Passengers (2016 film)

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Passengers
Passengers 2016 film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Produced by
Written by Jon Spaihts
Starring
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Rodrigo Prieto
Edited by Maryann Brandon
Production
companies
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
Running time
116 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $110–150 million[2][3]
Box office $303.1 million[2]

Passengers is a 2016 American science fiction romance film directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Jon Spaihts. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as Aurora Lane and Jim Preston, respectively, with Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne and Andy Garcia in supporting roles. The plot depicts two people who are awakened ninety years too early from an induced hibernation on a spaceship, transporting thousands of passengers, travelling to a distant colony planet.

The film was originally written in 2007 by Spaihts but was kept in development hell, with multiple actors attached throughout the years. In December 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment picked up the film's rights, with Tyldum attached to direct. Pratt and Lawrence were cast as the two leads in February 2015. The film was produced by Village Roadshow Pictures, Start Motion Pictures, Original Film, LStar Capital, Wanda Pictures and Company Films. Principal photography took place at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Atlanta, Georgia from September 2015 to February 2016.

Passengers premiered at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles on December 14, 2016 and was released theatrically in the United States on December 21, 2016, in 2D and RealD 3D by Columbia Pictures. The film received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for Pratt and Lawrence's performances, as well as the score, visual style and production values, though criticism was directed at the plot and characters.[4][5] It grossed $303 million worldwide, becoming the third-biggest original live-action US release of 2016. The film received two Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score and Best Production Design at the 89th Academy Awards.[6]

Plot[edit]

The Avalon, a sleeper ship transporting 5,000 colonists and 258 crew members in hibernation pods, is on course to the planet Homestead II, a journey taking 120 years. Thirty years into its journey, the ship passes through an asteroid field, which causes a malfunction. The malfunction awakens one passenger, mechanical engineer Jim Preston, 90 years too early.

After a year of isolation, with no company except an android bartender named Arthur, Jim grows despondent and contemplates suicide. One day, he notices Aurora Lane in her pod. He watches her video profile and is immediately smitten. After struggling with the morality of manually reviving Aurora for companionship, therein robbing her of a long life on a planet, he awakens her, claiming her pod also must have malfunctioned. Aurora is devastated that she will grow old and die before the ship reaches Homestead II. Her attempts to re-enter hibernation are fruitless. Eventually, she accepts her situation and begins writing a book about her experiences. Jim and Aurora grow closer, and eventually fall in love.

After another year, Jim inadvertently allows Arthur to reveal the truth to Aurora by saying that he and Aurora have "no secrets" between them. Aurora is devastated; she considers his action tantamount to murder. She alternately berates, shuns, and physically attacks Jim. Jim tries to ask Aurora for forgiveness, but she furiously rejects him. The two refrain from contact for some time. Soon after, another pod failure awakens Gus Mancuso, Chief Deck Officer. The three discover multiple failures throughout the ship's systems. If not repaired, the ship will continue to suffer critical system failures. Gus attempts to repair the ship with Jim and Aurora's help, while Aurora still blames Jim for stealing her life. Gus becomes ill; unlike Jim's, his body was physically damaged by his malfunctioning pod. The Autodoc, an automated medical diagnostics and treatment pod, shows he has only hours to live. Before dying, Gus gives Jim and Aurora his ID badge to access crew-only areas and repair the ship.

Jim and Aurora discover a series of hull breaches from the meteor collision two years earlier. The computer module administering the fusion reactor that powers the ship has been damaged, causing the ship's escalating malfunctions. Jim and Aurora replace the damaged module. The computer attempts to vent the reactor in order to extinguish a massive reactor fire, but fails. Jim realizes that the reactor must be vented by opening the vent hatch from the ship's exterior. Aurora assists, while admitting she is terrified of losing Jim and being left alone. Aurora, from inside the ship, and Jim, outside, vent the reactor. Jim's tether snaps and his damaged spacesuit loses oxygen; Aurora frantically retrieves and resuscitates Jim in the Autodoc. He later learns that the Autodoc can function as a makeshift hibernation pod, but only for one person, and offers to send Aurora back to sleep for the remainder of the voyage.

Eighty-eight years later, the ship's crew awaken as scheduled, shortly before arrival on Homestead II. They discover a small house amid lush flora and fauna in the ship's grand concourse area. Aurora's book reveals that she chose to stay awake with Jim and continue writing her story.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The original script for Passengers was written by Jon Spaihts in 2007, and had been in development hell for years. In this original script, character Aurora's original surname was Dunn.[7] At one point, the film was set to star Keanu Reeves and Emily Blunt.[8] The film's production budget was a relatively low $35 million, and at various points in its development, actors attached to it included Keanu Reeves, Reese Witherspoon, and Rachel McAdams.[9] Brian Kirk was originally scheduled to make his feature directorial debut with the film, with Reeves in the lead.[10][11] On December 5, 2014, it was announced that Sony Pictures Entertainment had won the rights to the film.[12] In early 2015, Morten Tyldum was chosen to direct the film.[13] Tyldum had always wanted to do a massive sci-fi action movie, but also stressed the importance of a 'big guy' character-driven sci-fi film, rather than a cold and distant one.[14]

Metro described its plot as bearing a resemblance to the EC Comics story "50 Girls 50" by Al Williamson, first published in the July–August 1953 issue of Weird Science,[15] in which two passengers of a colony spaceship are awoken from hibernation early and fall in love.

The cast – Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne – were announced between February 2015 and January 2016.[16][17][18][19] Lawrence was paid $20 million against 30 percent of the profit after the movie breaks even and Pratt was paid $12 million.[9][20]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography on the film began on September 15, 2015 at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Atlanta, Georgia.[21][22] Filming occasionally took place for full days with a bulk of the shooting done around the two leads only. Rodrigo Prieto was cinematographer, and Maryann Brandon was film editor.[23][24] Filming concluded on February 12, 2016.[25]

Music[edit]

Thomas Newman composed the musical score for Passengers.[26] Spaihts said that he wrote Passengers while listening to Newman's previous scores.[27] Also, Imagine Dragons recorded a song, "Levitate", for the film's soundtrack. It was released on November 29, 2016.[28]

Release[edit]

In August 2015, Sony Pictures Entertainment set the film's release date for December 21, 2016, in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. The film was concurrently released in 3D and RealD 3D formats,[29] with the international rollout running through Christmas and the New Year, to January 12, 2017.[30]

Marketing[edit]

At CinemaCon 2016, Passengers was featured by Sony Pictures chairman Thomas Rothman, alongside Lawrence and Pratt during Sony's presentation. A teaser trailer of unfinished footage was presented afterwards.[31] The first official images of the film were released on August 12, 2016.[32] On September 5, 2016, the first poster for Passengers was released.[33] On September 20, 2016, Sony released the first trailer for the film.[34]

Home media[edit]

Passengers was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 14, 2017, and was made available on Digital HD from Amazon Video and iTunes on March 7, 2017.[35] On March 14, 2017, Passengers: Awakening, a virtual reality experience based on the film launched for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.[36]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Passengers grossed $100 million in the United States and Canada and $203.1 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $303.1 million, against a net production budget of $110 million.[2] It was the second-highest grossing original live-action Hollywood release of 2016, after La La Land.[37]

Passengers opened alongside Sing and Assassin's Creed, and was initially expected to gross around $50 million from 3,478 theaters over its first six days of release, although the studio was projecting a more conservative $35 million debut.[38][39] After making $1.2 million from Tuesday night previews[40] and $4.1 million on its first day, projections for the six-day opening were lowered to $27 million.[41] It went on to gross $15.1 million in its opening weekend (a six-day total of $30 million), finishing third at the box office behind Rogue One and Sing.[42] It became the third-biggest original live-action domestic release of 2016 behind Central Intelligence ($126 million) and La La Land ($149 million).[37]

Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 30% of 243 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Passengers proves Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence work well together – and that even their chemistry isn't enough to overcome a fatally flawed story."[43] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 41 out of 100 based on 48 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[44] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale,[45] while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a 77% overall positive score.[42]

Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle gave the film three out of four stars. He stated "despite the confinement and the limited cast, Passengers has moments of intense drama that take the actors to places of extreme feeling."[46] James Dyer of Empire gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, stating the film is "as surprisingly traditional as it is undeniably effective." He described the film as "Titanic amongst the stars" and "a touching, heartfelt tale of loss and love for the Gravity generation."[47] Peter Keough of The Boston Globe gave the film two and a half out of four stars, stating "perhaps as a well-written play for a cast of three, Passengers might have been first class. Instead, it's just another mediocre thrill ride."[48] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called the film an "appealing sci-fi romance" but criticized the final act as an "anticlimax". He gave the film three out of five stars.[49]

Rebecca Hawkes of The Telegraph described the film as not a romance but "a creepy ode to manipulation", describing the action as a "central act of violence" that is softened and justified.[50] Andrew Pulver of The Guardian called it an "interstellar version of social-media stalking" with "a fantastically creepy start" that, contrary to romantic comedies that manage to "plane down" the nastiness of stalking tactics, presents them in a way where "it's gruesomely inescapable".[51] Alissa Wilkinson of Vox called it "a fantasy of Stockholm syndrome, in which the captured eventually identifies and even loves the captor" and "a really disturbing wish fulfillment fantasy".[52]

Accolades[edit]

List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Academy Awards February 26, 2017 Best Production Design Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena Nominated [53]
[54]
Best Original Score Thomas Newman
Art Directors Guild Awards February 11, 2017 Excellence in Production Design for a Fantasy Film Guy Hendrix Dyas Won [55]
Golden Trailer Awards June 6, 2017 Best Action Sony Pictures Entertainment Nominated [56]
Best Motion Poster
Saturn Awards June 28, 2017 Best Science Fiction Passengers Nominated [57]
Best Actor Chris Pratt
Best Actress Jennifer Lawrence
Best Music Thomas Newman
Best Production Design Guy Hendrix Dyas

References[edit]

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External links[edit]