Ad Astra, a sci-fi drama starring Brad Pitt that was supposed to be released later this month, has been removed from Fox's release schedule. The film, which follows Army Corps. engineer Rory McBride (Pitt) in his quest to discover what went wrong during his father's (Tommy Lee Jones) mission to Neptune, was first announced back in 2016 and made its way through principal photography in 2017. It was at one point slated for January 2019, before the studio pushed it back to Memorial Day weekend.
However, over the past several months, all's been extremely quiet on the Ad Astra front. Other than a single still image of Pitt's character, no marketing materials exist. The lack of a promotional campaign led many to believe the film was going to be delayed, and now it's unsurprisingly been officially pushed back.
According to IndieWire, Ad Astra is off the slate. It doesn't have a new release date yet, but director James Gray is targeting the fall film festivals for a possible debut. Apparently, he's still editing the picture (which is heavy on visual effects work), so it doesn't sound like it'd be ready for a May release anyway.
The delay not only gives Gray extra time to finish the film, but should benefit Ad Astra from a commercial perspective. Admittedly, summer was always an odd window for this one, especially during a weekend where it'd be facing Aladdin, Booksmart, and Brightburn. As anticipated as Ad Astra is amongst cinephiles, there's a good chance it would have gotten lost in the shuffle over Memorial Day, and now Fox can find a less-competitive slot for its premiere. It's also worth noting that due to the Disney/Fox deal now being official, Ad Astra is formally property of the Mouse House, so Disney probably felt it best to not release two major films on the same weekend - especially since Aladdin is expected to be a big draw.
It'll be interesting to see what becomes of Ad Astra, which on-paper sounds like it could be the latest in a growing line of recent ambitious, thought-provoking sci-fi films. Given Gray's previous filmography, the fall festivals could be an ideal launching spot and perhaps even insert the film into the Oscar conversation. Typically, it doesn't bode well when a film is repeatedly pushed back, but viewers will no doubt keep their fingers crossed that Ad Astra proves to be an exception to that rule and delivers a compelling moviegoing experience. This one's been on people's radars for a while, so it would be a shame if it fell flat.