EXCLUSIVE: In its second major material buy this week, Sony Pictures emerged from a competitive situation with the rights to Passengers, the script by Doctor Strange scribe Jon Spaihts that is a big science fiction love story, set in deep space. Production president Michael De Luca oversaw the deal and Neal Moritz and Ori Marmur will produce through the Original Film banner along Michael Maher for Start Media and Stephen Hamel of Company Films.
Sony, which has been going through an agonizing period since computers at the corporation were hacked and documents released, has forged ahead. Earlier this week, the studio acquired the hotly contested rights to turn the NYPD corruption documentary The Seven Five into a narrative feature. Passengers takes place on a spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he eventually decides to wake up a second passenger, marking the beginning of what becomes a unique love story. Spaihts’ scripting credits include Prometheus, The Mummy reboot and Doctor Strange, the latter of which has Benedict Cumberbatch firmly set to star for Marvel.
Passengers has created a frenzy before. It once had Keanu Reeves and Rachel McAdams attached along with Game Of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire helmer Brian Kirk. Before that, Reese Witherspoon had been expected to play the female lead, and The Weinstein Company bought in a big deal at 2012 Cannes. All the while, Moritz had been tracking it and when it became free, he and De Luca were all over it. They are starting from scratch with the elements as none of those stars or the filmmaker is attached now.
Sony confirmed the deal.
“I am thrilled to be working with Neal and Sony,” Maher said in a statement. “The project has found the best possible studio to bring it to life.”