Animated computer screens and video graphics, before the principal photography. Used on set, actors were able to interact and respond to faked screens and video.
Teenaged astronomer, Leo Biederman (Elijah Wood), sights an unusual comet which later is found to be heading on a collision course with earth. A reporter for MSNBC in Washington, DC, Jenny Lerner (Téa Leoni) uncovers the governments plan to keep it from the public. U.S. President Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman) announces the grim facts, the comet, large enough to destroy civilization if it strikes Earth. The USA and Russia will dispatch a crew of astronauts led by Capt. Spurgeon 'Fish' Tanner (Robert Duvall) to destroy the comet, using nuclear weapons. The mission does not go well and the comet is not destroyed, instead, it splits into two chunks, one much smaller than the other. The smaller of the two pieces hits the Atlantic Ocean near Virginia Beach and Cape Hatteras, creating a megatsunami about 1,000 to 3,500 ft high. As the world then braces for the impact of the larger comet, which is predicted to kill all remaining plant, animal, and human life on earth.