Hollywood has produced countless movies about aliens, asteroids, and other otherworldly elements. Some of them take place in deep space, which is vastly unexplored, and others take place on our own planet. The latter typically involves meteors making impact with the Earth and causing a worldwide disaster. This is terrifying to audiences because it could happen at any time – and there’s nothing everyday people can do except wait for their fate. Although a lot of films about space are scientifically accurate, there are also a lot of misconceptions popular movies have exacerbated.
To clear things up, a near earth object is any small solar system body whose orbit comes within close proximity to Earth. Asteroids, for instance, are technically rocky bodies orbiting the sun. Most of them are found in the asteroid belt, which is located between Mars and Jupiter. When smaller asteroid pieces break off, they are called meteoroids. However, when a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, it turns into a meteor or a shooting star.
The thought of a meteor striking the planet is such a scary concept because there is a lot we still don’t know about our solar system. Like sci-fi movies suggest, a meteor could cause severe destruction to our ecosystem – or bring alien life with it. It could cause complete chaos or the end of life on Earth altogether. Here is a complete list of the best asteroid movies ever made. Not all of them are scientifically accurate, but they are all entertaining.
This doomsday movie is based on Philip Gordon Wylie and Edwin Balmer’s 1932 novel of the same name. An asteroid heads to Earth, but unlike is more modern sci-fi movies, there is no team equipped to destroy it before impact. Like in the story of Noah’s Ark, the movie deals with the repercussions of a small amount of survivors and what happens thereafter.
This science fiction film is about a large asteroid headed toward Earth. A group of scientists succeeds in destroying the asteroid – but they end up bringing back a strange green substance. This substance soon mutates into a monster which might be even more dangerous than the asteroid itself. The slime creatures in this movie were played by children in monster suits. Although they might look silly and the script might be a bit cheesy, the film has been named one of the most amusing bad movies ever made.
This science fiction film is considered a western in space. It is about a group of criminals who try to hijack a small asteroid made of sapphire. The story takes place in 2021, which was futuristic for its time. Overall, it’s a fun film with a unique style and an excellent cast. It was even featured in season two, episode eleven of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1991).
This disaster film stars Sean Connery and Natalie Wood. It’s about an asteroid headed toward the Earth, which forces the US space agency to join forces with the USSR space agency. Wood took the role because she wanted to play a Russian in a movie since she is a first-generation Russian born from Russian immigrants. Her birth name was actually Natalia Nikolaevna Zakherenko. Like her character, she is fluent in Russian in real life.
This hilarious horror film is about a comet that wipes out most human beings on the planet. However, two Valley Girls, played by Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney, survive. They end up fighting against cannibal zombies and sinister scientists in order to stay alive. The working title of the film was Teenage Mutant Horror Comet Zombies. Thom Eberhardt, who wrote the screenplay, asked actual teenagers what they would do if they survived the end of the world in order to make the story as believable as possible.
This sci-fi film is presented like a television program that is interrupted by news announcing that meteors have struck the US, France, and China. This film originally aired on television on October 30, 1994. That is the anniversary of The War of the Worlds broadcast (1938), a famous performance about a fake Martian invasion of Earth. This is fitting since Without Warning was inspired by the broadcast. Overall, this is an impressive movie that is eerily realistic.
This disaster film, directed by Michael Bay, is about an asteroid headed toward Earth. In order to stop it, NASA recruits a team of deep-core drillers to save the planet. Although the solution for stopping the asteroid in the movie is clever (planting a nuclear bomb inside), Michael Bay has admitted it would never actually work in real life. Of course, that hasn’t changed the audience’s perception of the film. At the time of its release, this was the highest-grossing action movie for the Walt Disney Company. It stars several famous faces, such as Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thorton, Liv Tyler, Steve Buscemi, and Owen Wilson.
This famous action film is about a comet that is on a collision course with Earth. It stars Robert Duvall, Elijah Wood, Morgan Freeman, and Tea Leoni. However, they aren’t the only recognizable faces in this film. A NASA scientist in the movie is played by a real flight director at NASA, Gerry Griffin. Griffin was heavily involved in the Apollo 12 mission. He went on to become the Director of the Johnson Space Center in Texas.
This action adventure film is about an asteroid impact that sparks a new ice age. It follows a band of survivors who try to find a lifesaving device that will give hope to humanity. Although this story is scientifically inaccurate, it is a fun film that will keep you entertained. It stars Dean Cain, Bettina Zimmermann, and Joanna Taylor. It was even directed by Cristoph Schrewe, who has directed episodes of Fear The Walking Dead (2016), Mr. Robot (2015) and Criminal Minds (2018).
This asteroid movie stars Joe Lando and Claudia Christian. It’s about a massive meteor that enters Earth’s orbit, putting humanity in danger. As the meteor starts to disintegrate, it covers the planet with debris. Although the cast is excellent, the dialog is a little cheesy. This film shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but overall, it’s a decent disaster film.
This comedy, which was written and directed by Lorene Scarfaria, stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. It’s about a man who is abandoned by his panicked wife when she learns about a near earth asteroid. Left alone, he takes a road trip to visit his high school sweetheart. The movie title was inspired by a Chris Cornell Song called Preaching the End of the World. It is from his Euphoria Mourning album.
This action adventure film is about a meteorite that hits a small town around Christmas time. It brings ice and freezing temperatures along with it, which puts citizens in mortal danger. Many of the names in the film, such as Marley, Crooge, and Ratchet, are reference to A Christmas Carol (1984). Although the story is set in Washington, it was actually filmed in Canada. This was the same location where First Blood (1982), the first Rambo movie, was filmed.
This animated film is the fifth movie in the Ice Age franchise. It is also the longest movie in the franchise. It runs for an hour and a half. The story follows a group of animals who are trying to stop an asteroid that is heading straight for them. There are a lot of serious science fiction films that are parodied throughout this movie, including Alien (1979), Prometheus (2012) The Martian (2015), and Gravity (2013).
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence star in Don’t Look Up as two astronomers from Michigan who first discover a comet that is on a collision course with Earth. They estimate that in six months the comet will hit and be an extinction level event. The sci-fi comedy follows the pair as they attempt to warn the government and then the general public about the impending end of the world with disastrous results.
More Asteroid Movies
The movies listed above are the most famous asteroid movies ever made. However, there are plenty of other films involving unstoppable disasters and space horror more broadly. Some of them are the type of action adventure films you would expect to see. Others are documentaries or animated films that put a twist on your expectations. No matter what you’re in the mood to see, you can find a disaster film worth watching:
- The Day The Sky Exploded (1958) this is Italy’s first science fiction movie. It’s about a group of scientists who discover asteroids are headed toward the planet. This film was originally titled La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio, which translates to Death Comes From Space. Although there are low budget effects and a lot of stock footage throughout the film, the story is unique. There are funny moments, romantic moments, and heartwarming moments. Overall, it’s a terrific film for its era.
- The Monolith Monsters (1957) is a science fiction film about a space rock that grows when it comes in contact with water. Any humans in the way are turned into statues.
- The Phantom Planet (1961) is about an invisible asteroid that draws an astronaut and his ship to the asteroid’s surface. Some of the props in this film were also used in the TV series Men Into Space (1959).
- The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is a space opera in the Star Wars franchise. It’s about much more than meteors, but there is a famous scene in outer space where characters travel through an asteroid belt in their spacecraft.
- Asteroid (1997) is a television movie about the government attempting to stop an asteroid from hitting planet Earth. When their plan fails, the world is forced to wait for their fate.
- Judgement Day (1999) this science fiction film is about cultists who kidnap the only man who is capable of stopping a giant meteor heading toward the Earth. Although the movie went directly to video, it has a strong cast and an even stronger script. It stars two actors with undeniable chemistry, Ice-T and Suzy Amis. This pair also appeared together in Cadillac Ranch (1996). This was Amis’ final cinematic appearance before retiring.
- Riverworld (2003) is about an astronaut who dies and is reincarnated with other people who have lived throughout history. This film combines elements from several of the Riverworld novels written by Philip Jose Farmer.
- The Tunguska Project (2005) is a documentary exploring the Tunguska region of Russia. It discusses the Tunguska Event, which was a massive explosion that occurred in 1908.
- Earthstorm (2006) is about a massive asteroid that impacts the moon. This causes a change in the tides on Earth and produces deadly storms.
- Deadly Skies (2006) is a science fiction film is about a scientist who is tracking an asteroid headed toward the planet. However, no one is taking her fears seriously. She is forced to come up with her own plan to blast the asteroid into pieces before it’s too late. This film was directed by Sam Irving and stars Antonio Sabato Junior and Rae Dawn Chong. Although it’s a bit cheesy and has a small budget, it has a great cast.
- The Apocalypse (2007) follows a mother and father who are searching for their child as a killer asteroid heads toward Earth.
- Meteor Storm (2010) is a television movie that takes place in San Francisco. It’s about an astronomer who tries to survive as meteors bombard the city.
- Asteroid Vs. Earth (2014)is about a meteor shower that threatens an extinction level event on Earth. It is considered an action film, an adventure film, and a science fiction film.
- Edge of Tomorrow (2014) is a time travel film where aliens invade Earth and use meteorites as their means for arriving on the planet.
- Asteroid: Final Impact (2015)is about a discredited astrophysicist who tries to stop a deadly asteroid on a collision course toward Earth. It doesn’t have a big budget or fancy special effects, but it is a pretty impressive TV movie.
- The Good Dinosaur (2015) is an animated film about a world where dinosaurs and humans live together. It tells the story about what would’ve happened if an asteroid never hit Earth.
- Mission Impossible (TBD) was filmed onboard the International Space Station. Tom Cruise worked with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers.