Space is the next frontier in commercial travel and romantic dramas. And lucky for us, Passengers is a new action-adventure-drama that combines both. It's star-crossed lovers, literally. The film is the story of two people, Jim and Aurora, who are on a commercial trip through space traveling from Earth to Homestead II, an Earth-like planet colonized by humans. The passengers are supposed to be asleep in hibernation pods for the entire 120-year journey, but Jim and Aurora wake up 90 years early. But, while the timeline of their journey is explicitly clear, the timeline of the film isn't. Just when does Passengers take place?
Passengers doesn't ever really establish itself in a specific year, so it's impossible to know when the film actually takes place. However, we do have a few clues. Passengers is, believe it or not, grounded in reality, meaning it is a story that could, in theory, take place in the real world. The realistic premise establishes the film as taking place sometime in the near future, but the details of the space travel described in Passengers can help us pin it down even more. Commercial space travel is being championed by corporations around the world, like Virgin Galactic, right now.
Currently, commercial space travel is being planned as a simple orbit around the Earth, not a journey to another planet. That distinction tells us that Passengers probably takes place at least a good 100 years in the future. But then there's also the fact that Jim, Aurora, and about 5,000 other passengers have given up their lives on Earth to start a new one on Homestead II. For that many people to be willing to travel to the unknown like that shows that it's not a brand-new concept, but something they're comfortable with exploring. And, based on the sophisticated and glamorous sneak peeks we've received of the Spaceship Avalon, it looks like wherever they're going is pretty swanky (think Elysium).
Passengers establishes that for there to be an established society on Homestead II, others have already traveled there, set up some sort of system, and reported back to Earth, making the 120-year journey before Jim and Aurora. But in the end, it doesn't really matter if we know the exact date Jim and Aurora left Earth or woke up in their hibernation pods. All that matters is that Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are starring in it, and they're both funny, pretty, and lovable. Even in space.
Images: Columbia Pictures; jenniferlawurence/tumblr