Every Asteroid and Comet Disaster Movie Ever Made

Earth-threatening asteroid

I spent part of 2019 digging around for space rocks — that’s movies about space rocks — the idea being to compile a list of every asteroid and comet disaster movie ever made, from the very first silent film in 1916, to the massive blockbusters that launch every special effect at us that digital mastery can conjure up today. The next big task was to watch them all.

Since planetary scientists seem to love acronyms more than asteroids, I named the list IMPACT, the Index of Moving Pictures about Asteroid and Comet Threats. It’s an A to Z list which provides links to where you can watch every drama, because tracking down some of the more obscure titles is a challenge in itself. And fans can rest assured that the asteroid and comet impact disaster genre is definitely not extinct, with seven (seven!) releases over 2020 and 2021.

One for 2020 is Collision Earth (not to be confused with a 2011 movie of the same name). This made-for-TV drama is about an approaching swarm of debris masking a larger asteroid threat. It features a lot of highly colourful on-the-ground monitoring using virtual reality headsets and Marcel Marceau mimicry.

Another release in 2020 is Greenland, a big budget film about a comet impact and the search for sanctuary in an underground shelter in Greenland. But this one is more about clinging onto the fragment of a marriage and a bag of medication.

For release sometime in 2021 is Don’t Look Up. A satire about a comet the size of Everest with a cast the size of Hollywood. Two astronomers try to warn the world about an impending impact that no-one else believes will be a problem because the White House and the world’s largest tech company say so.

Others due to be released include the uniquely titled Asteroid (2021), Asteroid-a-Geddon (2020) and Meteor Moon (2021), the latter seemingly an A-to-Z of physics jargon but that doesn’t mean it’s good. Then there is the only known socially-distanced asteroid impact movie, How it Ends (2021).

Greenland (2020). STX Entertainment. Making an Impact: Lights, Camera and Asteroid! Every asteroid and comet disaster movie ever made rolled into one.
Greenland (2020) – STX Entertainment

If I were to pick a handful of recommendations to watch from the hundred or so on the IMPACT list, below is my top twelve (in no particular order), although I do leave the best until last — and I bet it’s one you’ve never even heard of. But I just want to point something out: I love every single one of the hundred of so movies in this genre.

I suggest starting with the first ever comet impact movie, The End of the World (1916), but note…it’s silent. Then watch A Fire in the Sky (1978), an excellent movie and the one that revived a lost genre, providing a more realistic story than all the others up to that point.

Then watch the TV series Salvation (2017–18), a story which encompasses almost everything featured in all the other movies combined, and undertakes relentless attempts of everything known to man to try and mitigate the disaster using methods which need to be invented regardless of cost or consequence. You might want to follow it up by watching The Expanse (2015-2021) which is literally littered with asteroids.

If you’ve only got minutes to spare, watch the short film Hope (2016) and the comedy sketch The Size of Texas (2011). Or for another light-hearted take on events, watch the opening episode of Season 2 of The Onion News Network (2011).

For a more realistic telling of what might happen before, during and after a massive impact, watch the docu-drama The Super Comet (2007).

If you want a giant creature thrown in the mix, watch the Japanese films Warning from Space (1956) and Gorath (1962), where the latter turns the Earth into a spaceship.

I was totally gripped by the anime Your Name (2016) aka Kimi no Na wa, which is a joy to watch.

But arguably the best movie in this genre is the Japanese film Fish Story (2009). And that’s no big fish story. How on Earth can a silent gap in a punk rock song that never sold, composed of lyrics mistranslated from an obscure book, save the planet?

When you are done with those few recommendations, commit to working your way through the whole list.

Here’s IMPACT with all the links you need to find the movies.

Fish Story (2009)
Fish Story (2009) – Showgate/Amuse Soft Entertainment

Just remember, asteroids and comets are not the same thing, although there are ambiguous types. Think of them, perhaps, as rocky and icy end members of a whole host of compositions in between. And don’t confuse meteoroids, meteors and meteorites, because the term ‘meteor’ is almost always misused in this movie genre. For a brief (I’m lying) synopsis of each drama read Making an Impact: Lights, Camera and Asteroid!