Damien Chazelle’s musical La La Land may have fallen short of winning Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, but the film was most certainly a rousing triumph. It was able to parlay its universal praise into a $396.7 million worldwide box office haul and ended up taking six Academy Awards home – including Best Director and Best Actress. After the success of Whiplash, La La Land truly catapulted Chazelle into the mainstream, and now cinephiles everywhere are curious to see what the talented helmsman does for a follow-up.
Back in December 2016, as La La Land was just beginning its nationwide theatrical run, word got out the director would be reuniting with star Ryan Gosling for First Man, a biopic about legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong (who was the first man to walk on the moon’s surface). According to the reports, principal photography was on track to begin at some point this year, and now viewers have learned when they can see Chazelle’s next film on the big screen.
In a press release, Universal announced First Man will be released on October 12, 2018, which is prime awards season real estate. As it stands now, the drama will be sandwiched between two key tentpoles from Warner Bros. – Aquaman and Jungle Book: Origins. Should things play out in First Man‘s favor, it’s likely it will emerge as a strong counter-programming option at the box office and do well commercially, especially given the talent involved.
First Man will be written by Spotlight scribe Josh Singer and is based on the book of the same name by James R. Hansen. The film looks to cover Armstrong’s life from 1961 – 1969, detailing NASA’s risky mission to put a man on the moon. Chazelle will explore the “sacrifices and the cost” of both Armstrong and the country during the long process. Those themes are in line with the director’s previous works, as both Whiplash and La La Land dealt with their subjects’ attempts to find a balance between their personal and professional lives while chasing dreams (in radically different ways, of course). Chazelle was also able to make drum lessons feel as intense as a war picture, so he should be in his element tackling a fact-based story that deals with a life or death situation
Gosling, who will portray Armstrong, should be provided with another meaty and compelling leading role to sink his teeth into. He worked very well with Chazelle on La La Land, earning an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and winning a Golden Globe. His turn in the musical showed he’s always willing to go the extra mile for his craft, and playing a famous figure like Neil Armstrong could be the part that gets him to the stage on Oscar Sunday. The Academy has long been fond of historical docudramas, so Chazelle and Gosling could be dominating another awards circuit in the near future.
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