The Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending is the next up on our list of big sci-fi movies this year, and after being pushed back and delayed a couple of times, it finally drops worldwide next week, on February 6. To mark the occasion, Warner Bros. has unleashed a massive gallery of images, and we mean massive, like if you string all of these together and fan through them like a flipbook, you’ll probably see a pretty substantial chunk of the movie. While we’re stoked to see what madness the masterminds behind The Matrix have in store for us, the film had a secret premiere at Sundance last night, and lets just say it didn’t get the warmest of welcomes.
Ranging from the streets of Chicago to the farthest galaxies you can imagine, Jupiter Ascending tells the story of Jupiter (Mila Kunis), a lowly cleaning woman with big dreams, but a knack for getting shit on by life. She still dreams nightly of the stars, but scrubs rich people’s toilets for a living. When Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically modified, ex-military, albino wolf hybrid (yep) shows up, she discovers that she has the exact same DNA as the Queen of the Universe, which puts her in line to inherit, well, the universe. As with any sudden transfer of power, there are those who oppose it, and things get a wee bit out of hand.
These images show just about everything. There are behind-the-scenes pics of Andy and Lana Wachoswki, Tatum and Kunis are obviously fairly prominent faces, as is Eddie Redmayne’s wingnut looking villain, Balem. You get action shots, lots of ominous starring, and a couple of nice views of that winged reptile creature we’ve seen pop up a time or two in trailers. There have been a lot of jokes about how Sean Bean is going to die in this movie, and those ears on Gugu Mbatha-Raw are something to behold (her character is also named Famulus, so there’s that).
You don’t normally associate big genre epics like Jupiter Ascending with the low-key indie fare at Sundance, but when audiences sat down for the secret screening last night and received 3D glasses, that’s exactly what they got. And it didn’t go over well. It didn’t go over at all. The invite-only event took place in a 300-seat auditorium, and there were reportedly tons of empty seats. On Twitter last night one film critic noted that his entire row consisted of him and one other person.
That isn’t exactly what WB was looking for, but even worse, many of the people who did attend left before the movie ended, and of those who did stay, most didn’t have kind remarks. There were reports of sneering and general mockery, and lots of snide, negative things were said about the $170 million dollar film.
Not everyone hated it, however. Screenwriter Neville Kiser saw the film and seemed to have a decent time. He also remarked on the strange circumstances surrounding the screening, saying:
I actually liked it. But the Sundance context is weird. There were so many people in the audience scoffing and sneering. They are forgetting they are watching a movie targeted primarily to teenage boys. I’m sure those 15-year-old boys, and hopefully girls, will like it.
Like I said, it is a strange place to debut this movie. Not only is it kind of counter to the spirit and aesthetic of the festival, you also have to remember that most of these people have spent the last week watching dozens and dozens of movies and are likely way burned out by this point. Maybe that’s why the studio did this, because so many critics and film people are at Sundance right now, perhaps they wanted to get it in front of influential eyes early, though if that was the strategy it looks like it backfired.
Regardless, we’re still pretty pumped up about Jupiter Ascending, and we’ll be at the head of the line come February 6.