Passengers (2016 film)
|Directed by||Morten Tyldum|
|Written by||Jon Spaihts|
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Edited by||Maryann Brandon|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$303.1 million|
Passengers is a 2016 American science-fiction romance film directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Jon Spaihts, partially based on the 1950s EC Comics story "50 Girls 50". The film stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, with Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne in supporting roles. The plot depicts two people who are awakened 90 years too early from an induced hibernation on a spaceship, transporting thousands of passengers, travelling to a colony on a planet in a star system 60 light years from Earth.
The script was written in 2007 by Spaihts, but was kept in development hell, with multiple actors attached over the years. In December 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment picked up the film's rights, with Tyldum attached to direct. Chris Pratt and Jennifer 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. It is the last film from Columbia Pictures to have the involvement of Village Roadshow Pictures.
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 two dimensions and RealD 3D by Columbia Pictures. The film received mostly negative reviews from critics, with particular criticism for its plot and characters. However, it did receive positive notices for Lawrence and Pratt's performances, as well as Newman's musical score, visual style, and production values.  The film has grossed $303 million worldwide and received two nominations for Best Original Score and Best Production Design at the 89th Academy Awards.
The Avalon, a sleeper ship transporting 5,000 colonists and 258 crew members in hibernation pods, is travelling from Earth to the planet Homestead II, a journey lasting 120 years. Thirty years into the journey, an asteroid collision damages the ship (that is theoretically damage-proof), resulting in a malfunction that awakens one passenger, mechanical engineer James "Jim" Preston, 90 years too early.
After a year of isolation, with only an android barman named Arthur for company, Jim grows despondent and contemplates suicide until he notices a beautiful young woman named Aurora Lane inside her pod. Jim views Aurora's video file and is smitten with her. After struggling with the morality of prematurely reviving Aurora for companionship, thereby robbing her of her future life, he awakens her anyway, letting her believe that her pod also malfunctioned. Jim asks Arthur to keep the secret that he woke her up until Jim himself has told her. Aurora, devastated at having to live out her life on the ship, unsuccessfully attempts to re-enter hibernation. Resigned to the situation, Aurora, a writer and journalist, begins writing a book about her experience.
Over the next year, Jim and Aurora slowly grow closer, eventually falling in love with each other. Jim intends to propose to Aurora, but after Arthur hears Jim say that there are "no secrets" between Aurora and him, Arthur inadvertently reveals the truth to her. Aurora, anguished, alternately berates, shuns, and physically attacks Jim. She furiously rejects Jim's apologies and she avoids any contact with him.
Some time after, multiple failures occur on the starship one after the other, and another pod failure awakens Gus Mancuso, deck chief officer. He discovers these multiple failures throughout the ship's systems, despite the computer not revealing their origin. If not repaired, the ship will continue suffering critical system failures and the mission may fail, which could cost the lives of all the hibernating passengers and crew. Gus attempts to repair the ship with Jim and Aurora's help, but he soon falls critically ill, due to complications from the failure of his pod's life support. The Autodoc, the ship's automated medical diagnostics and treatment pod, reveals that Gus has suffered a pansystemic necrosis, caused by multiple failures of his hibernation pod. This only gives him hours to live. Before dying, Gus gives Jim and Aurora his deck chief ID, allowing them to access crew-only areas and repair the ship.
Jim and Aurora discover a series of hull breaches from the asteroid collision two years earlier. The computer module administering the fusion reactor powering the ship has been critically damaged, causing the ship's cascading malfunctions, as all of the other systems divert computing power towards trying to maintain the reactor. Jim and Aurora replace the damaged module, but when the computer attempts to vent the reactor to extinguish a runaway plasma reaction, the exterior vent hatch fails. Jim is forced to spacewalk and vent the plasma from outside using the manual hatch controls within the vent tube. A malfunction forces Jim to stay within the tube to manually keep the hatch open, while Aurora initiates the venting from inside the ship. She admits being terrified of losing Jim (whom she still loves) and being left alone. Jim uses a door as a shield, but is blasted out into space and his tether snaps. His damaged spacesuit loses oxygen, and he falls unconscious. Aurora manages to retrieve a clinically dead Jim from space and resuscitate him in the Autodoc while the Avalon, its reactor repaired, returns to normal operations.
Afterwards, Jim learns that with Gus' clearance, the Autodoc can function as a makeshift hibernation pod for one person. He can put Aurora back in hibernation for the remainder of the voyage and offers her the chance to make it to Homestead II and live her desired life, willing to become alone again to do so. Realizing that she would never see Jim again, as well as truly understanding Jim's feelings when he woke her up, Aurora chooses to remain awake with Jim, and he presents her with the ring he had made, which she accepts.
Eighty-eight years later, the ship's crew is awakened on schedule, shortly before arrival at Homestead II. In the ship's grand concourse area, they discover a huge tree, many trailing vines, much vegetation, birds flying, and a cabin. Aurora's voice-over is reading her story, describing the wonderful life she and Jim had together on the Avalon.
- Jennifer Lawrence as Aurora Lane, a journalist and writer
- Chris Pratt as Jim Preston, a mechanical engineer
- Michael Sheen as Arthur, an android bartender on the Avalon
- Laurence Fishburne as Gus Mancuso, the chief deck officer
- Julee Cerda and Nazanin Boniadi as hologram instructors
- Andy García as Captain Norris, the commanding officer of the Avalon
- Aurora Perrineau as Celeste, Aurora's best friend
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. At one point, the film was set to star Keanu Reeves and Emily Blunt. The film's production budget was a relatively low $35 million, and at various points in its development, actors attached to it included Reeves, Reese Witherspoon, and Rachel McAdams. Brian Kirk was originally scheduled to make his feature directorial debut with the film, with Reeves in the lead. On December 5, 2014, it was announced that Sony Pictures Entertainment had won the rights to the film. In early 2015, Morten Tyldum was chosen to direct the film. Tyldum had always wanted to do a massive sci-fi action movie, but also stressed the importance of a character-driven sci-fi film, rather than a cold and distant one.
Metro described its plot as bearing a strong resemblance to the EC Comics story "50 Girls 50" by Al Williamson, first published in the July–August 1953 issue of Weird Science, in which two passengers of a colony spaceship are awakened from hibernation early and fall in love.
The cast - Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, and Laurence Fishburne – was announced between February 2015 and January 2016. Lawrence was paid $20 million against 30% of the profit after the movie breaks even, and Pratt was paid $12 million.
Principal photography for the film began on September 15, 2015 at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Atlanta. Filming occasionally took place for full days, with a bulk of the shooting involving the two leads only. Rodrigo Prieto was cinematographer, and Maryann Brandon was film editor. Filming wrapped on February 12, 2016.
Thomas Newman composed the musical score for Passengers. Spaihts said that he wrote Passengers while listening to Newman's previous scores. Also, Imagine Dragons recorded a song "Levitate" for the film's soundtrack. It was released on November 29, 2016. The Chinese theme song for the film is "Light Years Away" composed by G.E.M., for which the music video surpassed 200 million views in September 2019, becoming the first Chinese music video to achieve the feat.
In August 2015, Sony Pictures Entertainment set the film's release date for December 21, 2016, in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. The film was concurrently released in three-dimensional and RealD 3D formats, with the international rollout running through Christmas to January 12, 2017.
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. The first official images of the film were released on August 12, 2016.
Passengers was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD on March 14, 2017, and was made available on digital HD from Amazon Video and iTunes on March 7, 2017. On March 14, 2017, Passengers: Awakening, a virtual-reality experience based on the film launched for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
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. It was the second-highest grossing original live-action Hollywood release of 2016, after La La Land.
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. After making $1.2 million from Tuesday night previews and $4.1 million on its first day, projections for the six-day opening were lowered to $27 million. 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. It became the third-biggest original live-action domestic release of 2016 behind La La Land ($149 million) and Central Intelligence ($126 million).
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 31% based on reviews from 281 critics, with an average rating of 5.00/10. 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." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 41 out of 100, based on 48 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a 77% overall positive score.
Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle gave the film 3 out of 4 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." James Dyer of Empire gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, stating that 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". Peter Keough of The Boston Globe gave the film 2.5 out of 4 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." 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 3 out of 5 stars. Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter said the film "concocts a sort of Titanic in outer space, with dollops of "Sleeping Beauty" and Gravity thrown into the high-concept mix." Linden praised the striking visual design and elegant costumes, but said that the "heavy-handed mix of life-or-death exigencies and feel-good bromides finally feels like a case of more being less."
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. 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". Alissa Wilkinson of Vox called it "a fantasy of Stockholm syndrome, in which the captured eventually identifies with and even loves the captor" and "a really disturbing wish fulfillment fantasy".
Lawrence was proud of the film, but agreed with suggestions that the film might have benefited from a different edit and starting with her character waking up. Producer Neal Moritz said he loved the film and thought the script was one of the best he had ever read. The film was well received at test screenings but shortly before release the media picked up on one review and it became a mantra. Moritz "thought it was a really unfair thing because I think it's a beautiful film I couldn’t be more proud of."
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipients||Result||Ref.|
|Academy Awards||February 26, 2017||Best Production Design||Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena||Nominated|||
|Best Original Score||Thomas Newman|
|Art Directors Guild Awards||February 11, 2017||Excellence in Production Design for a Fantasy Film||Guy Hendrix Dyas||Won|||
|Golden Trailer Awards||June 6, 2017||Best Action||Sony Pictures Entertainment||Nominated|||
|Best Motion Poster|
|Saturn Awards||June 28, 2017||Best Science Fiction Film||Passengers||Nominated|||
|Best Actor||Chris Pratt|
|Best Actress||Jennifer Lawrence|
|Best Music||Thomas Newman|
|Best Production Design||Guy Hendrix Dyas|
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