To say Sony Pictures is in a slump is an understatement. The crippling hack last year, the failure of Chappie, Aloha and Paul Blart 2 to connect with audiences and the overall executive disarray have exposed the Hollywood heavyweight.
Enter Passengers, a sci-fi space romance with a big budget. You’re thinking, what the hell is Sony doing? But, it’s mitigating the big budget risk by signing the two biggest box office draws in Hollywood. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.
Both have billion dollar franchises under their belt and an insane amount of public appeal. Toss in the director of The Imitation Game and you can fuse critical success with box office success. At least, that’s the hope.
While box office landscape is littered with sequels, prequels and reboots, moviegoers have shown a penchant for movies set in space. Two immediately spring to mind. Gravity and Interstellar.
Both one-off movies that rode their star power both in front of and behind the camera to box office and critical success. You’re not going to see sequels popping up to either film, yet both clearly won the hearts of the average fan and critic.
What about Passengers? Here’s a brief synopsis of the film:
A spacecraft is transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet that has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he eventually decides to wake up a second passenger.
There’s no release date on it, but I’d imagine 2017(ish) for a release. Big budget could either mean summer tentpole or letting it open for the Holidays. Sony does have help coming in 2015 from the new Bond film, Spectre. Also, the Meryl Streep film Ricki and the Flash is sure to be a critical darling. Does Meryl Streep even have a bad movie?
Chris Pratt has the biggest opening weekend under his belt with Jurassic World. Toss in the over-performing Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie and he has become box office gold. Jennifer Lawrence has The Hunger Games, X-Men and an Oscar to put on her mantle.
Fans are going to want to see the chemistry the two bring to the screen. I’m a sucker for anything set in space, so count me in. As for Sony Pictures? The company can’t turn away from a risky property at this point. It’s getting lapped by Universal and Disney. Getting Lawrence and Pratt onboard helps offset any risk of what will be an outsized budget.