As we approach the holiday movie season, one of the more fascinating offerings on the horizon is the sci-fi drama Passengers. The latest film from director Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), the project stars Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence as James and Aurora, two passengers aboard the spaceship Avalon whose hibernation pods malfunction 90 years prior to reach their destination. As they try to make the best of their situation, James and Aurora become the only hope for the Avalon when something goes horribly wrong. They are tasked with repairing the vehicle so the thousands of other passengers can survive.
Sony has been rather light on marketing materials thus far, unveiling only a single trailer and some still images. With the movie's release date fast approaching, the studio will most likely look to ramp up their advertising efforts over the next few weeks. Case in point, a new TV spot for the film has now made its way online. You can watch it above.
Though the commercial does include a few new shots, it's essentially a truncated version of the theatrical preview, setting the stage for the basic narrative without revealing too much. Once again, the mystery element is played up, with James' cryptic line, "There's a reason we woke up early." Sony is using that major secret as a primary selling point for Passengers, with the hope that the great unknown will bring in audiences curious to see what the twist is. Holding back key information in promotional items is a strategy that has worked numerous time in the past, and Passengers has an element of intrigue to capture the attention of moviegoers.
Featuring two ultra-likable leads in Pratt and Lawrence and eye-catching visuals, Passengers does have a lot going for it. At the same time, it's going to have to stand out in a crowd of new releases in late December. The film premieres alongside Assassin's Creed and Sing just five days after Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens (not to mention, three more movies debut on Christmas Day). With four high-profile 3D productions all competing for screens at the same time, there may not be enough money to go around and make each one a hit. Sony was obviously confident in Passengers' potential (green lighting it with a $120 million budget), but it is something of a wild card to close out the year.
Word-of-mouth is going to be critical for Passengers to succeed, and luckily there are reasons to be optimistic about its quality. Tyldum was nominated for Best Director for his work on Imitation Game, and Lawrence and Pratt are both talented actors more than capable of delivering great performances. The onus is on Sony to piece together a stellar campaign from now to December, and they're off to a good start right now. Passengers could easily be this year's The Martian or Gravity, a comparison that would bode extremely well for its prospects.
Source: Sony Pictures
- Passengers (2016) release date: Dec 21, 2016