K-19: The Widowmaker

Produced by National Geographic and Intermedia and distributed by Paramount 2002, budget of $100 million, gross of $60 million, color 35mm negative, 2.35:1 screen ratio, digital sound, 138 mins., DVD released 2002.

Juliett 484 diesel sub from 1968 used in the film
Hotel class sub 1960




This film is based on the true story of the Hotel-class K-19 submarine, the first Russian nuclear-powered ballistic missile sub, commissioned Nov. 12, 1960, with a crew of 139 and carrying three nuclear missiles, but suffering a radiation accident that killed 22 crewmen on June 4, 1961, in a North Atlantic training exercise. The decision to make the film was announced Oct. 15, 2000, shortly after the Aug. 12 Kursk accident, and the Apr. 21 release of the U-571 film. Location filming began Feb. 19, 2001 in Moscow, then moved to Toronto Mar. 12, then to Halifax in June for filming of the Juliett 484 diesel sub from 1968 made to look like the 1960 Hotel-class K-19. Filming was complete by July 18. The real survivors of the K-19, some of whom appear in the final graveyard scene with Harrison Ford, protested in Moscow how the film portrayed the crew as drunk from vodka and incompetent when the alarms began. In fact, drinking was prohibited on all Russian subs, and there was no conspiracy of crew led by Vladimir Yenin against Captain Zateyev.


revised 4/10/06 by Steven Schoenherr at the University of San Diego | Filmnotes