Yesterday, Fox invited me to a special sneak peek presentation of the film with actor Matt Damon and Director Ridley Scott. Normally, when I attend these events we only get to see 5-10 minute clips from different parts of the film. However, Ridley Scott decided to show us the first HOUR of the film! It was such a tease, because now I just want to see the remainder of the movie!!
In the film, Matt Damon plays a NASA astronaut who, along with his team (Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Michael Pena and others), has landed on the planet Mars and is conducting tests and experiments to see if the planet can support human life. However, a dangerous dust storm strikes forcing the crew to abort their mission and evacuate the planet. In the midst of their escape, Mark Watney (Damon) is hit by a large piece of metal and disappears. Presumed dead, his crew and the entire world mourn their loss. Later, we discover that Watney actually survived the storm and is now stranded alone on Mars, with no way of contacting anyone on Earth. Skilled with the knowledge of botany, engineering and science, Watney must improvise in order to survive and, hopefully, find a way back home. The film also stars comedienne Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Sebastian Stan, and recent Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Other than the fact that the cast is stellar, the film looks incredible and the story line is so fascinating to me. Damon does an amazing job as the lead role, who has a mix of snarky humor, wit, brains, and flat out adorableness.
"The Martian" is based off of a novel written by Andy Weir whom I got to meet and interview at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. He had a great story behind how "The Martian" became such a success which ultimately led to his movie deal. It all started with a blog/personal website (um... future KYLIEWOOD novel written and published by me?? There's hope! ) where the story lived as a serial over the course of several years. Eventually, his followers wanted him to repackage it in e-reader form. After his readers struggled to figure out how to download the free e-reader version, he then directly uploaded it to Amazon Kindle and listed it at its minimum selling price of $0.99. More people ended up paying the buck to download it in Kindle form than in the form that was free! As the book moved its way up the bestsellers list, it eventually fell in to the hands of an agent, which led to a publisher, which led to Fox obtaining movie rights. Weir, who at the time worked as a computer programmer, would find himself leaving his cubicle to go take calls for his big movie deal, then return to his cubicle to continue working. I asked him if he still has that job. He told me he was able to quit because he made enough money from "The Martian" deal!
While at JPL, I also got to speak to The Director of Planetary Science at NASA- Dr. Jim Green- who served as a consultant on the film to Director Ridley Scott AND I got to take a tour of the campus! Well, I actually already have seen the entire campus when I visited a few months ago for "Interstellar", but hey! NASA is ALWAYS fun.