Andrew Weir’s “The Martian” was marketed as being like Cast Away meets Apollo 13. But the movie version is certainly going to be compared to Gravity. The premise of the novel sees an astronaut stranded alone on Mars as he struggles to survive until a NASA rescue mission arrives. Since he’s at least on ground, we can say it has a bit of Moon or even better Robinson Crusoe on Mars. But The Martian won’t have a monkey, and also Gravity is such a big deal after raking in so much money and Oscars that 20th Century Fox will be hoping for something more along the lines of Alfonso Cuaron’s outer space disaster thriller, especially if it’s even half as successful.
Fortunately, two new valuable assets have joined the mission. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ridley Scott is set to return to space for the adaptation, which was scripted by Drew Goddard (Cloverfield). Goddard was also supposed to direct, but he’s too tied up with helming Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man spin-off The Sinister Six. So Scott will take over, and not even those disappointed with Prometheus can deny this is a terrific fit. On board with Scott is confirmed star Matt Damon. And this time he’s all rock-marooned without his Gerry pal Casey Affleck. Scott will also produce the movie along with Simon Kinberg (Elysium) and Aditya Sood (Let’s Be Cops).
In the novel, Damon’s character is left behind when a dust storm causes the evacuation of his ship, and the rest of the crew thinks he’s dead. I’d like to assume the studio will call for something a lot more catastrophic, though, akin to the edge-of-your-seat opening sequence from Gravity. Maybe Damon’s mission-mates are all killed in the storm. And maybe one of them can be played by Damon’s buddy George Clooney. After that, the plot does seem a little more like Cast Away on the Red Planet. The question is, will he have a Wilson equivalent. Every single-character drama like this has to have someone or something for that character to talk to. In Gravity, Ryan had the guy in Greenland. Moon had the computer GERTY. A few movies just have a dog.
We can assume this will be Scott’s next project, especially if we expect that Prometheus sequel to never happen. His latest movie, the Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings, is due this December, rounding out a year heavy on religious movies.