The Manhattan Project (1986) Poster


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The film was part of a 1980s cycle of films about atomic bombs and nuclear warfare which had started in 1979 with The China Syndrome (1979). The films included Silkwood (1983), Testament (1983), Threads (1984), WarGames (1983), The Day After (1983), The Atomic Cafe (1982), The Manhattan Project (1986), Whoops Apocalypse (1982), Special Bulletin (1983), Ground Zero (1987), Barefoot Gen (Barefoot Gen (1983)), Rules of Engagement (1989), When the Wind Blows (1986), Letters from a Dead Man (Pisma myortvogo cheloveka (1986)), Memoirs of a Survivor (1981) and The Chain Reaction (1980).
Dr. Matthewson's line, "fellow sons of bitches," is a reference to original Manhattan Project scientist Kenneth Bainbridge. Following the first successful test explosion of an atomic bomb on July 16, 1945, Bainbridge said to fellow project scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, "Now we are all sons of bitches."
Several technicians are seen wearing shirts reading "Cayuga" on the back. Cayuga Productions was the name of Rod Serling's company that produced Twilight Zone (1959).
Paul's science class nemeses Roland invented the Internet as his science fair project. This movie was made 10 years before the Internet reach widespread public notoriety.
The science projects and kids in the background of the science fair scenes were actual NYC middle school students with real science projects which were submitted to the NYC borough-wide science fair. These scenes were filmed over a three day period at the Penta Hotel in NYC on 33rd St.
Early in the film Paul sees his mom is reading a book which she describes as just another novel. Later in the film when the helicopter arrives over the house, the camera shows the book is by Frederick Forsyth, and the title is "the fourth protocol", a fiction book which involves a compact nuclear weapon, which was also made into a film released in 1987.
The main theme of the score is, fittingly, based on the Christmas carol "The First Noel".
The High School used in the movie was actually not in Ithaca New York. The High School is Suffern High School in Suffern New York.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

At the very end when they stop the countdown, the timer reads 7:16:45. July 16, 1945 was the date of the Trinity test where the first Atomic bomb was detonated in New Mexico.

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