Top Disaster Movies Set in New York City

New York, one of the world’s most populous cities, is not only the favorite tourist site but also the most popular setting for movies and books. With its high rise buildings and round the clock life, it is the best place for directors to destroy in the movies. From natural disasters destroying The Big Apple to violence and science fiction causing massive destruction to the beautiful city, here is the list of Top Disaster Movies Set in New York:

Deluge (1933)

Poster of the movie Deluge

Deluge is a 1933 Hollywood production, an apocalyptic science fiction that is set in the scenario of mighty earthquakes and tsunami inundating New York Cityb. By the 1930s, New York had acquired most of the skyscraper buildings and towers that it is known for today, and all moviemakers from then onward preferred to stage destruction in the city of New York.

The movie is based on a novel by the same title written by S. Fowler Wright. Scientists presume that the world is going to end because of sudden Earthquakes and celestial events. New York City is completely devastated, and the survivors start a new civilization at the end.

The novel was based in England, but the movie’s setting was shifted to New York. Starring Sidney Blackmer (Martin) and Lois Wilson (Helen), who are husband and wife, try to escape the inundated city. However, Martin loses his wife and children. The appearance of other characters follows the entrance of the plot into a love triangle and attempts to rebuild society from the ruins.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Film poster of a snow-covered New York City skyline

The film Day After Tomorrow is a glimpse of the future of global warming, set in a science fiction setting. Jack Hall is an American climatologist who realizes the melting of ice shelves due to global warming. The government ignored his constant warnings. But all his fears prove true when the world is taken over by a disastrous snowstorm. The storm begins in the Northern hemisphere and divides into three parts. The American part of the storm takes over New York, bringing down the temperature to -150 degrees. In New York, Jack’s son fights for survival along with his friends. 

The movie is an attempt by its moviemakers to open the eyes of the ignorant. As the situation alleviates, the president apologizes publicly for his ignorance. This disaster movie is perhaps an attempt to bring to light the issue of global warming and aware people how it can destroy us.

I am Legend (2007)

A man wearing leather clothes and holding a rifle walks alongside a dog on an empty street. A destroyed bridge is seen in the background.

This post-apocalyptic action-thriller movie starring Will Smith, based on the 1954 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson, is directed by Francis Lawrence. This movie set in New York City sees no human as an enemy but a mutated virus that was originally created to cure cancer. The mutated virus annihilates the human race, killing 98% of humans while turning most of the rest into Cannibalistic creatures, and leaving the remaining few as prey to them. 

Neville (Will Smith) is the only human left in New York since he is immune to the virus. Neville is left as a lone warrior against the mutants until he finds two more immune humans. Neville is bent on finding the cure for the dark-seekers and the movie praises his lone efforts for the cause, ending in a dramatic and emotional turn.

Independence Day (1996)

poster for Independence Day

Independence Day is a 1996 American science fiction disaster film based on an alien invasion on earth. It stars Will Smith and features an attack on earth by an extraterrestrial race. The UFO appears over Washington on the 2nd of July as the celebrations of Independence Day are midway.  The president is informed of the impending disaster, and he orders mass evacuations of New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, but he is too late. The UFO begins firing and kill many, leaving the cities in ruins.

The plan to destroy the UFOs is executed in an Adriatic turn on the American Independence day, blowing the ships into fireworks celebrating independence. The movie won academy awards for the best visual and sound effects and sparked the patriotic hearts.

Deep Impact (2001)

Original theatrical poster for the film Deep Impact

Deep Impact, unfolds in an actual deep impact on the city of New York, by a comet that hits the Pacific Ocean. The stir in the Pacific Ocean causes disastrous Earthquakes and tidal waves in New York. The Tidal waves rise higher than the mighty Statue of Liberty. They show no mercy to the proudly owned skyscrapers of New York City, knocking them over like Lego blocks. 

Amidst the mayhem, Elijah Wood tries to escape the destruction by mounting on a motorcycle and driving away from the chaos. Meanwhile, the Governments everywhere prepare for the landing of the comet by building underground shelters. A spacecraft called Messiah and its crew take up the mission to save the Earth from the apocalypse.

Armageddon (1998)

a poster of the film Armageddon

Objects from outer space bombarding and bent on destroying Earth have always been a major theme of movies throughout time. Talking about asteroids and comets hitting the mother earth, Armageddon is a memorable name when it comes to disaster movies. This movie, directed by Michael Bay, shows a massive meteor entering the Earth’s atmosphere and bombarding New York City. 

The services of Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) are acquired by NASA to get the Earth rid of the incumbent annihilation of the human race. Harry and his team improvise a plan in an emotional and romantic setting. Working with Harry is his daughter, Grace, whom he wished to be married to a crew member. The story is all emotion and tension as the meteor is going to hit the Earth at any moment.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

a poster of the film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

The makers of this movie chose neither aliens not extraterrestrial objects to cause chaos, but they employ robots for the purpose. The movie begins with an airship mooring over the Empire State Building, aboard is Dr. Joe Vargas who had arrived to deliver a package. The sudden disappearance of the doctor causes a stir among reporters, who later find more scientists vanishing.  A reporter, Polly Perkins, is looking into the matter and meets Dr. Jennings, to whom the package was to be delivered. 

Suddenly New York is under attack by giant metal robots, which tear down roads and buildings of The Big Apple that come their way. When things get out of hand, Sky Captain, Joe Sullivan, also Polly’s ex-lover, is called to save the city. What is so important about the package and how does Joe manage to save the city, unveils later in the film. 

Escape from New York (1981)

the official poster of the film Escape from New York

Escape from New York unravels an innovative plot. Due to an uncontrollably high crime index in the United States, Manhattan is turned into a high-security prison. All the prisoners are sentenced to life, surrounded by a 50-foot wall. The bridges have all been demolished, and Manhattan becomes a bloody prison island. The movie unveils as the president is captured, and attempts are made to rescue him among threats to destroy New York City by terrorist organizations. 

The movie is directed by John Carpenter, starring Kurt Russell and Lee Van Cleef. The director, John Carpenter, persuaded the city to shut down the city lights of ten blocks every night for shooting the film, for a touch of originality. It was the first film that was allowed shooting at the Statue of Liberty at night. After tedious routines and shootings, it was released in 1981 and was rather very warmly received by the audience.

King Kong (2005)

the official poster of the 2005 film King Kong 

The movie King Kong features a giant ape climbing over the Empire State Building, a scene most people have seen at some point or another in life. This 2005 film is the second remake of the original 1933 movie. The movie revolves around the idea of animal and human emotions. Ann, a female movie star, is kidnapped and offered as a sacrifice to King Kong, a giant 25 feet gorilla. 

Scared at the beginning, Ann gradually wins over the giant through her singing and dancing. She directs the ape’s intelligence into emotion. When her rescuers arrive, Kong runs carrying her in his hand, tearing down the New York City, including the roads, houses, and buildings. Little did the rescuers know that he would not harm Ann. Kong, who is seen as a threat to the city, is brought down after he climbs the famous Empire State Building.

To the residents of New York, it must be an emotional watch as they see the giant tearing down their buildings and killing people. On the other hand, he gains favor with the audience by befriending the protagonist. 

Final Words

Of all the movie genres, the most thrilling one is that include disasters and apocalypse. If you are a big fan of disaster movies that include destruction by alien invasions, natural catastrophes, and massive violence, you will love all these movies set in New York City.