Brad Pitt heads to outer space in the first look image from James Gray's sci-fi film, Ad Astra. Gray has never been a director content to stick with one genre himself, having thus far made everything from crime-thrillers (We Own the Night) to period romances (The Immigrant) and, most recently, a historical adventure in the form of his critically acclaimed The Lost City of Z adaptation. The storyteller is already signed on to try his hand at the spy genre next, via a movie adaptation of the Terry Hayes espionage novel, I Am Pilgrim.
First, however, Gray will travel to the edges of our solar system with Ad Astra, a Heart of Darkness-esque tale that follows space engineer Roy McBride (Pitt) on an expedition to track down his father (Tommy Lee Jones), who went missing while searching for alien life near Neptune. Written by Gray and Ethan Gross (Fringe), Ad Astra is further bolstered by a cast that includes Ruth Negga (Preacher), Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games), John Ortiz (Kong: Skull Island) and Kimmy Shields (Insatiable).
While Ad Astra is currently scheduled to hit theaters in early January 2019, there's been speculation that 20th Century Fox (which is backing the film) will elect to give the movie a late December limited release, in order to qualify for next year's Oscars ceremony. While nothing has been made official on that front as of yet, the first image from Ad Astra has made its way online in the meantime, ahead of the film's first trailer. Take a look in the space below:
Ad Astra was shot by Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, which explains why this screenshot has a lighting scheme and color palette reminiscent of Christopher Nolan's own cinematic space odyssey. Gray's films otherwise sounds rather different from Nolan's, as far as their premises and themes are concerned. Indeed, the former tends to focus on telling stories about characters searching for some greater meaning and/or purpose in their lives, whether that means traveling to a new country (The Immigrant) or finding a civilization hidden from the rest of the world (The Lost City of Z). Ad Astra and its search for alien life (and Pitt's father) narrative is in keeping with the rest of Gray's oeuvre, in that sense.
As for Ad Astra's chances of getting a late December limited release - that's beginning to seem less and less likely now. Fox already has two fall releases (The Hate U Give and Widows) that are generating positive buzz following their world premieres at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, so the studio may decide to focus its efforts on giving those movies an awards season push, along with this November's anticipated Queen and Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody. In that event, Ad Astra may be left to hit theaters in early 2019 and try to appeal to the same high-minded sci-fi loving audience that turned out to see Annihilation this past winter.
Source: 20th Century Fox [h/t Imgur]
- Ad Astra (2019) release date: May 24, 2019