Following hot on the heels of Paramount Pictures box office success 10 Cloverfield Lane (which has grossed $56 million domestically on a $15 million budget), the studio is moving quickly on another J.J. Abrams-produced property. Set in the near future, God Particle will center on a crew based on a space station orbiting our planet. The team of astronauts must fight for their survival after witnessing an accident with a Hadron collider, which causes the Earth to completely vanish and challenges all that they know about the fabric of reality.
The sci-fi thriller has been penciled in on Bad Robot’s schedule as far back as 2012, but after Paramount absorbed their InSurge label the project didn’t manage to make it off the ground that time around. Four years on, additional details surrounding the feature film are flying at us faster than the speed of light, with production set to begin in the second quarter of this year, after the film received an early 2017 release date. Moreover, acclaimed actors David Oyelowo and Gugu Mbatha-Raw are the first names to sign on for the Julius Onah-directed film.
According to Variety, the two stars are currently in negotiations to claim their spot on the cast, though there is no word yet on which characters they would be playing. However, this could mark a promising sign of things to come, as both actors have accumulated an impressive portfolio. Oyelowo has a strong working relationship with Paramount dating back to his portrayal of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, for which his performance received rave reviews. He re-teamed with the studio this year on Captive, starring opposite Kate Mara. As far as his sci-fi background goes, he has worked on 20th Century Fox’s franchise reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. He is currently shooting American Express with Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried and Joel Edgerton.
Mbatha-Raw has quickly built up an eclectic resume of projects and earned critical acclaim for her performances in the period drama Belle and the romantic drama Beyond the Lights, from which she received numerous accolade nominations. She previously worked with Abrams on the short-lived action-thriller TV series Undercovers, and then went on to appear as a social worker in the sci-fi series Touch. More recently, she has starred in Jupiter Ascending and Concussion. Her upcoming films include the civil war drama Free State of Jones and Disney’s live-action re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast.
Bearing in mind that Bad Robot’s 10 Cloverfield Lane turned out to be such a big hit, we are inclined to believe that God Particle will follow suit and remain as a smaller budget film, focusing more on the dilemmas and subsequent resourcefulness of the film's stranded astronauts, rather than flashy special effect sequences.
Another interesting point worth considering is whether God Particle could turn out to be the next Cloverfield film, especially since 10 Cloverfield Lane started life as a slightly different animal titled The Cellar before being reworked. Adding further credibility to that notion, J.J. Abrams recently teased a possible third Cloverfield entry. Now, while this doesn’t necessarily mean that God Particle will be a Cloverfield sequel (10 Cloverfield Lane wasn’t one either), it could be a successor that has some sort of thematic connection to these stories – or it could just as well be a standalone, unique film of its very own.
God Particle opens in U.S. theaters on February 24th, 2017.