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.
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 38% and Deep Impact scoring 45% on Rotten Tomatoes. Deep Impact grossed 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 1998, at a star party, teenage amateur astronomer Leo Beiderman observes an unidentifiable object in the night sky. He sends a picture to astronomer Dr. Marcus Wolf, who realises 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 apprehended by the FBI and taken to meet President Tom Beck, who persuades her not to share 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 an acronym — ELE — which stands for “extinction-level event”. Two days later, Beck announces that the comet Wolf–Beiderman is on course to impact the Earth in roughly one year 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.
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.