With critically acclaimed films like Arrival and Star Trek Beyond behind us, 2016 is shaping up to be another strong year for science fiction. Yet, one of the year’s most anticipated films within the genre still hasn’t hit theaters. Passengers stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as a pair aboard a spacecraft on a 120-year-long journey to another planet. However, the two find themselves unexpectedly awake decades earlier than planned and stranded on the ship alone, where they begin to fall in love.
The premise behind the film may be ripe with possibility, but no doubt the real draw for audiences will be the chance to see the stars of The Hunger Games and Guardians of the Galaxy, respectively, share the screen for the first time. After all, both Lawrence and Pratt have long charmed moviegoers with their distinctive sense of humor and versatile talent. Although this holiday season is bound to be a busy one in theaters, we can’t imagine that Passengers won’t manage to find an audience. Here’s what we know about the film so far.
It comes from the Oscar-nominated director of The Imitation Game
Even if Passengers doesn’t feature a particularly action-heavy setup, moviegoers should be heartened to know that its character-driven story is being guided to life by director Morten Tyldum. The Norwegian filmmaker is known primarily for his last film, 2014 drama The Imitation Game, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. That film, of course, stars Benedict Cumberbatch as pioneering cryptanalyst Alan Turing. We can only hope that Tyldum’s knack for capturing personal stories amid a larger narrative canvas — World War II in The Imitation Game, the vastness of space in Passengers — translates with his latest release.
Stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are alone for much of the runtime
More than likely, casual moviegoers will be giving Passengers a shot not for its Oscar-nominated director or intriguing premise but for the famous faces on its poster. So at least the film is resisting the urge to distract from Lawrence and Pratt’s undeniable star power with too many new faces or a role for Lawrence’s frequent co-star Bradley Cooper. Thanks to the trailer, we already know that Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, and Andy Garcia all make appearances at some point, but with the isolation inherent in Passengers‘ story, it’s looking likely that the two stars will be carrying the film on their own for most of the runtime.
Jon Spaihts’s script circulated for years after making The Black List
For years, the script for Passengers circulated throughout the industry before finally hopping aboard the road to production. Nevertheless, screenwriter Jon Spaihts — who previously worked on Prometheus and Doctor Strange — saw his script make it on to The Black List, the annual ranking of Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplays, in 2007. Many high-profile and award-winning films — including Argo, Slumdog Millionaire, Juno, Spotlight, and The Revenant — have populated the list over the years, boding well for Passengers‘ future at the box office and beyond.
The film cost between $120 million and $150 million to make
Despite a story that really only focuses on a pair of space-bound individuals (similar to the 2013 hit Gravity in that respect), Passengers still reportedly cost somewhere between $120 and $150 million based on reports. The film’s space setting will account for the lion’s share of that total, though it remains to be seen how prominent a role visual effects will wind up playing in the final film. Regardless, this number has become pretty commonplace among major studio releases, and we’re betting that Passengers features just as many high-octane thrills as it does intense character moments.
It hopes to capitalize on the current boon to grounded blockbuster sci-fi
In the past few years, ambitious original (i.e., non-franchise) science fiction films have managed to conquer the box office. Hits like Gravity, Interstellear, The Martian, and Arrival have proven that audiences are hungry for a thought-provoking exploration of time and space. Passengers clearly hopes to achieve similar success by tapping into these very same themes while infusing a romance into the unlikeliest of settings. Here’s hoping that Tyldum’s film manages to keep the genre going strong with imagination and character-based drama that inspires as much as it entertains.
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