Hollywood studio Sony looks set to move forward with a rare big budget original project after greenlighting the space romance Passengers, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The high-risk $150m project is moving into pre-production at a time when studios are increasingly reluctant to finance films which do not have a pre-existing fanbase, especially those of a science fiction bent. The past few months alone have seen the box office failure of Disney’s Tomorrowland and the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending, despite the presence of A-listers such as George Clooney, Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis on the cast lists.
In Lawrence and Pratt, Passengers boasts two of the hottest names in Hollywood, and Sony will have to pay through the nose for them. The Hollywood Reporter claims the studio has agreed to pay Lawrence her asking price of $20m, while Pratt will get $12m (up from $10m) in the wake of Jurassic World’s all-time record-breaking $511m global opening at the weekend.
Sony will hope Passengers can ape the success of recent space dramas like Interstellar and Gravity, especially if the romance can repeat the achievements of Alfonso Cuaron’s film and break into the Oscars reckoning. Hence, the presence of the Oscar-nominated Norwegian director of The Imitation Game, Morten Tyldum, in charge of the cameras. Without such critical acclaim the film would be unlikely to make money based on the presence of Lawrence and Pratt alone.
Passengers centres on a space traveller on a voyage to a distant planet taking place many years in the future who unexpectedly awakens from cryogenic sleep almost a century too early. Bereft of company, he decides to awaken a female fellow passenger, leading to an unexpected romance. Tyldum aims to shoot in September.
by Ben Child