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The Tomorrow War, the futuristic, sci-fi action film starring Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski and Sam Richardson, had a long road to its Wednesday night premiere in Los Angeles; the movie was originally set for a December 2020 theatrical release before it was pushed to July 2021 amid the pandemic and then acquired by Amazon in April for a streaming-only debut.
“It’s a movie that we wanted to go theatrically obviously, that was the intent and how we shot it — we shot it like a big movie, we didn’t hold back. I know it can play in theaters, I’ve seen in play in theaters; it’s a big, loud, exciting movie, but there’s a tradeoff,” director Chris McKay told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. “We’re in a world right now where [with] a big original sci-fi movie, there’s a bunch of known properties that are coming in for a landing in theaters weekend after weekend. To be able to be a filmmaker who can have a dialogue with audiences in 240 countries at one time… that’s also a very exciting proposition and I feel very lucky.”
Pratt added that the movie’s uncertain status was “just like everyone else’s journey the past 18 months, which is just day by day. Make the best choices for yourself in that moment, try to be safe, try to be reasonable, have to compromise, and get going but stick to what you’re passionate about if you can. That’s really what it came down to.”
The film, which follows the Guardians of the Galaxy star as a science teacher who is sent 30 years into the future to fight an alien army, marks Pratt’s first as an executive producer.
“I was looking to do something original — the trouble with doing something original is oftentimes they’re smaller budgets because the studio doesn’t want to take a risk on something that doesn’t have reach like a Marvel movie or a Jurassic World movie or something based on a toy — my bread and butter,” Pratt joked. “But this script was so good, it had everything and it was also big. I read it, and I read tons of stuff that’s about aliens and time travel and soldiers and most of it sucks, and then I read this and was like, ‘Oh my god, this is freaking great, let’s set it up.’ And we set it up and got to make it. How lucky am I that I get to get something made that probably wouldn’t have been made without me?”
After years of making big-budget flicks, “it’s been a while since I felt like I had so much to learn,” Pratt said of his EP turn. “On this one I sure did. I jumped in head-first. You’ve got to get in much earlier, stay much longer, be responsible for creative decisions outside of just your own performance; I loved it.”
Fellow stars Betty Gilpin, J.K. Simmons, Edwin Hodge, Richardson and Strahovski (along with her baby bump) also walked the Covid-safe carpet at the premiere, held at L.A. soccer stadium Banc of California, breaking down the film’s rigorous military training and the best way to watch at home.
“If you have the means or ability to give yourself surround sound, do that. As big a screen as you can. Pants optional,” recommended Richardson. Amazon execs Jen Salke, Ukonwa Ojo and Latasha Gillespie and Skydance’s David Ellison were also in attendance, as Salke told THR about the film’s appeal to the streamer, which it picked up from Paramount for a reported $200 million.
“Not knowing where we’d sit with Covid this summer, we felt it was a good opportunity to have a huge global cultural opportunity for the film,” Salke said. “It’s the best of both worlds, we’ll have a big movie for audiences all over the world to love right now. There’s still a lot of places in the world that are not coming out of Covid as quickly as we all are, especially our friends and colleagues in Europe and India and Brazil. Once the movie is out I know Chris and the producers and everyone will feel the power of that because it’s hugely infectious.”
Inside the stadium, 1,000 fans, including 350 L.A.-area teachers and many local military service members, filled the seats to watch on a giant screen set up on the field. Pratt ran out ahead of the film to announce, “It is finally Tomorrow, today!,” teasing, “scary scary aliens, I hope you already went to the bathroom because it will make you crap your pants. That’s a promise!”
The Tomorrow War starts streaming on Amazon Friday.
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