Ridley Scott’s latest science (emphasis on science) fiction adventure, The Martian, blasted off into theaters this past weekend, earning a healthy sum of money, and taking audiences on a harrowing survival adventure more than 100 million miles away from Earth. One of the most unexpected elements of the film (at least for those who haven’t read the book) is the humor, though the film almost arrived without one of its funniest inside jokes.
Just a heads up, if you haven’t seen The Martian yet, there will be SPOILERS beyond this point. You’ve been warned.
The Martian is based on the novel of the same name by Andy Weir. The book is the source of the film’s sense of humor, but in a recent Q&A with HitfFx, the writer revealed how Ridley Scott almost cut the Lord of the Rings bit from the film entirely. He said:
What’s funny is that’s all pure coincidence ’cause the whole Project Elrond thing was in the book. It's not like that was added for the movie cause they had Sean Bean or anything. Ridley was actually like, ‘Well, this is stupid. Get rid of that. Call it something else. Pick some other sci-fi or fantasy reference.’ And one of the Fox execs was like, ‘No. That is funny. You keep that in.’
Those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet (you should probably stop reading this and go to the theater, it’s pretty damn great), probably figured from Weir’s statement that Sean Bean is in The Martian and is part of something called "Project Elrond," an obvious reference to the Council of Elrond from Lord of the Rings. That part is in the book and is fun enough, but it takes on a whole new dimension because of Bean’s presence, as he was also there in Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings adaptations.
I get Ridley Scott’s impulse to want to alter that moment, fearing it might be a bit too on the nose, but fortunately that unnamed Fox executive was there, because it’s one of the funnier pieces in the finished movie. Hell, it’s enough to make you wonder if they cast Sean Bean purely for that scene.
After premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Martian opened to a better than expected box office reception. The more generous of the advance predictions guessed that it could earn as much as $46 million over it’s opening weekend, but with strong reviews and positive word of mouth, it took in almost $55 million, almost matching the similarly themed Gravity’s total in a similar release window a few years back. With a global total of $98 million, it’s well on its way to earning back its $108 million budget.
If you haven’t seen The Martian yet, you probably should, it’s a total blast. And to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger from another awesome space movie, you should, "Get your ass to Mars."