Why is Passengers, a science-fiction romance that spent an eternity in development hell, finally going into production now? Because… money. The movie’s budget is an astonishing $150 million, a huge amount for a film which is essentially a two-hander and which will probably have as much emphasis on the lovey-dovey romantic stuff as it will on robots and rockets and assorted technological whirligigs. It’s already been taked about as “Gravity – with a love story.” Back then it was going to star Keanu Reeves and Rachel McAdams it would have only cost $35 million. Why the ballooning budget? Well it’ll star Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, for one thing.
So salaries play a big part. Following the record-breaking opening weekend for Jurassic World, Chris Pratt is now a certifiable star, more than a safe bet for a studio. Hence his pay for Passengers will be a nice $12 million. And as for Jennifer Lawrence? Well, this is J-Law we’re talking about, the Oscar-winning actress with both serious credibility and nerd adoration. Who doesn’t want to see her in a movie? (answer: the people who stayed away from Serena.) Anyway, remember how the Sony Hack revealed that she earned less than her male co-stars for American Hustle? Not this time. Lawrence is going to earn $20 million for Passengers, plus a hefty 30% of the movie’s profits. Sony’s Tom Rothman pushed for the budget to be reduced to under $100 million — and for a while it looked as if Passengers would once again return to Development Hell — but Rothman didn’t want to risk losing Lawrence and Pratt. “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,” reports Movieweb. “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 film will start production in July. Hollywood loves a good moral (stop laughing), and the moral from all of this, I suppose, is if you want to get your film out of Development Hell, hire stars who will guarantee you massive profits. Take note, Terry Gilliam.