After being stuck in development hell (or, perhaps more appropriately, development cryo-stasis) for a very, very long time, Sony Pictures has finally given a greenlight to Jon Spaihts' sci-fi romance, Passengers. As has been rumored for some time, The Imitation Game's Morten Tyldum is onboard to direct, and the film will be headlined by Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the pair will be well-compensated for their work:
...Thanks to a deal that tied his remuneration to the success of Jurassic World, which broke box-office records with a $524.1 million global opening over the June 12 weekend, Pratt’s fee has jumped from $10 million to $12 million. Lawrence, an Oscar winner and considered a top star, is getting an exceptional $20 million against 30 percent of the profit after the movie breaks even, say sources. Sony declined to comment.
Those sizable payouts are part of the film's $150m budget, which was apparently the source for some concern at Sony. But from where I'm standing, that's money well spent: Spaihts' script - which is being pitched to the press as "Gravity with romance" - has blockbuster written all over it. It's funny, thrilling, romantic, and contains several set-pieces that have the potential to be legitimately jaw-dropping. Combined with the current star power of Pratt and Lawrence, this thing feels like a slam dunk (previous incarnations of the project, which would have featured Keanu Reeves opposite Reese Witherspoon or Rachel McAdams, feel less slam dunk-y).
The real variable here is Tyldum. Dude's going to have to deliver some serious spectacle; this is easily the biggest, most elaborate project he's ever handled. Frequent readers may recall that I'm not a raving Tyldum fan, but I'm genuinely rooting for him on this one. I loved the Passengers script, and would love to see it knocked out of the park.
Passengers begins shooting in September. Stay tuned for more on this one as it develops.