ⓘ Passengers (2016 film)

Passengers (2016 film)

ⓘ Passengers (2016 film)

Passengers is a 2016 American science fiction romance film set in 2343 directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Jon Spaihts. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as Aurora Lane and Jim Preston, respectively, with Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne in supporting roles. The plot depicts two people who are awakened ninety years too early from an induced hibernation on a spaceship, transporting thousands of passengers, travelling to a colony on a planet in a star system 60 light years from Earth.

The film was originally written in 2007 by Spaihts but was kept in development hell, with multiple actors attached over the years. In December 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment picked up the films rights, with Tyldum attached to direct. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence were cast as the two leads in February 2015. The film was produced by Village Roadshow Pictures, Start Motion Pictures, Original Film, LStar Capital, Wanda Pictures and Company Films. Principal photography took place at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Atlanta, Georgia from September 2015 to February 2016. It is the last film from Columbia Pictures to have the involvement of Village Roadshow Pictures.

Passengers premiered at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles on December 14, 2016 and was released theatrically in the United States on December 21, 2016, in 2D and RealD 3D by Columbia Pictures. The film received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for Lawrence and Pratts performances, as well as the musical score, visual style and production values, though it was criticized for its plot and characters. It grossed $303 million worldwide, becoming the third-biggest original live-action U.S. release of 2016. The film received two nominations for Best Original Score and Best Production Design at the 89th Academy Awards.


1. Plot

The Avalon, a sleeper ship transporting 5.000 colonists and 258 crew members in hibernation pods, is on course to the planet Homestead II, a journey lasting 120 years. Thirty years into the journey, an asteroid collision damages the ship and causes its computer to awaken one passenger, mechanical engineer James "Jim" Preston Chris Pratt, 90 years too early.

After a year of isolation, with only an android barman named Arthur Michael Sheen for company, Jim grows despondent and contemplates suicide until he notices a beautiful young woman named Aurora Lane Jennifer Lawrence inside her pod. Jim views Auroras video file and is smitten with her. After struggling with the morality of prematurely reviving Aurora for companionship, therein robbing her of her future/planned life, he awakens her, letting her believe that her pod also malfunctioned. Jim asks Arthur to keep the secret that he woke her up until Jim himself has told her. Aurora, devastated at having to live out her life on the ship, unsuccessfully attempts to re-enter hibernation. Resigned to the situation, Aurora, a journalist, begins writing a book about her experience.

Over the next year, Jim and Aurora grow closer, eventually falling in love. Jim intends to propose to Aurora, but Arthur inadvertently reveals the truth to her when she says there are "no secrets" between her and Jim. Aurora, anguished, alternately berates, shuns, and physically attacks Jim. She furiously rejects Jims pleas for forgiveness, and she avoids any contact with him.

Soon after, another pod failure awakens Gus Mancuso Laurence Fishburne, Chief Deck Officer. He discovers multiple failures throughout the ships systems. If not repaired, the ship will continue suffering critical system failures and the mission may fail. Gus attempts to repair the ship with Jim and Auroras help but he soon falls critically ill, having been physically weakened by his malfunctioning pod. The Autodoc, the ships automated medical diagnostics and treatment pod, reveals that Gus has a prognosis of only hours to live. Before dying, Gus gives Jim and Aurora his ID badge to access crew-only areas and to repair the ship.

Jim and Aurora discover a series of hull breaches from the asteroid collision two years earlier. The computer module administering the fusion reactor powering the ship has been critically damaged, causing the ships cascading malfunctions as all other systems divert power towards the reactor. Jim and Aurora replace the damaged module. When the computer fails to vent the reactor to extinguish a massive reactor fire, Jim has to vent it by opening the vent hatch from the ships exterior while Aurora assists from inside. She admits being terrified of losing Jim and being left alone. After venting the reactor, Jims tether snaps, and his damaged spacesuit loses oxygen; Aurora retrieves Jim, but has to resuscitate him in the Autodoc.

Afterwards, Jim learns that the Autodoc can function as a makeshift hibernation pod for one person. He can put Aurora back in hibernation for the remainder of the voyage. Realizing that she will never see Jim again, Aurora chooses to remain awake with Jim, and he presents her with the ring he had made, which she accepts.

Eighty-eight years later, the ships crew is awakened on schedule, shortly before arrival at Homestead II. In the ships grand concourse area they discover a huge tree, lots of trailing vines and vegetation, birds flying, and a cabin. Auroras voice-over is reading her story, describing the wonderful life she and Jim had together on the Avalon.


2. Cast

  • Julee Cerda and Nazanin Boniadi as hologram instructors
  • Chris Pratt as Jim Preston, a mechanical engineer
  • Michael Sheen as Arthur, an android bartender on the Avalon
  • Jennifer Lawrence as Aurora Lane, a journalist and writer
  • Andy Garcia as Captain Norris, the commanding officer of the Avalon
  • Laurence Fishburne as Gus Mancuso, the chief deck officer
  • Aurora Perrineau as Celeste, Auroras best friend

Emma Clarke, Chris Edgerly, Matt Corboy, Fred Melamed, and screenwriter Jon Spaihts appear as the voices of the Avalon, InfoMat, video game, observatory, and Autodoc respectively.


3.1. Production Development

The original script for Passengers was written by Jon Spaihts in 2007 and had been in development hell for years. In this original script, character Auroras original surname was Dunn. At one point, the film was set to star Keanu Reeves and Emily Blunt. The films production budget was a relatively low $35 million, and at various points in its development, actors attached to it included Reeves, Reese Witherspoon, and Rachel McAdams. Brian Kirk was originally scheduled to make his feature directorial debut with the film, with Reeves in the lead. On December 5, 2014, it was announced that Sony Pictures Entertainment had won the rights to the film. In early 2015, Morten Tyldum was chosen to direct the film. Tyldum had always wanted to do a massive sci-fi action movie, but also stressed the importance of a character-driven sci-fi film, rather than a cold and distant one.

Metro described its plot as bearing a strong resemblance to the EC Comics story "50 Girls 50" by Al Williamson, first published in the July–August 1953 issue of Weird Science, in which two passengers of a colony spaceship are awakened from hibernation early and fall in love.

The cast – Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne – were announced between February 2015 and January 2016. Lawrence was paid $20 million against 30% of the profit after the movie breaks even, and Pratt was paid $12 million.


3.2. Production Filming

Principal photography for the film began on September 15, 2015 at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. Filming occasionally took place for full days, with a bulk of the shooting involving the two leads only. Rodrigo Prieto was cinematographer, and Maryann Brandon was film editor. Filming wrapped on February 12, 2016.


4. Music

Thomas Newman composed the musical score for Passengers. Spaihts said that he wrote Passengers while listening to Newmans previous scores. Also, Imagine Dragons recorded a song "Levitate" for the films soundtrack. It was released on November 29, 2016. The Chinese theme song for the film is "Light Years Away" composed by G.E.M.


5. Release

In August 2015, Sony Pictures Entertainment set the films release date for December 21, 2016, in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. The film was concurrently released in 3D and RealD 3D formats, with the international rollout running through Christmas and the New Year, to January 12, 2017.


At CinemaCon 2016, Passengers was featured by Sony Pictures chairman Thomas Rothman, alongside Lawrence and Pratt during Sonys presentation. A teaser trailer of unfinished footage was presented afterwards. The first official images of the film were released on August 12, 2016.

Home media

Passengers was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 14, 2017, and was made available on Digital HD from Amazon Video and iTunes on March 7, 2017. On March 14, 2017, Passengers: Awakening, a virtual reality experience based on the film launched for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.


6.1. Reception Box office

Passengers grossed $101 million in the United States and Canada and $203.1 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $303.1 million, against a net production budget of $110 million. It was the second-highest grossing original live-action Hollywood release of 2016, after La Land.

Passengers opened alongside Sing and Assassins Creed, and was initially expected to gross around $50 million from 3.478 theaters over its first six days of release, although the studio was projecting a more conservative $35 million debut. After making $1.2 million from Tuesday night previews and $4.1 million on its first day, projections for the six-day opening were lowered to $27 million. It went on to gross $15.1 million in its opening weekend a six-day total of $30 million, finishing third at the box office behind Rogue One and Sing. It became the third-biggest original live-action domestic release of 2016 behind Central Intelligence $126 million and La Land $149 million.


6.2. Reception Critical response

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 30% of 266 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review and an average rating of 4.94/10. The websites critical consensus reads: Passengers proves Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence work well together – and that even their chemistry isnt enough to overcome a fatally flawed story." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 41 out of 100, based on 48 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a 77% overall positive score.

Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle gave the film 3 out of 4 stars. He stated: "despite the confinement and the limited cast, Passengers has moments of intense drama that take the actors to places of extreme feeling." James Dyer of Empire gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, stating that the film is "as surprisingly traditional as it is undeniably effective". He described the film as Titanic amongst the stars" and "a touching, heartfelt tale of loss and love for the Gravity generation". Peter Keough of The Boston Globe gave the film 2.5 out of 4 stars, stating: "perhaps as a well-written play for a cast of three, Passengers might have been first class. Instead, its just another mediocre thrill ride." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called the film an "appealing sci-fi romance", but criticized the final act as an "anticlimax". He gave the film 3 out of 5 stars.

Rebecca Hawkes of The Telegraph described the film as not a romance, but "a creepy ode to manipulation", describing the action as a "central act of violence" that is softened and justified. Andrew Pulver of The Guardian called it an "interstellar version of social-media stalking" with "a fantastically creepy start" that, contrary to romantic comedies that manage to "plane down" the nastiness of stalking tactics, presents them in a way where "its gruesomely inescapable". Alissa Wilkinson of Vox called it "a fantasy of Stockholm syndrome, in which the captured eventually identifies with and even loves the captor" and "a really disturbing wish fulfillment fantasy".

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