Supernova (2000 film)

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This article is about the 2000 film. For the 2005 made-for-television film, see Supernova (2005 film). For the 2009 direct-to-video film, see 2012: Supernova.
Supernova ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Walter Hill
Produced by Ash R. Shaw
Daniel Chuba
Jamie Dixon
Screenplay by David C. Wilson
Story by William Malone
Daniel Chuba
Starring James Spader
Angela Bassett
Peter Facinelli
Lou Diamond Phillips
Robin Tunney
Robert Forster
Wilson Cruz
Music by David C. Williams
Cinematography Lloyd Ahern II
Edited by Michael Schweiter
Melissa Kent
Francis Ford Coppola
Freeman A. Davies
Screenland Pictures
Hammerhead Productions
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • January 14, 2000 (2000-01-14)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $90 million[1] or $60 million[2]
Box office $14,828,081[1]
905 admissions (France)[3]

Supernova is a 2000 science fiction horror film, from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film was written by David C. Wilson, William Malone and Daniel Chuba and directed by Walter Hill, credited as "Thomas Lee."[4] "Thomas Lee" was chosen as a directorial pseudonym for release, as the name Alan Smithee had become too well known as a badge of a film being disowned by its makers.

Originally developed in 1988 by director William Malone as "Dead Star" with paintings by H. R. Giger and a plot that had been called "Hellraiser in outer space." Jack Sholder was hired for substantial uncredited reshoots, and Francis Ford Coppola brought in for editing purposes.[citation needed] Various sources[who?] suggest that little of Hill's work remains in the theatrical cut of the film. The film shares several plot similarities with the film Event Horizon released in 1997 and Alien Cargo released in 1999.

The cast featured James Spader, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Lou Diamond Phillips, Peter Facinelli, Robin Tunney, and Wilson Cruz. This film was shot by cinematographer Lloyd Ahern and scored by composers David C. Williams and Burkhard Dallwitz.


Supernova chronicles the search and rescue patrol of a medical ship in deep space in the early 22nd century and its six-member crew which includes captain and pilot A.J. Marley (Robert Forster), co-pilot Nick Vanzant (James Spader), medical officer Kaela Evers (Angela Bassett), medical technician Yerzy Penalosa (Lou Diamond Phillips), search and rescue paramedic Danika Lund (Robin Tunney), and computer technician Benjamin Sotomejor (Wilson Cruz). Aboard their vessel, the Nightingale 229, they receive an emergency distress signal coming from an ice mining operation on the moon Titan 37, over 3000 light years away.

The crew answers the call and "dimension jumps," – during which Captain Marley suffers fatal injuries due to a malfunction of the ship '​s equipment – arriving in the path of Titan 37's debris cloud, some of which damages the ship and causes the loss of 82% of its maneuvering fuel. Worse still, Titan 37 orbits a blue giant, and its high gravity field will pull the ship to the point where it will be incinerated in 17 hours, 12 minutes - which happens to be almost the same amount of time that the Nightingale 229 will need to recharge its jump drive, their only possible hope for escape. With only an 11-minute window for escape, the surviving crew soon find themselves in danger from the disturbing young man (Peter Facinelli) they rescue, and the mysterious alien artifact he has smuggled aboard. This artifact is analyzed by the ship's computer and is said to contain "ninth dimensional matter."

It is ultimately discovered that the young man who called for rescue is actually "Karl Larson", an old former lover of Kaela's (it is implied they had an abusive relationship). Karl came into contact with the ninth dimensional matter after recovering the artifact, and it somehow enabled him to acquire super strength, supernatural healing abilities, and made him younger (such that Kaela did not recognize him). Karl murders most of the crew except Kaela, and strands Nick on the mining platform. Karl unsuccessfully attempts to romantically reconcile with Kaela. Nick finds his way back to the medical ship through a rescue pod left on the mining platform, and a battle ensues between Nick and Karl. Karl is ultimately killed using explosives placed near the alien artifact which Karl was obsessed with retrieving. The explosion ejects the artifact into space, hurtling it towards the blue giant.

With moments left before the "dimension jump" activates, Kaela and Nick place themselves into the only remaining "dimensional stabilization chamber" (Karl had destroyed all but one) which is the only thing that enables human beings to survive the ship's dimensional jump drive. The pods are only meant to hold one person, however – two subjects might be genetically mixed during the dimensional jump. Before Nick and Kaela enter the only remaining pod, the computer warns them that the 9th dimensional matter is reacting with the gravity of the blue giant sun and will cause a 9th dimensional reaction that will spread in all directions, such that the reaction's resulting supernova will reach Earth within 51 years. The computer hypothesizes that the reaction will either destroy life on Earth or "enable humankind to achieve a new level of existence". Just before the blue giant supernovas, the ship engages in a dimensional jump which brings Nick and Kaela back to Earth. As a result of their being in the same pod, the two of them each have one eye of the other person's original eye color. The ship's computer also reveals that Kaela is pregnant, which may be the result of them being in the pod together during the jump, or the result of them having sex hours earlier.




The film was originally pitched by Thomas Malone in 1990 as Dead Star. Malone envisioned it as a modestly budgeted film which would cost around $5–6 million and be like "Dead Calm in space".[2]

The original script was about a space expedition that discovers artefacts from an alien civilisation and brings them back to Earth; one of the artefacts unleashes an evil force. Malone and producer Ash R Shah asked H.R. Giger to produce some conceptual sketches to help promote the script.[2]

MGM bought the project and a series of writers were put on the script included David Campbell Wilson, Daniel Chuba, Cathy Rabin and Thomas Wheeler. By 1997 the story had changed to be about a deep space medical ship called the Nova which answers a distress signal and finds an aging cargo vessel about to be sucked into a black hole. The sole survivor of the sinking ship comes on board the Nova.

Australian Geoffrey Wright was originally attached to direct but left the project.[5] He was replaced by Jack Sholder but then the studio replaced him with Walter Hill. Hill says he "was interested in doing a science fiction thing", he thought the script "had fixable problems" and he wanted to work with James Spader.[6]

Hill says problems began when he did a rewrite of the script, not knowing that the president of United Artists was very attached to the script. He says the budget of the film was cut halfway through production.[6]


Shooting began in April 1998. MGM refused the number of effects shots requested by Hill including a zero gravity rescue, and a remotely operated medical robot was replaced by a humanoid android.[2] Hill would later remark:

We limped in, in post we had a tremendous amount of effect stuff to do. They decided they wanted to preview the movie without the effects. I said this was insane, it's a science fiction movie. The effects had to be added. They wanted to see how it played. I told them it would be like shit, terrible, very bad preview, you will give up on the movie. These previews under these conditions are political. "Are you saying you won't preview the movie?" I said "You own the God damn thing. If you want to preview it, I can't prevent you, but I won't go." They saw this as defiance.[6]

Taking these into consideration, Hill quit the project. Test screenings went badly and MGM hired Sholder to re-edit Hill's footage. After another cut tested badly, the studio went back to Hill, who proposed $5 million of reshoots. When he was refused, Hill quit the project for good.

MGM board member Francis Ford Coppola then supervised an edit costing $1 million. This cut tested poorly with audiences as well and did not secure the anticipated PG-13 rating so the film was re-edited again. The movie was eventually released on January 17, 2000, almost two years later than planned.[2]


"Supernova" was panned by critics and holds a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 61 reviews, with the consensus: "This is an insult to the Sci-fi genre with no excitement and bad FX."[7] New York Times reviewer Lawrence Van Gelder called it "light on originality and low on suspense though high on design and special effects."[8] On Metacritic, which uses an average of critics' reviews, the film holds a 19/100, indicating "overwhelming dislike".[9]

Box office[edit]

The film was a box office bomb, opening with a $5,778,639 in its opening weekend;[10] by the end of its run, the film grossed only $14,828,081 worldwide on a $90 million budget.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Supernova (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Lights,camera... new director Harrison, Genevieve. The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 16 June 2000: B8.
  3. ^ Box office figures for Walter Hill films in France at Box Office Story
  4. ^ Supernova at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ MEGAPHONE The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 14 Mar 1998: C18.
  6. ^ a b c "Interview with Walter Hill Chapter 8" Directors Guild of America, § 13:40–17:45, accessed 18 Jan 2015
  7. ^ Supernova at Rotten Tomatoes
  8. ^ Lawrence van Gelder (January 15, 2000). "Supernova (2000)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  9. ^ Supernova at Metacritic
  10. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for January 14–16, 2000". Box Office Mojo. 2000-01-17. Retrieved 2011-10-01. 

External links[edit]