New York City is no longer safe from being blown up — on the big screen. Two new trailers for upcoming sci-fi movies — an untitled Paramount film from producer J.J. Abrams and Warner Bros.’ “I Am Legend” — have hit theaters featuring images of exploding New York landmarks.
For years before 9/11, filmmakers frequently used New York as the setting for movies like “Independence Day” (1996), “Armageddon” (1997) and “Godzilla” (1998). In the wake of the terrorist attacks, Hollywood sent its alien invasions elsewhere.
“I think it actually shows we’re strong enough now to accept movies that do trash a city as iconic as New York post-9/11,” says Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers, a box-office tracking firm.
“Nobody will ever forget 9/11, but I think the country and audiences are at a place where they can watch portrayals like that without evoking tensions — other than the ones intended by the filmmakers, of course.”
Tension is exactly what Abrams, the co-creator of “Lost,” intended for the cryptic trailer that debuted before “Transformers.” It starts with footage of partying New Yorkers, whose shindig abruptly ends with an explosion that sends the demolished head of the Statue of Liberty crashing into their street.
The movie’s title is being kept under wraps, though it is generating chatter on the Web under the fake name of “Cloverfield.” The official site (1-18-08.com) divulges just the release date.
In “I Am Legend,” opening in theaters Dec. 14 and based on a 1954 vampire novel, Will Smith plays the last man on Earth. To stanch the calamity that is threatening the human race, military jets destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, as the trailer graphically shows.
Former Mayor Ed Koch, who reviews movies for the Villager newspaper, says adult New Yorkers are smart enough to know these are just movies.
“I don’t have a problem with (Hollywood) setting explosions and injuries in New York,” Koch says.