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Template:Infobox film Deep Impact is a 1998 disaster/science-fiction-drama film released by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks in the United States on May 8, 1998. The film was directed by Mimi Leder, and stars Elijah Wood, Téa Leoni, Morgan Freeman, and Robert Duvall. The plot describes the attempts to prepare for and destroy a comet, which is expected to collide with the Earth and cause a mass extinction. Another "space impact" film, Armageddon, was released about two months after Deep Impact in the United States.[1] Deep Impact was lauded by astronomers as being more scientifically accurate,[2] but Armageddon fared better at the box office.[3] They were about equally received by critics (Armageddon scoring 41% and Deep Impact scoring 46% on the Tomatometer).

Plot Edit

At a star party on May 10, 1998, teenage amateur astronomer Leo Biederman (Elijah Wood) discovers an unusual object near the stars Mizar and Alcor. He alerts professional astronomer Marcus Wolf (Charles Martin Smith) at a local observatory. Wolf learns that the object is a comet, and calculates that it will impact with Earth, but dies in a car accident before he can alert the world. A year later, MSNBC reporter Jenny Lerner (Tea Leoni) investigates the resignation of the United States Secretary of the Treasury (James Cromwell) and his connection to an "Ellie". She discovers that Ellie is not a mistress but an acronym: "E.L.E.", for "Extinction-Level Event". Because of Lerner's investigation, President of the United States Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman) announces the grim facts: The comet—named Wolf-Biederman—is Template:Convert wide, large enough to destroy civilization if it strikes Earth. The United States and Russia have been secretly constructing in orbit the spacecraft Messiah, which they plan to send on a mission to destroy the comet with nuclear weapons. Life changes drastically worldwide, and both Leo and Lerner become celebrities. After landing on the comet, the Messiah crew members plant nuclear bombs into its surface; one crew member dies while another is seriously injured. When the bombs are detonated, Messiah is damaged and loses contact with Earth. Instead of being destroyed the comet splits into two chunks nicknamed "Biederman" (Template:Convert wide) and "Wolf" (Template:Convert wide), both still world-threatening. Beck acknowledges Messiah’s failure, declares martial law, and announces that governments worldwide are building underground shelters. The United States' national refuge is in the limestone caves of Missouri. The US government conducts a lottery to select 800,000 ordinary Americans aged 50 and under to join 200,000 pre-selected scientists, engineers, teachers, artists, soldiers, and officials. Lerner and Leo's family are pre-selected, but Leo's girlfriend Sarah Hotchner (Leelee Sobieski) is 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 comets fails. Leo returns home looking for Sarah, but her family has left for the Appalachian Mountains on a jammed highway. Sarah's parents urge Leo to take Sarah and her baby sister to high ground; Sarah still does not want to abandon her parents, but they convince her to do so. Lerner gives up her seat in an evacuation helicopter to her friend Beth, who has a young daughter. She instead joins her estranged father (Maximilian Schell) at her childhood beach house, where they reconcile and remember happier times. The Biederman fragment impacts in the Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda, creating a supersonic megatsunami that is hundreds of feet high. Leo and Sarah survive but Lerner and her father, Sarah's parents, and millions of others along the Atlantic coasts of North and South America, Europe, and Africa die. The world braces for the impact of Wolf in western Canada, which will create a cloud of dust that will block out the sun for two years. This in turn will destroy all remaining life aside from that which has been evacuated underground. Messiah—believed lost—reaches the fragment and enters a fissure to blow itself up, which breaks Wolf into much smaller pieces; these burn up in Earth's atmosphere, sparing humanity. The film closes with Beck speaking to a large crowd in front of the under-reconstruction United States Capitol, where he urges the nation and the world to continue their recovery.

Cast Edit

Name Character Name Role
Elijah Wood Leo Biederman Protagonist; first discovered comet
Téa Leoni Jenny Lerner Reporter who discovered the government concealment
Robert Duvall Capt. Spurgeon "Fish" Tanner Rendezvous pilot of the Messiah
Morgan Freeman Tom Beck President of the United States
Vanessa Redgrave Robin Lerner Mother of Jenny Lerner
Maximilian Schell Jason Lerner Father of Jenny Lerner
Leelee Sobieski Sarah Hotchner Friend, later wife, of Leo Biderman
James Cromwell Al Rittenhouse Secretary of the Treasury
Ron Eldard Dr. Oren Monash, NASA Commander of the Messiah
Jon Favreau Dr. Gus Partenza Medical officer of the Messiah
Laura Innes Beth Stanley Coworker of Jenny Lerner
Mary McCormack Andrea "Andy" Baker, NASA Pilot of the Messiah
Richard Schiff Don Biederman Father of Leo Biederman
Blair Underwood Mark Simon, NASA Navigator of the Messiah
Mike O'Malley Mike Perry Leo's Teacher
Charles Martin Smith Dr. Marcus Wolf Discovered that the comet would intersect Earth
Dougray Scott Eric Vennekor Coworker of Jenny Lerner
Kurtwood Smith Otis Hefter
Denise Crosby Vicky Hotchner Mother of Sarah Hotchner

Production Edit

As Deep Impact was a Paramount/DreamWorks co-production, Paramount distributed it in the USA, and DreamWorks overseas. International video distribution rights were originally with Universal Studios. Deep Impact was also the first DreamWorks film to be co-produced with another major studio. 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 newly created network.[4]

Reception Edit

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 $350,000,000. 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.[5] Domestically, it became the highest grossing film directed by a female and held that record for a decade until Twilight claimed the record in 2008. The film had a mixed critical reception. Based on 50 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 46% of critics enjoyed the film, with an average rating of 5.7/10.[6] Metacritic gave a score of 40 based on 20 reviews. Elvis Mitchell of the New York Times said that the film "has a more brooding, thoughtful tone than this genre usually calls for"[7], 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.[8][9]

Re-releases Edit

In 2005, Paramount's parent company, Viacom, announced its acquisition of DreamWorks, and completed it in early 2006. Around that time, Viacom split into two companies, the other being called CBS Corporation. CBS inherited Paramount's TV operations, now called CBS Television Studios. Worldwide video and theatrical rights to Deep Impact are with Paramount, while American television rights are in the hands of Trifecta Entertainment & Media (inherited from CBS Television Distribution in 2009.Template:Citation needed

References Edit

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External links Edit

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