Just as it has been for centuries of immigrants and desperately lost, subway map-reading tourists, New York City is a favorite destination for angry, carnage-minded mutants, monsters and aliens -- though they intend to destroy the city's landmarks, not capture them in Instagram photos.
The latest invaders are the Chitauri, the shape-shifting aliens that descend upon Manhattan in the climactic battle in The Avengers. And, with their starships and smaller, strikingly Kawasaki jetski-like racers, they certainly succeed in wreaking havoc on the city. To walk out of a screening of the movie into the light of Park Avenue is a shock, with its clean streets and un-dented skyline, so to get a sense of just how much damage the Chitauri would have caused had the film been real life, The Hollywood Reporter reached out to Kinetic Analysis Corporation (KAC), one of the leading disaster cost prediction and assessment firms in the nation.
In an exclusive report for THR, KAC, led by Chuck Watson and Sarah Jupin, used computer models used for predicting the destruction of nuclear weapons -- and predicting similarly fictional damage in Japan from attacks by Godzilla and his monster crew -- and concluded that the physical damage of the invastion would be $60-70 billion, with economic and cleanup costs hitting $90 billion. Add on the loss of thousands of lives, and KAC puts the overall price tag at $160 billion.
For context, the terrorist attacks of September 11 cost $83 billion, Hurricane Katrina cost $90 billion and the tsunami in Japan last year washed away $122 billion in damage.
Although many buildings in the fight's East Midtown arena suffered extensive structural damage, most were limited to the more superficial destruction of windows, facade and some interiors. Those buildings that had their tops crushed, though, would be especially costly and timely to fix, as would be Grand Central Station, through which a warship crashed.
"The extensive damage to Grand Central Terminal could prove highly disruptive,depending on the sub-surface damage to the subway system," KAC notes. "Although such damage is unlikely, as the 9/11 events showed, collapsing buildings can cause significant damage to sub-surface infrastructure such as gas, communications, and electrical systems. Detailed site surveys will be required to assess the state of the subterranean infrastructure."
KAC also predicts that liability will be a major issue. Who, exactly, will have to pay for the damage? S.H.I.E.L.D., they note, is likely protected as a government agency, though probes will eventually look into its role in predicting, preventing and responding to the invasion -- just as they looked into the Ghostbusters.
"Most insurance policies have special provisions for acts of war, civil unrest, or terrorism," KAC adds. "Given the involvement of individuals considered deities in some cultures (Thor, Loki), there is even the potential to classify the event as an 'Act of God,' although that designation would be subject to strenuous theological and legal debate."
Watson said he was actually surprised by a lower-than-expected total. In an email to THR he said, "Compared to the aliens in Independence Day, for example, these guys were amateurs. Of course, the Chitauri/Loki alliance were more interested in conquest and ruling whereas the ID aliens were just looking for lunch or something."
Still, with a $700 million two week gross to protect, Marvel and Disney are lucky all the damage happened on screen.
Email: Jordan.Zakarin@THR.com; Twitter: @JordanZakarin