Oscar-nominated Norwegian director Morten Tyldum’s (The Imitation Game) forthcoming sci-fi romance film, Passengers, is based on an original script penned by Jon Spaihts, who previously collaborated with Damon Lindelof on the Prometheus screenplay and co-penned such upcoming tentpoles as Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange and Universal Pictures’ The Mummy reboot. Passengers also stars two of Hollywood’s hottest stars, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, as people who are onboard the spacecraft Avalon, having volunteered to make a 120-year journey to the Homestead Colony.

The story in Passengers takes a dramatic turn when one of the Avalon passengers (Pratt) awakens from his cryogenic sleep 90 years too early, after a malfunction strikes on the ship before it has reached its elected destination. Stranded and at risk of growing old and dying alone, he decides to awaken fellow passenger (Lawrence) to accompany him on the, now, futile journey.

Sony Entertainment motion picture group held a presentation at CinemaCon on Tuesday (April 12), showcasing and sharing further details about their upcoming roster of films, particularly impressing the crowd with excerpts of Passengers in the fourth quarter of 2016. The studio’s group chairman, Tom Rothman, introduced the section:

“The original script for Passengers was as compelling as any one I’ve every read. To me it is both intimate and epic… and that required two exceptional actors, particularly given the emotional and action gauntlet that the characters must run… This is about two people who take a voyage to space knowing that they will never come back to their families again.”

Rothman then welcomed the two lead stars to the stage, who were quick to admit that their characters couldn’t be more opposite. Though as the story progresses and the unlikely duo depend on each other and start to discover the joys of being stranded on board together, the cultural gap closes.

Lawrence revealed that her character in Passengers is an intellect, keen to share her story:

“My character is a writer in New York and she wants to be one of the first people to make the 120-year journey to another planet and come back and write about it. She’s very ambitious.”

By comparison, Pratt’s character is willing to travel on the cheapest ticket possible in the hope of realising his value:

“Jim is a mechanic and he is the type of guy who fixes things. He uses his hands. But in the world we live in, when something breaks, you don’t fix something, you buy a knew one. So he’s become obsolete and wants to travel to a distant planet, to a new world and distant future, hoping he’ll be useful.”

Morten Tyldum Directing Imitation Game Passengers CinemaCon Footage & Character Details

Morten Tyldum directing The Imitation Game


As reported by Vanity Fair, the footage served to reinforce to the cast’s comments, with one excerpt following Pratt as his solo character wanders through the sleek, sterile-looking spacecraft on a lonely, space abyss for almost a year, with only a robot bartender (Michael Sheen) as company, though he does deliver some inspiring advice: “You can’t get so hung up on where you’d rather be that you forget where you are. Every cloud is a silver lining.”

Perhaps Pratt’s silver lining comes in the form of Lawrence, who eventually succumbs to the situation and learns to have fun with her fellow passenger. Sparks ensue, as they both become more intimate during a romantic date night. While Rothman had warned that the effects were rough and incomplete, one incredible sequence showing Lawrence swimming alone in the spacecraft’s pool seemed to ‘wow’ the audience.

As the panel continued with Pratt and Lawrence bantering back and forth, their clear chemistry was apparent, making them the perfect candidates for an intimate drama like Passengers. Pratt and Lawrence, both being from humble beginnings, have gone on to display range throughout their careers, with the former carving out a reputation as a strong character actor before achieving leading man status (Guardians of the Galaxy), and the latter being nominated for three Academy Awards (winning Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook). Passengers being one of the rare original, big budget and live-action feature films could prove to be a refreshing change of pace for the actors, cinema-going audiences and today’s Hollywood in general. Or, as Rothman remarked during the film’s CinemaCon presentation, “for those of us who love movies in movie theaters ”

Passengers opens in U.S. theaters on December 21st, 2016.

Sources: Sony Pictures [via Vanity Fair]