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For the game based on the film, see Pandorum (video game).
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Christian Alvart
Produced by Robert Kulzer
Jeremy Bolt
Paul W. S. Anderson
Screenplay by Travis Milloy
Story by Travis Milloy
Christian Alvart
Starring Dennis Quaid
Ben Foster
Cam Gigandet
Antje Traue
Cung Le
Eddie Rouse
Music by Michl Britsch
Cinematography Wedigo von Schultzendorff
Edited by Philipp Stahl
Yvonne Valdez
Constantin Film
Impact Pictures
Distributed by Overture Films (USA)
Constantin Film (Germany/Austria)
Icon Productions (UK/Australia)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (international sales)
M6 (France)
Release dates
  • September 25, 2009 (2009-09-25) (United States)
  • October 2, 2009 (2009-10-02) (United Kingdom)
Running time 108 minutes[1]
Country Germany
United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget US$33 million
Box office $20,645,327[2]

Pandorum is a German-United States 2009 post-apocalyptic science fiction film, with elements of locked room mystery, horror, and survival adventure. The film was directed by Christian Alvart and produced by Robert Kulzer, Jeremy Bolt and Paul W.S. Anderson. Travis Milloy wrote the screenplay from a story by Milloy and Alvart. It stars Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. Filming began in Berlin in August 2008. Pandorum was released on September 25, 2009 in the United States,[3] and on October 2, 2009 in the UK.

The film's title is a nickname of a fictional psychosis called "Orbital Dysfunctional Syndrome" (ODS for short) caused by deep space and triggered by emotional stress leading to severe paranoia and delirium. The film received mixed to negative reviews.


In 2174, the human population has grown to the point of exceeding the carry capacity of Earth, causing humanity to build a sleeper ship/interstellar ark named Elysium. The mission is to send 60,000 people on a 123-year trip to an Earth-like planet named Tanis to establish civilization there. Eight years into the mission the ship receives a transmission from Earth in multiple languages including English: "You're all that's left of us. Good luck, God bless, and godspeed." Some time later two astronauts of the flight crew, an altruistic claustrophobe named Corporal Bower and his level headed Lieutenant named Payton, have awakened in a hyper-sleep chamber by power surges aboard. Due to being under general anesthesia during hyper-sleep for eight years, they are both experiencing drug-induced amnesia. Bower ventures deep into the now seemingly abandoned ship to jump-start the reactor to take control of the ship before it dies, along with everyone on board. He remembers how he was inspired by the flight since childhood and has flashbacks of his wife whom he wants to find in the ship. He is suffering from the early stages of Pandorum after having a claustrophobic panic attack.

Bower encounters pale-skinned tribal warrior hunters possessing a heightened sense of smell and strength. They practice both endocannibalism and exocannibalism, hanging humans from ropes and cutting their stomachs open. He also meets two members who have become egocentric lone wolf survivalists because they believe the flight crew to be dead and thus resorted to survival-of-fittest tactics. One of them is a former geneticist of an institute in Brandenburg who has survived for months by attacking and stealing from other humans. She is initially cynical and hostile towards Bower but later warms up to him after he saves her life from the other survivor, an old cook who survived for years by eating both hunters and humans along with the algae covering the ship. Named Nadia and Leland respectively, the survivors join him when they realize that Bower can fix and fly the ship. Bower also finds an ally in Manh, a selfless and persistent Vietnamese-speaking agriculturist who saves him several times.

Meanwhile, Payton encounters a strange young man named Corporal Gallo who emerges nude and filthy from the interior of the ship. Gallo claims he had to kill his team in self-defense because they developed Pandorum as Earth mysteriously vanished on their way to Tanis and the ship became lost in space. The aftermath is depicted in drawings on the walls of Leland's lair, and he explains the origin of the hunters and their cannibalistic behavior based on what he heard from others. Gallo had developed Pandorum and apparently others he awake from hypersleep succumbed to it. As depicted in drawings of him and others with electric sparks around their heads along with blood dripping from noses.

He then psychologically manipulated the other psychotics into exiling themselves on the ship to play a nasty game which involved fighting, capturing, torturing and eating each other. Eventually Gallo went back into hyper-sleep, leaving the Elysium to become a generation ship. It is hinted that the hunters are the descendants of the psychotic cannibals who have evolved over the course of successive generations into a troglofaunal species and are apparently continuing the game Gallo started with their ancestors. This was due to an enzyme given to the members through their feeding tubes in hyper-sleep that was supposed to both help their bodies adjust to the conditions on Tanis and speed up evolutionary ecological selection. Instead, they ending up adapting to the completely artificial conditions of the ship's environment.

It is also revealed that Bower's wife left him, so he signed on to the mission to find a place in history as he had nothing left. His wife, however, remained on Earth and vanished along with it, and this causes him to grieve to the point of giving up. Out of empathy, Nadia gives emotional support to help him remain optimistic and motivated, saying that his wife actually saved his life by leaving him, and that humanity was meant to survive. This helps him to move on but he remembers something about Payton. When the group finally reach the reactor, Manh distracts the cannibals in order for Bower to jump start the reactor. Manh is cornered by their leader but refuses to die without a fight so the creature gives him a weapon to defend himself, which leads to a one-sided battle in the monster's favor. However, the creature's arrogance leads to Mahn managing to kill it; he is killed, however, when he hesitates to slay a mutant child.

The remaining three crew members head to the control room to gain control of the ship from Gallo and Payton. There it is revealed that Payton is not really who he thinks he is and that Gallo is Payton's hallucination of his younger self. Gallo proceeds to kill Leland when he arrives before the others, and he is then confronted by Bower and Nadia. Bower remembers what the real Payton looks like and knows he is not his lieutenant. However, the ship is apparently lost somewhere in space where there are no stars and the cannibals are closing in on them, this causes Bower to have another panic attack in which the final stages of Pandorum take effect.

Gallo then attempts to manipulate him as he did with others who succumbed to the psychosis. He tries to convert him to anarcho-egoism and anarcho-primitivism views. He says that they should create a new world in a wild primitive state with the ship to replace human civilization because its moralistic altruism led to the overpopulation crisis on Earth and, referring back to the mutants, that they should therefore embrace predation among themselves. It is then revealed that Gallo's hallulation lied about the ship being lost and has actually reached Tanis, settling under water, and 923 years have passed since the mission started. Gallo attacks Bower and Nadia tries to defend him. In his delirium, Bower breaks the hull's window, flooding the ship. Nadia manages to snap Bower out his condition, and they get themselves into his hibernation pod. The flood triggers a hull breach emergency which automatically ejects the active pods to the surface while Gallo and the cannibals drown. This begins Year One on Tanis with a population of 1,213.



The film began life as a preliminary script written by Travis Milloy in the late-1990s. The story was originally set on a prison ship named Pandorum, transporting thousands of Earth's deadliest prisoners to another planet; the cannibal hunters were the end result of the prisoners' degeneration. The characters played by Antje Traue and Cung Le were inmates. Ben Foster's character was a non-prisoner who did not trust anyone.

Believing no studio would want to make the film, Milloy thought about making it as a low-budget film shot on video in an abandoned paper mill with unknown actors. However, it attracted the attention of filmmaker Paul W. S. Anderson and Jeremy Bolt, and they gave it to Impact Pictures, who green-lit it. The producers gave the script to director Christian Alvart who was struck by the similarities to his own screenplay titled No Where. His dramatic story was about four astronauts aboard a settlers' ship who suffer from amnesia. Alvart decided that they should weld the two screenplays together, and the producers and Milloy agreed. With the ship now changed to a settler's ship, the use of the word "Pandorum" was changed from the name of the ship to a type of mental illness caused by sustained deep space travel.

Pandorum was announced in May 2008 with Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster in lead roles. Christian Alvart was attached to direct the film, based on a script by Travis Milloy. The movie was financed by Constantin Film through a joint venture deal with subsidiary Impact Pictures.[4] The partnership helped fund the $40 million production. Constantin drew subsidies from Germany's Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg (MBB) regional film fund, the German Federal Film Board (FFA) and the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF). The German Federal Film Fund provided $6 million to the production, the fund's second-largest 2008 payout after $7.5 million for Ninja Assassin.[5][6] Filming took place at Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam in August 2008.[4][5]

Release, director's cut, and sequel[edit]

Ben Foster, Cung Le and Antje Traue talk about Pandorum at a panel discussion at WonderCon 2009.

Summit Entertainment handled foreign sales and presented Pandorum to buyers at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival due to a deal with Contender Films in the UK, so instead Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures took over and handled foreign sales to the film.[4] Overture Films distributed Pandorum in North America, Icon in the United Kingdom and Australia, Svensk in Scandinavia, and Movie Eye in Japan. The film was set up as a possible franchise, so that if it performed well, Impact Pictures could green-light one or more sequels.[5]

The DVD and Blu-ray Disc release occurred on January 19, 2010 in the United States[7] over Anchor Bay Entertainment.[8]

The director and producer commentaries on the DVD indicate that an unrated version of the movie exists but has not been released.

In 2010 fans started a Facebook group – 500,000 to get Pandorum sequel – To help reassure the producers to make sure a sequel comes out. Director Christian Alvart later became a member of the group.[9]


Pandorum mostly gained average or subpar reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports the film holding 28% positive reviews out of 81, with the site rating it 4.2/10.[10] The site's consensus is that "While it might prove somewhat satisfying for devout sci-fi fans, Pandorum's bloated, derivative plot ultimately leaves it drifting in space".[10]

At Metacritic, which judges on a 0–100 scale, the film holds a "generally unfavorable" score of 28 based on 13 reviews.[11] Science fiction magazine SFX was more positive, stating that "Pandorum is the finest interstellar horror in years", and awarding the film 4 stars out of 5.[12] Film Ireland also gave Pandorum a positive review, appreciating the film's synergy of cinematic techniques, set design, and developed characters.[13]

The film grossed $20,645,327 worldwide, therefore failing to bring back its $33 million budget.[2] The film opened at #6 at the US box office with weekend receipts totaling $4,424,126.


Soundtrack album by Michl Britsch
Released September 25, 2009
Recorded 2009
Genre Electronic
Length 71:06
Label Königskinder Schallplatten GmbH
Producer Michl Britsch

Track listing

  1. "All That Is Left of Us" (2:43)
  2. "Pandorum" (3:58)
  3. "Anti Riot" (4:17)
  4. "Shape" (2:03)
  5. "Hunting Party" (2:48)
  6. "Kulzer Complex" (4:40)
  7. "Tanis Probe Broadcast" (2:01)
  8. "Scars" (2:20)
  9. "Fucking Solidarity" (3:28)
  10. "Gallo's Birth" (2:22)
  11. "Biolab Attack" (2:25)
  12. "Kanyrna" (3:22)
  13. "The Stars All Look Alike" (4:32)
  14. "Boom" (3:55)
  15. "Reactor" (4:08)
  16. "Skin on Skin" (3:21)
  17. "Fight Fight Fight" (2:56)
  18. "Bower's Trip" (7:51)
  19. "Discovery / End Credits" (7:55)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ PANDORUM rated 15 by the BBFC
  2. ^ a b "Pandorum". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  3. ^ "Pandorum". Coming Soon Media, L.P. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  4. ^ a b c McNary, Dave (May 8, 2008). "Quaid, Foster set for 'Pandorum'". Variety. Retrieved August 8, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c Roxborough, Scott (November 7, 2008). "Impact finds $40 mil to make 'Pandorum'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 1, 2008. 
  6. ^ Koehl, Christian (August 5, 2008). "'Pandorum' secures German funds". Variety. Retrieved August 8, 2008. 
  7. ^ The official Pandorum movie site
  8. ^ "First Word on Pandorum Home Video Release". 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b Pandorum at Rotten Tomatoes
  11. ^ "Pandorum". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  12. ^ FILM REVIEW: Pandorum | SFX
  13. ^ McGlynn, Jack (October 29, 2009). "Pandorum Review". Film Ireland. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 

External links[edit]