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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 date
  • 25 September 2009 (2009-09-25) (United States)
  • 2 October 2009 (2009-10-02) (United Kingdom)
Running time
108 minutes[1]
Country Germany
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $33 million
Box office $20,645,327[2]

Pandorum is a German-British 2009 science fiction horror film, with elements of Lovecraftian 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 25 September 2009 in the United States,[3] and on 2 October 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, delirium, and nosebleeding. The film received mixed to negative reviews, but has gained a cult following over time.


In 2174, the human population has exceeded the carrying capacity of Earth, leading humanity to build a huge interstellar ark named Elysium. Its mission is to send 60,000 people on a 123-year trip to establish a colony on an Earth-like planet named Tanis. The passengers and crew are placed in hypersleep, with a rotating crew who awake for shifts of two years each maintaining the ship throughout the journey. Eight years into the mission the ship receives a transmission from Earth in multiple languages: "You're all that's left of us. Good luck, God bless, and godspeed."

Some unknown time later, two members of the flight crew, Corporal Bower and Lieutenant Payton, are awakened from hypersleep. Improper emergence from the hibernatory state leaves them both with partial amnesia. The ship is experiencing power surges caused by an unstable nuclear reactor, which leaves them unable to enter the bridge, although they have steady power in their quarters. Bower ventures into the seemingly abandoned ship using the ventilation system with the intention of stabilising the reactor in case it goes critical. After suffering panic attacks from his claustrophobia he begins to suffer symptoms of "Orbital Dysfunction Syndrome", nicknamed "Pandorum", a severe psychotic illness known to appear in deep-space travellers causing delusions, paranoia, hallucinations and violence. It is known to have been the cause of the disastrous "'Eden' mission," in which the captain of a large starship called Eden became so afflicted with Pandorum that he became convinced that the flight was cursed and ejected his entire crew of 5,000 to their deaths.

Bower encounters Nadia, a former geneticist and Manh, an agriculturist, and they are attacked by a group of cannibalistic pale-skinned humanoids with heightened senses of smell and strength and a seemingly tribal culture. Bower's group flees into a barricaded chamber and finds a cook named Leland, who has been awake for years, living off the water leaking into the ship, the algae it creates, and resorting to cannibalism. Meanwhile, Payton encounters a strange young man named Corporal Gallo, who claims that the ship is lost in space and that he had to kill his rotation team in self-defense because they developed Pandorum after finding out that Earth mysteriously vanished.

The creatures are initially assumed to be transformed passengers, but Leland invites Bower's team to dinner and shows them mural drawings depicting their true origin. According to Leland, early in the mission Gallo developed Pandorum, as did the many passengers that he then brought out of hypersleep early. Taking advantage of their mental state, Gallo then convinced these insane passengers to exile themselves to the ship's enormous cargo hold to play a cruel cat-and-mouse game of survival which involved fighting, capturing, torturing, and eating each other. Eventually Gallo went back into hypersleep, leaving the descendants of the psychotics to evolve over the course of successive generations (accelerated by an enzyme produced in the hypersleep pod's feeding tubes), becoming a troglofauna species that now roams the ship, with Gallo's savage game becoming the centre of the mutated humans' culture.

Bower hopes to find his wife on the ship before the creatures do, but later his memories come back to him and he remembers that the woman he is looking for divorced him and stayed on Earth, disappearing along with the rest of the planet. This revelation almost makes him give up on the mission and helps push him closer to insanity.

When Bower's group finds the reactor, they also find that it is the lair for a large community of the humanoids. Bower fails to make a stealthy approach, and Manh acts as a distraction while Bower restarts the reactor, killing most of the humanoids. Leland flees, and Manh is cornered by their leader, who challenges him to single combat. He defeats the leader, but then is killed when he hesitates to slay a humanoid child afterwards.

With the power restored, Payton can finally access the bridge, but Gallo assaults him to prevent him going. Gallo injects Payton with a sedative, but suddenly disappears, leaving Payton holding the syringe in his own hand. It is revealed that "Payton" was hallucinating his younger self and that he is in fact Gallo. Gallo opens the shutters on the bridge's windows, revealing that the ship is apparently adrift in deep space with no stars visible. The revelation is the final stress that causes Bower to slip fully into Pandorum. Gallo takes advantage of Bower's mental state and tries to convince him that they must maintain the violent society that has developed on the ship rather than attempt to revive civilization, since that is what led to the overpopulation of Earth.

However, what Gallo's hallucination said about the ship being lost in space was a red herring. Nadia observes bioluminescent ocean life through the windows, and the computer displays that 923 years have elapsed since the mission launched - 800 of which the ship has spent stationary and underwater after arriving at Tanis and automatically landing itself in the ocean. Gallo attacks Bower and Nadia, and Bower suddenly hallucinates humanoids invading the bridge. In his delirium, Bower smashes a window and water pours into the ship, drowning Gallo and all the remaining humanoids. Nadia manages to snap Bower to reality, and they climb into a hypersleep pod. The flood triggers a hull breach emergency-system which automatically ejects all active pods (theirs as well as those of surviving colonists) to the surface.

Bower and Nadia surface near a lush coastline, and witness the other pods ascending one by one. Thus begins Year One on Tanis, with 1,213 survivors from the original 60,000 humans.



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 meld 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.[4]

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.[5] 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 (de) (FFA) and the German Federal Film Fund (de) (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.[6][7] Filming took place at Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam in August 2008.[5][6]

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, but due to a deal with Contender Films in the UK, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures took over and handled foreign sales to the film.[5] 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. According to Travis Milloy, it was to have a sequel and a prequel.[4] If it performed well, Impact Pictures could green-light one or more sequels.[6]

The DVD and Blu-ray Disc release occurred on 19 January 2010 in the United States[8] over Anchor Bay Entertainment.[9]

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

The film had gained a cult following, as in 2010 fans started a Facebook group, with users urging a Pandorum sequel. Director Christian Alvart later became a member of the group. The group currently has over 3,700 members.[10]


Pandorum gained mixed reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports the film holding 28% positive reviews out of 81, with the site rating it 4.2/10.[11] 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".[11]

At Metacritic, which judges on a 0–100 scale, the film holds a "generally unfavorable" score of 28 based on 13 reviews.[12] 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.[13] Film Ireland also gave Pandorum a positive review, appreciating the film's synergy of cinematic techniques, set design, and developed characters.[14]

The film grossed $20,645,327 worldwide, 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. This is most likely due to a lack of advertisement: the Facebook fanpage mentioned above states that most of its members only learned about the film through Netflix or late night television. The lack of promotion was likely due to Overture Films lacking the budget, as the studio went bankrupt several months later.[15]


Pandorum OST.jpg
Soundtrack album by Michl Britsch
Released 25 September 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. ^ Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b "Pandorum (2009)". Box Office Mojo. 19 November 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  3. ^ "Pandorum". Coming Soon Media, L.P. Retrieved 25 June 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Travis Milloy". Fielding on Film. 9 December 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Dave McNary (8 May 2008). "Quaid, Foster set for 'Pandorum'". Variety. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Christian Koehl (5 August 2008). "'Pandorum' secures German funds". Variety. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  8. ^ Overture Films. "PANDORUM - Now Available on DVD & Blu-ray". Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  9. ^ Barton, Steve (16 November 2009). "Exclusive: Shock Festival Wallpapers and Radio Spots". Dread Central. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b "Pandorum (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  12. ^ "Pandorum". Metacritic. Retrieved 14 October 2009. 
  13. ^ Kevin Harley on (2 October 2009). "Pandorum review | GamesRadar". Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  14. ^ McGlynn, Jack (29 October 2009). "Pandorum Review". Film Ireland. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  15. ^

External links[edit]