'I personally think the movie is very good, I’m very proud of it. I’ll be curious to see if it holds up — the criticism and the movie'
Though it was once touted as one of 2016’s must-see blockbusters, Morten Tyldum’s Passengers ended up being a one-way ticket to the critical doghouse for stars Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence — and now Pratt is speaking up about the sci-fi romance’s scathing reviews and the controversy surrounding its plot.
“I was really caught off guard by that. It was definitely a lesson,” Pratt told Variety in an interview published Wednesday when asked about critiques against the film. “I personally think the movie is very good, I’m very proud of it. I’ll be curious to see if it holds up — the criticism and the movie.”
Before its release last year, several critics took issue with a key plot point in the film, which sees Pratt’s character — one of the thousands of people in suspended animation aboard a spaceship traversing a 120-year journey — fraught with loneliness, ultimately deciding to wake up a fellow passenger (Lawrence) without her consent. Entertainment Weekly critic Chris Nashawaty gave the film a D+ grade, calling its premise “profoundly creepy.” The Guardian‘s Andrew Culver said it was “an interstellar version of social-media stalking.”
Still, Pratt told said he considers the film a success.
“I’m proud of how the movie turned out and it did just fine to make money back for the studio,” he said, referencing Passengers‘ box office totals, which just crossed the $100 million domestic mark ($300 million worldwide) earlier this month on a $110 million production budget. “But the critical score was disproportionately negative compared to the CinemaScore [B]. It got the same rating on Rotten Tomatoes as Paul Blart: Mall Cop [33 percent], maybe worse.” (It was worse: just 31 percent of 224 critics aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes gave the Tyldum film a positive review.)
Last week, Passengers producer Neal Moritz also discussed the film’s reception during his guest spot on The Bill Simmons Podcast.
“That was a very valuable lesson to me. I loved that movie. It was one of my favorite experiences making a movie… I thought the script was one of the best scripts I’d ever read,” Moritz said. “There was a weird thing that happened. We’d done numerous test screenings… that were very encouraging to us… everything was looking great. Ten days before that movie came out, the first review came out… the reviewer said that we were justifying date rape, and I was like, what?”
He continued: “I thought back to all the screenings that we had and nobody had ever thought that, but it was weird. One guy said that and a lot of media picked up on that and it became the mantra that the film carried, and I thought it was a really unfair thing because I think it’s a beautiful film I couldn’t be more proud of.”