Sony Pictures has moved quickly to give the green light to their sci-fi thriller Passengers, starring arguably the two biggest Hollywood stars, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. The Hollywood Reporter reveals that, following the Earth-shattering success of Jurassic World, Chris Pratt's price has jumped from $10 million to $12 million, while Jennifer Lawrence is pulling in a whopping $20 million against 30% of the profits after the movie breaks even. Production is scheduled to begin in September on a $150 million budget.
The original screenplay by Jon Spaihts (Doctor Strange, Untitled Mummy Reboot) has been circulating around Hollywood for years, centering on a passenger who is one of several people on an interstellar journey that will take nearly a century to complete. Chris Pratt plays a man who wakes up 90 years too early, leading him to awaken a female passenger (Jennifer Lawrence) so he doesn't die alone. They both discover a malfunction on the ship that could put all of their lives at risk. The project had previously been set up at The Weinstein Company with Keanu Reeves and Reese Witherspoon set to star, where it was budgeted at just $35 million. Warner Bros. was also in talks to pick up the project and make it for $65 million.
Sony giving this project the green light came after plenty of behind-the-scenes drama. New Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman, who is notoriously thrifty, reportedly met with director Morten Tyldum earlier this month, in an effort to bring the budget down from $150 million to $90 million, which was met with resistance. Tom Rothman was contemplating putting the project into turnaround, which would allow studios such as Warner Bros. and Universal, who were interested in the project to pick it up. Jeffrey Robinov offered to make the film through his Studio 8 company, which is partially owned by Sony but has outside financial backing. Tom Rothman reportedly told the filmmakers they could take the project wherever they liked, but when they chose Studio 8, he changed his mind and greenlit the project.
While the cost-efficient Tom Rothman didn't want to set a big-budget precedent with the project, he also didn't want to turn down a project with two of Hollywood's biggest bankable stars. Sources claim that the studio head secured financing with partners Village Roadshow and LStar to cover as much as 75% of the production budget. The executive also could have sat on the project until the stars moved on to something else, but that would have drawn the ire of three top talent agencies, Jennifer Lawrence's CAA, Chris Pratt's UTA and Morten Tyldum's WME. Do you think Sony made the right move by giving the green light to Passengers?