Last month, Lainey mentioned that Brad Pitt had a space movie, Ad Astra, that was supposed to come out, only to get pulled from the release schedule. The movie was due on May 24, but there had been no trailer or publicity for it, so it wasn’t exactly surprising when Ad Astra got pulled out of the May lineup. Now, however, Ad Astra is back, this time with a trailer and a September release date. That means it could premiere at the fall festivals, but doesn’t have high hopes of being a strong Oscar contender. September release dates for movies like this are for hedging your bets. It says, “We think this COULD compete, but it probably won’t, so we’re not wasting prime real estate on it.”
Ad Astra doesn’t look terrible, but I’m also not sold on it after this first trailer. It’s directed by James Gray (Lost City of Z, The Immigrant), who is a VERY good director, so it looks good in the literal sense. No complaints about how it looks. And the cast is solid, including Liv Tyler, Tommy Lee Jones, and Donald Sutherland (is this a secret Space Cowboys sequel?!). Certainly looks like it should be prime awards bait. So why isn’t it? Well, it could be that Disney doesn’t want to spend a lot on an award campaign—Ad Astra is a Fox movie now under Disney’s auspices—or it could be the story. Pitt plays an astronaut whose father, also an astronaut, died on a mission. But wait! Maybe he didn’t die after all! He was doing dangerous experiments in space and now, maybe, those experiments are endangering the whole solar system! Only Brad Pitt can stop him!
When you say it out loud, Ad Astra sounds kind of dumb. It sounds like it should be a summer movie. But James Gray doesn’t make summer movies, so as silly as Ad Astra sounds, there must be more to it. Right? Well, I’m not sure, because the trailer isn’t selling me on much more than that. Ad Astra looks okay, I guess? I really like James Gray, and I want to see what a James Gray space movie is like. But there seems to be a lack of faith in Ad Astra, and this trailer is just not convincing. The part where Pitt falls off that giant space tower in the beginning is cool and scary. But then it starts in on “your dad might be destroying the solar system” and, I don’t know, that sounds kind of Michael Bay-ish. Like James Gray and this plot do not seem compatible. I feel a disconnect in this movie, and that September release date does nothing to dissuade me. September is neither summer movie season or award season. It’s an uncomfortable in-between for movies that don’t quite fit in either category. Something tells me Ad Astra is one of those in-betweeners. Something also tells me Brad Pitt won’t want to compete against himself, if he thinks he has a real Oscar shot with Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. Ad Astra might end up being, at least in part, a victim of award season strategizing. Any way you look at it, though, Ad Astra is not terribly promising.
Attached - Brad Pitt out in LA yestreday for a meeting.