Hear Thomas Newman's Atmospheric Score for 'Passengers' (Exclusive)

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt soar into space in the sci-fi thriller.
Jaimie Trueblood/Columbia Pictures

For the score for sci-fi thriller Passengers, Thomas Newman combines traditional orchestration with electronics.

The Sony Pictures film, which stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as passengers on a 120-year journey to another planet who wake up 90 years too soon, marks the 13-time Oscar nominee’s first sci-fi score (unless one counts his score for 2008’s animated feature, Wall-E). 

Newman primarily used piano and electronic instrumentation for the 96-minute score, but occasionally expanded to a full orchestra, utilizing more than 60 string players and 13 brass musicians.

On these exclusive cues, Newman explains how he interpreted space. For “The Starship Avalon,” the atmospheric electronic score gives way briefly to a full orchestra as the tension mounts before sinking back into spareness. “'The Starship Avalon’ is perpetually mobile,” Newman says. “The music is designed to give the impression of endless sleep and endless journey with a significant interruption that guides the story that follows. It's color and pulse followed by great size.”

On end title cue, “Sugarcoat the Galaxy,” an otherworldly voice calls across the Milky Way before sprightly synth dance beats that bounce as lightly as rain drops take over. For it, Newman turned to real space exploration. “‘Sugarcoat the Galaxy’ is inspired by color-inflected photographs of galaxies,” he says. “It likens sounds to spun sugar and confection, wrapping static harmonies inside energy and pace.”

Directed by The Imitation Game’s Morten Tyldum, Passengers opens Dec. 21. Newman’s score is available digitally through all major retailers and on CD via Amazon starting Friday. 

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