Who says Adam McKay is done with fiction or comedies? He might have an Oscar for his The Big Short screenplay, and more nominations for Vice, but as long as the stakes remain life-and-death for America, he appears game about returning to the genre where he cut his teeth. And he’s even teaming with Jennifer Lawrence and Netflix to do it.
Breaking early Wednesday afternoon, Netflix revealed that McKay and Lawrence are turning to the streaming service for their next film, Don’t Look Up. The movie’s logline suggests Lawrence will play one of two low-level astronomers who embark on a media tour in order to convince a disbelieving public that an asteroid is headed toward our solar system and is about to obliterate Earth. Somehow, we imagine, it’ll be an uphill battle.
“I’m so thrilled to make this movie with Jen Lawrence,” McKay said in a statement. “She’s what folks in the 17th century used to call ‘a dynamite talent.’ And the fact that Netflix sees this movie as a worldwide comedy sets the bar high for me and my team in an exciting and motivating way.”
Netflix film chief Scott Stuber also addressed the major get for the streaming service:
“Adam has always had great timing when it comes to making smart, relevant, and irreverent films that depict our culture. Even if he somehow ends up predicting planet Earth’s imminent demise, we’re excited to add this to our slate before it all comes to an end.”
Having the ability to analyze McKay’s last two films, or even four if you count the cable news-bashing Anchorman 2 and the pre-Big Short skewering of Wall Street in The Other Guys, it is easy to speculate about the tone of a film in which scientists try to shake distracted Americans (or even folks around the world) out of apathy about global threat-level crises. After all, we’re living through one right now with over 30 years of warnings about climate change falling on deaf ears, particularly in the United States which just backed out of the Paris Climate agreement in the last few years.
Nevertheless, the fact that the movie is set-up at Netflix shows again the changing state of the industry. A major A-list director like McKay and A-list star like Lawrence should, in theory, find easy studio distribution when working in tandem. However, it is an original high-concept comedy premise that could come with an out-of-this-world price tag for a comedy, what with its asteroid potentially smacking Earth in the face. And like many original concepts, it seems far easier to get distribution (and eyeballs) on Netflix than it does in a movie theater.
It also could be the first non-franchise movie Lawrence will see released since 2017’s Red Sparrow. Her brief and obligatory appearance in 2019’s Dark Phoenix notwithstanding, the star who rode a meteor to global fame in 2012 with the one-two punch of The Hunger Games and her Oscar win for Silver Linings Playbook has kept a low profile as of late, albeit she has completed an untitled Lila Neugebauer movie in the last year. But with Don’t Look Up, she is going to be everywhere spreading the good word about our not-so-good oblivion.