Two of the principal players in the upcoming The Martian - director Ridley Scott and star Matt Damon - are arguably at a point in their careers where they need a comeback project to reaffirm why they're bona fide Hollywood A-listers. The former is coming off divisive films like Prometheus and The Counselor, while the latter has struggled to maintain box office consistency post-Bourne Ultimatum. With all that in mind, some may choose to view The Martian with caution, but there are signs that this might be the movie that reverses their fortunes.
Not only is the source material (a book by Andy Weir) very well-received, the screenplay comes from Drew Goddard (Daredevil, Cabin in the Woods) who is on a hot streak lately and deserves some benefit of the doubt. In addition, the film's panel presentation at this year's CinemaCon was considered a success, with many coming away impressed with what Scott had achieved. As the general public awaits the first trailer to see what the hype is all about, marketing is getting revved up with the first image of Damon as protagonist Mark Watney.
UPDATE: Empire has exclusively unveiled a couple of screenshots from The Martian, along with a behind the scenes photo showing Damon on the film's set. Check them out, below:
Without much to go by, it's possible both of the above screenshots are from the movie's second act, after Watney's plight has been established. For those not in the know, The Martian follows Watney, an astronaut who is accidentally abandoned by his crew on Mars (after they think he is dead), forcing him to find a way to survive (with no way to signal Earth for help). Based on Damon's forlorn expression (seen in the first of the above photos), he seems to be contemplating life on Mars long-term and if there's anything he can do to save himself.
We also get a taste of the other-worldly setting in Scott's big screen adaptation, though what we see of Mar's mountains and the overall landscape here surely doesn't do full justice to the filmmaker's take on the red planet. After all, if Scott's history with jaw-dropping visuals is anything to go by, The Martian should be a wondrous film to look at, if nothing else. Science fiction is the genre Scott is perhaps best known for, and he's always been successful in crafting immersive, interesting worlds for moviegoers to explore.
As far as the fall movie season is concerned, The Martian is definitely a wild card. "A Ridley Scott film" is not a credit that carries much clout with modern audiences, as the director's last couple of outings have been box office bombs as well as critical disappointments. Even with a stellar cast that includes the likes of Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, and Sean Bean, nothing is guaranteed - especially since the film will have a massive showdown against projects like Rocky spinoff Creed and Pixar's The Good Dinosaur (among others) as it opens over the Thanksgiving weekend. The buzz will have to be very positive for it to emerge as a hit.
And right now, there's certainly reason to be optimistic about its ultimate fate. The talent behind The Martian is more than capable of making a memorable movie, and sci-fi remains one of the most enduring genres in film. As the old saying goes, a great trailer can have a powerful effect in forming a consensus about a movie during its pre-release phase. If the teaser trailer is as powerful as the CinemaCon footage apparently was, then we could have a winner on our hands.
Plus, with a strong book to base their movie on and a great set of actors at their disposal, we'd have to think that Scott and Goddard were successful in delivering something worthwhile - especially if Fox is confident enough in it to put it out during a crowded holiday frame.
The Martian will be in theaters November 25, 2015.