Ex Machina writer and director Alex Garland’s newest film finally has a 2018 release date. The film, Annihilation, is an adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 novel by the same name. The book is the first in the planned Southern Reach novel trilogy by the author. The sci-fi work tells the story of four female scientists traveling into a dangerous location known as Area X – a part of the world left abandoned from the rest of civilization. Previous explorers in this region have been met with mysterious illness, strange disappearances, and emotional trauma.
The film version stars Natalie Portman (Jackie), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok), and Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight) as the four scientists. Garland is also reteaming with his Ex Machina stars Oscar Isaac and Sonoya Mizuno. Isaac plays the husband of Portman’s character who returns from a year long expedition into Area X drastically changed. Author VanderMeer has already called Garland’s take on the film “mind blowing” and noted that the ending of the movie is slightly different than his book.
Audiences won’t have to wait too much longer to see the feature for themselves. According to Deadline, Annihilation has been give a release date of February 23, 2018 by Paramount. This will be almost a year after the first footage of the film appeared at CinemaCon.
Interestingly enough, this release date was previously held by Pacific Rim Uprising, the follow up to Guillermo del Toro’s original Robots vs. Kaiju movie. That film, directed by Steven S. DeKnight, was moved up to March with a new release date of March 23, 2018. The most anticipated release of February is Marvel’s Black Panther film which will be released on February 16, 2018.
January and February are usually slower months for movies, though that stigma could be changing. Earlier this year, M. Night Shyalaman’s Split was a box office hit in January, and the first Deadpool film broke records in February 2016 with a $115.3 million opening weekend. Annihilation may not have the same devoted following as the Merc with the Mouth, but fans of science fiction and Garland’s trippy films are likely to turn up to theaters to see what the writer/director has in store.
And Garland isn’t the only draw of the film. Having a female lead cast, especially one that features several women of color in Thompson, Rodriguez, and Mizuno is sure to bring in crowds eager to see more women (and women of color) featured in genre works. It is a great step forward along with shows like Star Trek: Discovery and the previously mentioned Black Panther film, both which give major roles to women of color. Thompson herself is also playing a key role in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok as the warrior Valkyrie.
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