‘Passengers’: The Long, Strange Trip to the Big Screen

The sci-fi space romance, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, has been trying to get off the launchpad for nine years and at one time or another attracted the interest of Keanu Reeves, Reese Witherspoon, Rachel McAdams and Emily Blunt.
Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Passengers’ long odyssey to the big screen finally ends today when the sci-fi space adventure opens in North American theaters.

The movie — starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt — began its life almost a decade ago as an independent project shopped by Keanu Reeves’ production outfit, Company Films. Yet it found itself sitting on the launchpad for years as one company after another unsuccessfully tried to find the right kind of rocket fuel.

Sci-fi films are already tricky propositions for studios, and there was also the matter of revolving actors: Reeves was long set to star, first opposite Reese Witherspoon then Rachel McAdams (Emily Blunt also briefly circled the film). Passengers even had a release date from The Weinstein Co., but that came and went. The turning point was when Sony picked up rights to the movie exactly two years ago, and teamed two of Hollywood’s most desirable stars — Lawrence and Pratt. But another hurdle emerged when Lawrence’s team wanted $20 million after learning via the Sony hack that she had made less than her male co-stars in American Hustle.

Passengers stars Pratt as a colonist aboard a…