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Thursday April 25th 2024

Armageddon | 1998

Armageddon film location: Badlands, South Dakota
Armageddon location: the surface of the asteroid: Badlands, South Dakota | Photograph: wikimedia / Scott Catron

The saving grace of Michael Bay’s gung-ho epic, as an asteroid the size of Texas threatens total oblivion, is the ragtag line-up of quirky characters whose price tag for saving the world is never to pay taxes again – ever.

The ‘Stamper Oil’ offshore rig was the Garden Banks Oil Rig, located some 200 miles off the Gulf Coast of Texas. It was owned (at that time) by EEX Corporation, which has since been acquired by Newfield Exploration Company, based in Houston, Texas.

Armageddon film location: Launch Complex 34 (Apollo 1 Memorial), Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, Florida
Armageddon location: Grace and Harry at the Apollo 1 Memorial: Launch Complex 34, Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, Florida | Photograph: wikimedia / Bubba73

The Space Shuttle launch is for real, filmed at the Kennedy Space Center, east of Orlando, in Florida (seen, naturally, in Apollo 13). The scene between Grace and Harry is filmed at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 34 (LC-34), used by NASA as part of the Apollo Program to launch Saturn I and IB rockets from 1961 through 1968. It was the site of the Apollo 1 fire, which claimed the lives of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee on January 27, 1967, an event commemorated by a plaque.

Filming also took place at NASA’s six million-gallon neutral buoyancy tank at the Johnson Space Center / NASA, Houston, Texas.

It's a global threat – so establishing reaction shots were taken in New York, Washington DC and the little towns of Pilot Point, Aubrey and Denton in Texas.

The surface of the asteroid, where the shuttles Independence and Freedom crash-land, was filmed at the Barry Barber Ranch near the tiny town of Interior, off I-90 east of Rapid City, in the Badlands National Park, South Dakota. The same location had previously featured as the surface of ‘Tango Urilla’ in Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 Starship Troopers. [Kadoka]

Director Bay also used Edwards Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles; the Shrine Auditorium, 665 West Jefferson Boulevard (seen in the original 1933 King Kong); the Very Large Array National Radio Astronomy Observatory west of Magdalena in New Mexico (seen in the Jodie Foster sci-fi epic Contact) and the Fletcher Oil Refinery, 24721 Main Street, Carson between Sepulveda and Lomita Boulevard. The plant finally closed for good in the late 1990s and the 36-acre site purchased by the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, which has cleared and landscaped the site for use as a wastewater treatment plant.

The lively nightclub, from which Rockhound (Steve Buscemi) and Oscar Choi (Owen Wilson) get ejected after celebrating their last night on earth, is the lobby of the wildly elaborate Los Angeles Theatre, 615 South Broadway, downtown Los Angeles (a very popular location, seen Chaplin and Charlie's Angels among many other films).

Armageddon location: RR Blacker House, Pasadena
Armageddon location: Bruce Willis says goodbye: RR Blacker House, Pasadena

Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) visits his ageing dad (Lawrence Tierney) to say goodbye at the RR Blacker House,1177 Hillcrest Avenue, Oak Knoll, Pasadena (which previously supplied the interior of Doc Emmett”s house in Back to the Future) – though you need to watch the restored Director’s Cut on DVD to catch this scene.

Armageddon location: Grand Central Station, New York
Armageddon location: the meteor shower on Grand Central Station, New York...

More global atmosphere shots were filmed in San Michele, France; the Blue Mosque and the Ortakoy Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey; at the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, India and in Shanghai, China.

The opening meteor shower appears to rain down on New York’s Grand Central Station at 53rd Street.

Armageddon location: Fourth and Main Street, downtown Los Angeles
Armageddon location: ...which lands on Fourth and Main Street, downtown Los Angeles

In fact, the streets below are those of downtown Los Angeles, around Fourth Street and Main Street, by the old Barclay Hotel (a locale often standing in for New York, in films as diverse as As Good As It Gets and the 1998 version of Godzilla, before finally appearing as LA in (500) Days Of Summer).

Armageddon filming location: St Brendans, Third Street, Hollywood
Armageddon location: Grace and AJ get married: St Brendan’s, Third Street, Hollywood

The church in which Grace Stamper (Liv Tyler) and AJ Frost (Ben Affleck) get hitched at the end of the movie is St Brendan’s, 310 South Van Ness Avenue at Third Street, Hancock Park, midtown Los Angeles, which may (or may not) be a nod to classic 50s sci-fi War of the Worlds, which also filmed at the church.