Lone astronauts and at least one couple have gone lost in space in films like “Gravity,” but Sony believes it will super-charge the theme next Christmas with “Passengers,” starring two of the hottest stars in the movies — Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.
In Sony’s presentation at CinemaCon Tuesday night, Pratt admonished theater owners to buy lots of popcorn to go with big ticket sales. “Double up the order right around Christmas because you are going to sell a lot of it,” Pratt said, predicting big success for the film.
The footage had exhibitors loudly applauding and Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman enthusing, “Let’s see Netflix do that,” before promising “Passengers” is for “those of us who love movies in movie theaters.”
The excerpts from “Passengers” shown to movie exhibitors reveal Pratt and Lawrence as two unlikely space travelers, who have volunteered to make a 120-year journey to the Homestead Colony, a mission only possible because their bodies are suspended timelessly in “hibernation pods.” The journey goes awry when Pratt’s and then Lawrence’s pods open prematurely and they are stranded on the spaceship Avalon, still 90 years from their destination.
The two might at first unlikely pair. She is a writer, who wants to tell the story of space travel. He is a mechanic, who wants to get off an Earth that no longer seems to value a guy who works with his hands. Still, it’s hard to imagine the two young and beautiful space travelers wouldn’t have somehow discovered a certain allure to each other. But in case they didn’t get the possible extra-galactic possibilities, an android bartender makes a helpful suggestion.
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“You can’t get so hung up on where you want to be that you don’t make the most of where you are,” says the titanium drink slinger. Soon, Pratt and Lawrence are discovering the joys of being stranded — dining in style in the ship’s gigantic but empty dining room, swimming in the ship-board pool …before she finally climbs over a table top to get at her fellow Earthling.
Pratt and Lawrence’s chemistry was apparent as they bantered on stage with Rothman. The two poked fun at the lines they were supposed to read from the teleprompter. They assured the crowd, though, how proud they were of the movie.
All is not to be bliss for the space lovers, though, as gravity and other challenges beset their craft. Saving themselves, and the other 5,000 passengers who have not yet awoken from their pods, becomes the stars’ biggest challenge. The last we see of Pratt, he is being flung out into space — fate unknown.
Sony clearly hopes “Passengers” with Academy Award-nominated director Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”) at the helm, will mean big bank for the studio. Lawrence quipped to the theater owners that they should give half off for tickets. But Rothman was having none of that, demurring: “Like hell they are!”