J-Law and Chris Pratt cash in big time as Sony Pictures moves ahead with Passengers

Jennifer Lawrence
Joe Seer/Shutterstock
Here’s the scenario: You and thousands of other earthlings are on a spaceship, bound for a distant world, when you are accidentally jarred out of cryosleep. It will be 90 years until you reach your destination and everyone else onboard will remain in suspended animation until you do. Do you A) Spend the rest of your natural life in utter boredom and despair, drifting through the cosmos completely alone or B) Wake someone else up and see what happens?

In the upcoming Sci-Fi Drama/Romance Passengers, Chris Pratt will portray Jim Preston, a character facing just such a dilemma. Ultimately, he chooses option B, and wakes up a young woman named Aurora, played by co-star Jennifer Lawrence.

The rarest of all Hollywood birds, Passengers is a big-budget blockbuster with (gasp!) an original script. Formerly a Weinstein & Co. property, Reese Witherspoon and Keanu Reeves were originally slated to star, but the once-modest budget ballooned quickly when two of Hollywood’s hottest properties signed on. The Hollywood Reporter indicates Pratt is set to make $12 million on the film, while Lawrence will earn $20 million, along with 30 percent of the film’s profits after it breaks even.

Not to mention that Morten Tyldum, who was nominated for an Oscar for his direction in the Imitation Game, is set to helm the film. Given his recent success, you can bet he won’t be cheap either.

As the film enters preproduction, it seems the stars may finally be aligning for a script whose fate once appeared to lie  — like many great ideas in Hollywood — in a state of perpetual limbo. The Jon Spaihts screenplay has started, stopped, and changed hands several times, but it is now one step closer to arriving on the big screen, and in a very big way.

Not without a few frayed nerves, however.

Famed for his frugality, Sony’s Motion Picture Chairman Tim Rothman was initially reluctant to greenlight the project. Rothman reportedly tried (unsuccessfully) to convince Tyldum to downsize its budget and was only sold on the risky property after other buyers emerged.

These days, the stakes are high for any original script, but they are higher still for one like Passengers, which is budgeted at a cool $150 million. Modern-day Hollywood is a finely-tuned machine, one whose favored fuel is a heady blend of sequels, reboots, and reimaginings. The more original scripts fail, the more execs will turn to retelling old tales and banking on built-in audiences.

We’ve got our fingers crossed for this one, as its success would likely mean more new, creative stories on the horizon.

While no one knows exactly what to expect from Passengers, a source offered THR the following elevator pitch: “Gravity with romance.”

Sounds like a winner to us! How about you?

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