Asteroid! A look back at the cinematic space-rock bombardment of the late '90s

At 11:00 this morning, an asteroid 5-20 meters in diameter came within 7,800 miles of Earth. Asteroids and meteorites (ever wonder the difference?) make close calls with Earth all the time, but no time in the history of the world was so harrowing as 1997 and 1998, when the Earth (well, mostly America) came under-siege of five cinematic monstrosities, looming to threaten our freedom, liberty and right to barbeque. Thank God for Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis and WMDs, because only with their help was America able to survive these astronomical threats.

Doomsday Rock (1997) The first in this string of asteroid/meteorite movies, Doomsday Rock was a made for TV "epic miniseries" produced for the Family Channel. Already sounds like a winner, right? The basic premise is that Dr. Paul Sorenson, an astronomer, tries to warn the government about an incoming comet certain to cause impending doom. The government, à la every disaster movie, blows him off, so he hijacks a nuclear weapons silo to fight off the comet on his own.

Asteroid (1997)

Never to be outdone, NBC soon followed with its own TV movie,


. Annabella Sciorra stars as a researcher at the National Observatory right up in Boulder. One night, while studying pictures of a comet set to pass by Earth on the 4th of July (that's right, the 4th of July) she spots something a bit disconcerting -- two asteroids, one with the possible impact force of "1,000 Hiroshimas" heading straight for Earth. Most awesome catchphrase of the trailer: "The only thing they have to hold onto is each other, because the sky [dramatic pause]. Is [dramatic pause]. Falling."

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