engineers, teachers, artists, soldiers, and officials as well as two of every animal. Lerner and the Beiderman family are pre-selected, but Leo's girlfriend Sarah Hotchner (Sobieski) and her family are not. Leo marries Sarah to save her family, but the Hotchners are mistakenly left off the evacuee list. Sarah refuses to leave without them.

A last-ditch effort to use Earth's missile-borne nuclear weapons to deflect the two chunks of the comet fails. President Beck reports on this and states that Beiderman will impact the Atlantic Ocean and that Wolf will impact western Canada which will create a cloud of dust that will block out the sun for two years. This, in turn, will destroy most life on Earth. Leo returns home looking for Sarah, but her family has left for the Appalachian Mountains and is trapped in a traffic jam on the highway. Leo catches up to the family using a small motorcycle in the Hotchners' garage. Sarah's parents urge Leo to take Sarah and her baby brother to high ground. Sarah still does not want to abandon her parents, but they convince her to let them go. Lerner gives up her seat in the last evacuation helicopter to her friend Beth (Innes) who has a young daughter. She instead joins her estranged father Jason (Schell) at their childhood beach house where they reconcile and remember happier times.

The Beiderman fragment impacts in the Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda, creating a megatsunami. Lerner, Jason, Sarah's parents, and millions of other people perish as the tsunami destroys the Atlantic coasts of North America, South America, Europe, and Africa. The world braces for the impact of Wolf in western Canada. Low on fuel and life support, the crew of the Messiah decides to undertake a suicide mission with the remaining nuclear warheads in an effort to obliterate Wolf. After saying goodbye to their loved ones by video conference, the ship reaches the fragment and enters a fissure to blow itself up, which breaks Wolf into much smaller pieces that burn up in Earth's atmosphere. Leo, Sarah, and her baby brother survive as they are among the people that escaped the megatsunami.

After the waters have receded, President Beck speaks to a large crowd in front of the United States Capitol building which is undergoing reconstruction. He urges the nation and the world to continue their recovery.



Jenny Lerner, the character played by Tea 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.[6]


Deep Impact – Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by James Horner
Released May 5, 1998
Recorded 1997–1998
Genre Film score
Length 77:12
Label Sony
James Horner chronology
Deep Impact
The Mask of Zorro

The music for the film was composed and conducted by James Horner. Many of the scores used for Deep Impact were recycled and used in Bicentennial Man; which was released in the following year.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "A Distant Discovery"   3:59
2. "Crucial Rendezvous"   3:58
3. "Our Best Hope"   13:24
4. "The Comet's Sunrise"   5:05
5. "A National Lottery"   8:25
6. "The Wedding"   4:00
7. "The Long Return Home"   4:43
8. "Sad News"   3:46
9. "Leo's Decision"   3:08
10. "The President's Speech"   4:29
11. "Drawing Straws"   10:41
12. "Goodbye and Godspeed"   11:34


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 (which cost almost twice as much as Deep Impact to make), Deep Impact was still a box office hit and was the higher opener of the two.[7] Domestically, it became the highest grossing film directed by a woman and held that record for a decade until Twilight claimed the record in 2008.

The film had a mixed critical reception. Based on 51 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 47% of critics enjoyed the film, with an average rating of 5.7/10.[8] Metacritic gave a score of 40 based on 20 reviews. Janet Maslin of The New York Times said that the film "has a more brooding, thoughtful tone than this genre usually calls for",[9] however Rita Kempley and Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post criticized what they saw as unemotional performances and a lack of tension for the scenario.[10][11]


  1. ^ "Deep Impact". The Numbers. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  2. ^ "Deep Impact". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  3. ^ Olthuis, Andrew. "Deep Impact". Allmovie. Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Disaster Movies". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  5. ^ Plait, Phil (February 17, 2000). "Hollywood Does the Universe Wrong". 
  6. ^ AP: MSNBC gets role in Deep Impact after CNN declines 30/4/98:
  7. ^ "Deep Impact (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  8. ^ "Deep Impact (1998)". Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  9. ^ Maslin, Janet (May 8, 1998). "Movie Review — Deep Impact". The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ Kempley, Rita (March 8, 2000). "'Deep Impact': C'mon Comet!". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 22, 2009. 
  11. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (March 8, 2000). "High Profile, Low 'Impact'". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 22, 2009. 

External links[edit]