There are several high-profile films opening in December, and one of the more interesting ones is Passengers, a sci-fi drama from The Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum. It tells the story of James and Aurora, two passengers aboard a spaceship (played by Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence) who awake from their hibernation pods 90 years before the end of their journey due to a malfunction. They have to make the best of this unfortunate situation, before learning that the entire ship is in danger. James and Aurora task themselves with saving the others so they reach their destination safely.
Sony has positioned Passengers as their big holiday release, but their marketing efforts have been somewhat restrained. Outside of a theatrical trailer and some still images, not much from the film has been released. With its release date a little more than a month away, the studio seems to be revving up the advertising campaign. A clip (hat tip EW) featuring Lawrence has now been released online. You can watch it above.
In it, Aurora goes for a dip in the Avalon‘s swimming pool. While she’s doing laps, the ship suffers a gravity failure and the water begins to rise out of the pool. Tensions run high as Aurora is forced to escape the giant bubble she’s trapped in, being hit with waves and struggling in her zero-g environment. The musical score by Thomas Newman establishes an unsettling tone. The prospect of drowning is a nightmarish scenario for anybody, so this scene will make anyone feel a little uneasy.
Passengers represents a major step up for Tyldum in terms of scale. While The Imitation Game was budgeted at just $14 million, Passengers cost $120 million to make. With that price tag, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the film is visually-stunning and will likely be a treat to see up on the big screen. The design of the ship is very eye-catching, which is a good sign since most of the movie will take place on it. Working in the location of space also allows filmmakers to play around with the rules of physics. Gravity-free sequences are obviously nothing new by now, but Tyldum is still doing something interesting by placing a set piece in the pool.
Based on its pedigree, one would have thought that Passengers could be an awards contender in the mold of Gravity or The Martian – especially after it made a sizable impression at CinemaCon back in April. However, any Oscar buzz surrounding the project seems to have died down now, and at best it’s become a fringe player whose most realistic chance at nominations comes in the technical categories. That may be disappointing for Sony, but there’s still a good chance Passengers ends up having a successful run at the box office. Pratt and Lawrence are two of the biggest stars in the industry today, and the premise is quite fascinating. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will present a sizable hurdle to clear, so many will be curious to see how Passengers performs.