The Space Between Us (film)

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The Space Between Us
The Space Between Us poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Chelsom
Produced by
Screenplay byAllan Loeb
Story by
  • Stewart Schill
  • Richard Barton Lewis
  • Allan Loeb
Music byAndrew Lockington
CinematographyBarry Peterson
Edited byDavid Moritz
Distributed bySTXfilms
Release date
  • February 3, 2017 (2017-02-03)
Running time
121 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million[1]
Box office$14.8 million[1]

The Space Between Us is a 2017 American romantic science fiction film directed by Peter Chelsom and written by Allan Loeb, from a story by Stewart Schill, Richard Barton Lewis, and Loeb. The film stars Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, and Carla Gugino, and follows a teenage boy, born on Mars, who travels to Earth.

Principal photography began on September 14, 2015, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The film was released on February 3, 2017 by STXfilms. It received negative reviews from critics and was a box office bomb, grossing $14.8 million against its $30 million budget.[1]


In the near future, multi-billionaire Nathaniel Shepard, CEO of Genesis, launches the first ever mission to colonize Mars. During the journey, the lead astronaut, Sarah Elliot, discovers that she is pregnant. Shortly after landing, she dies from eclampsia while giving birth to the first human born on Mars, Gardner Elliot. The father of the child is unknown. In a dilemma, Nathaniel eventually decides to keep the child on Mars as a secret, to avoid a PR disaster for his company and also keep the child safe.

Sixteen years later, Sarah’s son Gardner has grown up into an inquisitive, highly intelligent boy who has met only 14 people during his very unconventional upbringing. One day, in order to find out more about his mother, he hacks into Centaur, a robot he helped build, to gain access to the ship's storage. There, he retrieves his mother's items. Among them are a wedding ring and a USB drive, from which he plays a video of her and a man in a beach house. Convinced that the man is his father, he becomes determined to find him.

Gardner logs on to an Internet chatroom, where he has struck up an online relationship with Tulsa, a street-smart girl from Colorado who is constantly being shuffled from one foster home to the next. Under the guise of being confined to a penthouse due to osteogenesis imperfecta, they discuss their plans for the future. Gardner promises to come see her someday. He then watches the German language film, Wings of Desire, where an angel falls in love with a human, and thus falls to Earth.

His mother figure, astronaut Kendra Wyndham, video calls Nathaniel and Genesis director Tom Chen to inform them of Gardner's extraordinary intelligence and to beg them to allow him to go to Earth. Nathaniel refuses, as Gardner would have to undergo a highly risky surgery to increase his bone density and then train to adapt to Earth's atmospheric pressure. Gardner undergoes the surgery anyway and after training, he, Kendra and some other astronauts board a space shuttle for Earth.

On the day of the space shuttle's arrival, Nathaniel discovers that Gardner is on board. He angrily confronts Tom, who hid this from him. Despite his anger, Nathaniel visits Gardner, who is being quarantined in NASA while undergoing medical tests to determine whether he is fit for life on Earth. After a visit from Kendra, Gardner manages to discover that he is not fit for life on Earth. Upset, he stages a daring escape and hitches a ride to find Tulsa. Upon seeing him, Tulsa slaps him as she is upset at Gardner for "ghosting" her for 7 months. However, she forgives him and he convinces her to help him find his father. They stop by her house to get supplies for the journey, but are found by Nathaniel and Kendra. While trying to convince him to return to NASA, Gardner angrily confronts Kendra with her own admission of not wanting children and escapes with Tulsa on an old plane which her foster father was working on. The plane abruptly loses oil pressure while still in the sky. Tulsa manages to crash-land the plane into an old, abandoned barn, causing a fiery explosion. They escape safely to a diner where they determine the location of the shaman who married Gardner's parents, Shaman Neka.

Believing that Gardner has died, a grieving Nathaniel and Kendra let out their rage at one another. After discovering that no bodies were found in the wreckage, they receive some devastating news – Gardner's body contains dangerously high levels of troponin, meaning that he has an enlarged heart. His heart is unable to stand Earth's atmospheric pressure and so Gardner must be returned to Mars immediately if he is to survive. The search is resumed with renewed fervor and they discover CCTV footage of Gardner and Tulsa in a supermarket parking lot, where they have bought clothes and supplies for the journey. During the journey, Gardner tells Tulsa the truth – that he was born and raised on Mars. Unwilling to accept the truth, she forces him out of the car but forgives him once he promises never to lie to her again, although she still does not believe him.

At night, they kiss by the campfire and set up their sleeping bags to sleep under the stars. In the morning, they are discovered by a follower of Shaman Neka and are brought to him. He agrees to help them. Gardner's nose starts bleeding, a fact he conceals while Tulsa accesses the records to get the location of the beach house, which is in Summerland, California.

Before they begin their journey, they make a detour to Las Vegas so Tulsa can show him the world. Gardner's nose starts to bleed again and he collapses and is taken to a hospital. After seeing the carbon tubes in his bones on the results of an X-ray at the hospital, Tulsa tells Gardner she now believes he was born on Mars, but plans to leave him in the hospital, before foster care can come, as he is too sick to continue their journey. Gardner reveals that he knows he won't last on Earth anymore and all he wants is to meet his father before he dies. Tulsa gives in and helps him escape. They steal a car and drive to the beach house. There, they meet the man from the video, who reveals that he is not Sarah Elliot's husband, but her own brother. However, he thinks that the two are lying to him. Gardner runs down to the sea, where he tells Tulsa that this is where he wants to die. He collapses. Tulsa tries frantically to drag him to the shore, but he is too heavy for her. Nathaniel and Kendra arrive just in time to save him. After Nathaniel performs CPR on him, Gardner asks him about his mother Sarah and reveals that he knows that Nathaniel is his real father. Nathaniel, Kendra, and Tulsa rush Gardner to a Dream Chaser. They plan to launch into the stratosphere to stabilize him. When that proves to not be enough, a desperate Nathaniel takes the controls (since the regular pilot is not authorized to exceed the design limits) and rockets the vehicle into orbit. Free of Earth's gravity, Gardner is revived and temporarily stabilized.

Soon, Gardner boards a space shuttle to Mars. Tulsa and Gardner have an emotional parting. Kendra, who is staying on Earth because she is retiring from active flight status with NASA, adopts Tulsa. Determined to join Gardner on Mars, Tulsa joins Kendra's training program. Back on Mars, with his father Nathaniel, Gardner is glad to be home.[citation needed]


  • Gary Oldman[2] as Nathaniel Shepherd, Sarah's love interest and Gardner's father
  • Asa Butterfield[3] as Gardner Elliot, Nathaniel and Sarah's son / The Narrator
  • Carla Gugino[2] as Kendra Wyndham
  • Britt Robertson[2] as Tulsa, Gardner's love interest
  • B. D. Wong[4] as Genesis Director Tom Chen
  • Janet Montgomery[4] as Sarah Elliot, Gardner's mother and Nathaniel's love interest
  • Trey Tucker[5] as Harrison Lane
  • Scott Takeda[6] as Dr. Gary Loh
  • Adande Thorne as Scott Hubbard
  • Colin Egglesfield as Sarah's brother
  • Gil Birmingham as Shaman Neka
  • Logan Paul as Roger[7]
  • Danny Winn as Dr. Cox
  • Saarh Minnich as reporter
  • Ryan Jason Cook as Control Room technician
  • Lauren Myers as Alice Myers
  • Morse Bicknell as NASA executive
  • Beth Bailey as NASA Chief Director
  • Chuck Woodruff as Tim Janis
  • Christen Rakes as maid
  • Bruce Macintosh as NASA scientist
  • David House as Roland
  • Esodie Geiger as Mrs. Tupelo
  • Charles Arnone as mechanic
  • Jacob Browne as New Mexico State policeman
  • Jenny Gabrille as Havasupai woman
  • Bernardo Saracino as pilot
  • Eli Goodman as ER doctor
  • Ramona King as reception nurse
  • Eb Lottitmer as Air Force Colonel
  • Ramsey Scotte as foster care worker


In 1999, Universal Pictures and Mike Lobell Productions acquired a screenplay, then titled Mainland, about a rebellious teen born on the moon who desired to come to the earth but whose physiology, it was feared, would not be able to survive the transition. After failed rewrites by Allison Burnett (Autumn in New York), the project was placed on hiatus, as Lobell left Universal for a deal at Castle Rock Entertainment. The project remained unproduced for over a decade.[citation needed]

On March 13, 2014, an industry source revealed that a science fiction-adventure film titled Out of This World was in development at Relativity Media, scripted by Allan Loeb.[8] Later in August 2014, it was reported that Peter Chelsom, who had previously directed Hector and the Search for Happiness for Relativity, was hired to direct the film, while Relativity would produce and distribute.[9] Southpaw Entertainment's Richard B. Lewis was attached to produce the film, and also received a "story by" credit.[9]

On February 2, 2015, Asa Butterfield was tapped to play the lead character in the film, a teen who was raised on Mars, and who falls in love with a girl on Earth he has been communicating with. Chelsom and Tinker Lindsay rewrote the screenplay.[3] On July 13, 2015, it was announced that Relativity was selling the project to STX Entertainment, in order to reach an agreement with its creditors and avoid having to file for bankruptcy.[10] STX produced and distributed the film.[10] On July 31, 2015, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, and Britt Robertson joined the cast of the then-untitled film.[2] Robertson would play the female lead, a teen girl from Colorado.[2] On September 8, 2015, it was announced that the title of the film would be The Space Between Us, and B. D. Wong and Janet Montgomery were added to the cast.[4] On September 30, 2015, Trey Tucker joined the film to play an astronaut,[5] and on October 23, 2015, Scott Takeda was cast to play a doctor in the film.[6]

The actors Asa Butterfield (20 years old at the time of the film's release) and Britt Robertson (27 at the time) have a seven-year age gap between them, greater than their respective characters (both of whom are around 16 or 17), which caused controversy, but in an interview Robertson explains that the age difference helped with the dynamic of the relationship between Tulsa and Gardner:

"I don't think Tulsa is really a teenager. She's had to be an adult for a really long time. She's had to take care of herself. She's had to figure out where she's going to live, and pay her mortgage or gas. She thinks like an adult. There's this dynamic where she's almost parenting him in some ways. There's this very specific kind of thing where she's teaching him about the world (saying), 'Get it together, these are people. Why are you doing it this way? Why aren't you being human?' [Our age difference] I think really helps the dynamic. It's not something I really pay attention to."[11]

Principal photography on the film began on September 14, 2015, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.[6][12]

Decathlon diving masks were used as ordinary masks for the team that helps the returning astronauts out of the spaceship.[clarification needed][citation needed]

Andrew Lockington composed the film's score, which was released through Sony Music Entertainment.[citation needed]


In August 2015, STX Entertainment scheduled the film to be released on July 29, 2016.[13] The release date was later switched with STX's other release, Bad Moms, and was moved its release date later to August 19, 2016.[14] However, Kubo and the Two Strings, Ben-Hur, and War Dogs were all slated for August 19, 2016 and STX Entertainment moved its release date later to December 21, 2016, allowing more time for work on the visual effects.[15] The film's release date was later moved to December 16, 2016,[16] and finally STX Entertainment moved its release date later to February 3, 2017.[17]

Box office[edit]

The Space Between Us grossed $7.9 million in the United States and Canada and $6.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $14.8 million, against a production budget of $30 million.[1]

In North America, The Space Between Us was released alongside Rings and The Comedian, and was projected to gross $8–10 million from 2,812 theaters during its opening weekend.[18] The film ended up grossing $1.4 million on its first day and $3.8 million in its opening weekend, finishing well below expectations, and 7th at the box office.[19] In its third weekend the film grossed $260,000 after being pulled from 2,441 theaters (dropping 84.6% to 331), marking the 8th biggest theater drop in history.[20][21]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 16% based on 131 reviews, with an average rating of 4.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Space Between Us strands its star-crossed young lovers in a mind-numbingly vast expanse of shameless cheese that will send all but the most forgiving viewers eye-rolling for the exits."[22] On Metacritic, the film holds a score 33 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[23] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[24]

Writing for IndieWire, David Ehrlich gave the film a grade of "C," calling it a "guileless and good-natured sci-fi love story".[25] Kevin Maher gave a scathing review in The Times, writing that the film is "notable only for some horrendously bad science and a career-low performance from Gary Oldman".[26]


Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref.
Teen Choice Awards July 31, 2016 Choice Movie Actress: AnTEENcipated Britt Robertson Nominated [27]
August 13, 2017 Choice Movie: Sci-Fi The Space Between Us Nominated [28]
Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi Asa Butterfield Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Space Between Us (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kit, Borys (July 31, 2015). "Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino and Britt Robertson Join STX's Intergalactic Love Story". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Kit, Borys (February 2, 2015). "'Ender's Game' Star Asa Butterfield Nabs Lead for 'Out of This World' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Science Fiction Love Story From STX Entertainment to be Officially Titled 'The Space Between Us'". PR Newswire. September 8, 2015. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Kit, Borys (September 30, 2015). "Newcomer Joins Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield in 'Space Between Us' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c McNary, Dave (October 23, 2015). "Scott Takeda Enters 'The Space Between Us' With Gary Oldman". Variety. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  7. ^ "The Space Between Us Cast + Crew". Fandango. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  8. ^ Maclamore, Mac (March 3, 2014). "{Tb Exclusive} 8 Directors in Line to Get "Out of This World" for Relativity Media!". Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  9. ^ a b Yamato, Jen (August 4, 2014). "Relativity Headed 'Out of This World' With 'Hector' Helmer". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Lang, Brent (July 13, 2015). "Relativity Selling 'Out Of This World' to STX Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  11. ^ "Interviews: Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson on 'The Space Between Us'". 1 February 2017.
  12. ^ "On the Set for 9/18/15: Rian Johnson Calls Action on Star Wars: Episode 8, Ghostbusters & The Magnificent Seven Wrap". September 18, 2015. Archived from the original on February 21, 2016. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  13. ^ Busch, Anita (October 22, 2015). "STX Pushes 'Free State Of Jones' To Summer 2016, Dates 'The Space Between Us'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  14. ^ "Comedy 'Bad Moms', Sci-Fi Film 'The Space Between Us' Swap Release Dates". The Hollywood Reporter. March 14, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  15. ^ McNary, Dave (June 27, 2016). "Asa Butterfield's 'Space Between Us' Set for December". Variety. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  16. ^ Busch, Anita (September 15, 2016). "STX Shifts Release Dates For 'Bye Bye Man' & 'The Space Between Us'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  17. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 23, 2016). "STX's 'The Space Between Us' Sets New Feb. 3 Launch Date". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2016-11-23.
  18. ^ "'Rings' Hopes To Choke 'Split' In Genre Scrimmage Over Super Bowl Weekend – Box Office". Deadline Hollywood.
  19. ^ "'Split' Dings 'Rings'; Auds Keep Distance From 'Space'; 'Comedian' Bombs: Sunday Update". Deadline Hollywood.
  20. ^ "Another Holiday Weekend Where Holdovers Reign & New Studio Releases Tank: Presidents' Day B.O." Deadline Hollywood.
  21. ^ "Biggest Theater Drops". Box Office Mojo.
  22. ^ "The Space Between Us (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  23. ^ "The Space Between Us Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  24. ^ CinemaScore on Twitter (February 3, 2017). "The Space Between Us". Retrieved June 6, 2017.[non-primary source needed]
  25. ^ "'The Space Between Us' Review: YA Goes To Mars In This Weightless Teen Weepie". Metacritic. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  26. ^ Maher, Kevin (February 10, 2017). "The Space Between Us". The Times. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  27. ^ Vulpo, Mike (May 24, 2016). "Teen Choice Awards 2016 Nominations Announced: See the "First Wave" of Potential Winners". E!. Archived from the original on May 25, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  28. ^ Ceron, Ella (June 19, 2017). "Teen Choice Awards 2017: See the First Wave of Nominations". Teen Vogue. Retrieved June 19, 2017.


External links[edit]