Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, two of the biggest and most well-liked movie stars in the world right now, have been attached to a sci-fi movie called Passengers for a while. The movie is about a deep space voyage in which a passenger wakes up early and then wakes up a fellow passenger to keep him company since everyone else is in suspended animation for the voyage. It’s described as “Gravity with romance”, which is not an inspiring description—Lainey suspects this could be a stinker, which I blame on that stupid logline—and there has been considerable behind the scenes wrangling at Sony, which has not worked out well for anyone to date.
The issue surrounding the film is the budget, which new Sony chief and famously frugal Tom Rothman would like to pare down from its current $150 million price tag. The problem? Lawrence and Pratt command huge salaries. JLaw is getting a $20 million paycheck plus a whopping 30% back-end deal, and Pratt’s quote just went up following the success of Jurassic World, from $10 million to $12. Director, or possible salt supplement, Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) is also due a seven-figure payday.
These are huge salary figures, firmly A-list prices, but given the popularity and proven box office clout of both Lawrence and Pratt, Sony pretty much has to pay up. Another option would be to put the project in turnaround, allowing another studio to pick it up. But then Rothman would be the guy who passed on a space movie—something audiences will still see in theaters—with two of the biggest stars on the planet. If it’s a hit, he’d look like an idiot. Then again, he could be the guy who pays out these huge deals only to watch the movie tank. You never know. But right now, on paper, you don’t get a much surer bet than Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt co-starring in a space movie. You have to roll the dice.
(Lainey: despite the title, it’s not Jennifer Lawrence.)