Project Hail Mary: Can a film with Ryan Gosling be another The Martian?

On June 3, director Christopher Miller posted the first shot from the set of Project Hail Mary on social media. Thus, he confirmed the beginning of its filming. We talk about what is known about this film and whether it has chances to become the new The Martian.

From the author of The Martian

Project Hail Mary is the third book by writer Andy Weir, who became famous for his debut novel The Martian. It was adapted in 2015 by Ridley Scott, with Matt Damon playing the main role. The film grossed over $600 million at the worldwide box office, received excellent reviews from audiences and critics, and received seven Academy Award nominations.

Frame from The Martian movie. Source: 20th Century Fox

After this success, Weir took on a new novel, Artemis. It was published in 2017 and told the life of courier and smuggler Jasmine Bashara, who finds herself involved in a conspiracy to take control of a city on the moon. Even before the novel was released, the rights to adapt it were bought by 20th Century Fox Studios. However, the movie has not yet taken place. This may be due to the fact that although Artemis was nominated for several literary awards, it was generally received worse than The Martian and failed to replicate its media impact.

Writer Andy Weir. Source: JEFF VESPA/GETTY IMAGES

Project Hail Mary, published in 2021, can be seen as a kind of Weyer’s work on errors. The writer is back to the formula that once brought him popularity. The main character of the novel is not devoid of a sense of humor researcher Ryland Grace, who finds himself alone in another star system, who has to use science to understand the situation and, no less, to save the whole world.

Project Hail Mary book cover.

But with similar themes, Project Hail Mary surely can’t be called a clone of The Martian. For example, Weir’s first two books had a linear plot. Here the writer added a little bit of detective work. The protagonist has amnesia and we join him in recalling past events to understand his position in space and what happened to Earth. Another important difference is that, unlike The Martian, the main character acquires a “partner” at some point. The theme of first contact and establishing cooperation with extraterrestrial intelligence plays a very important role in the novel, in fact being the heart of the novel.

All of these factors played a role. Project Hail Mary was well received by readers and critics and reached various bestseller lists for 2021 – 2022. The book has also been honored with recommendations from a number of celebrities, including Barack Obama and Bill Gates.

Ryan Gosling movie adaptation

As with Artemis, the screen rights to Project Hail Mary were bought by Hollywood before the book was even published. They were acquired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios for three million dollars in 2020. The production chair was taken by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, directors of 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie. Their filmography also includes an Oscar for the animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Curiously, Lord and Miller were previously listed for some time as directors of the failed film adaptation of Artemis. So they already have experience with Weyer’s books.

First shot from the set of the movie Project Hail Mary. Source: Christopher Miller

As for the script, it was written by Drew Goddard. He adapted the text of The Martian for the big screens. The main role went to Ryan Gosling. 

However, the start of filming was delayed. The deal to sell Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to Amazon may have influenced this. Thankfully, both the directors, screenwriter and Ryan Gosling agreed to wait. Amazon finally announced Project Hail Mary into production in the spring, at which time actress Sandra Hueller, who was nominated for an Oscar for Anatomy of a Fall, joined the film.

Ryan Gosling has already acted in space films

Of course, making predictions about a picture that hasn’t been shot yet is a rather thankless task. But at the moment it has the basic components that are necessary for future success. There’s a talented director, a screenwriter who has already successfully adapted Weir’s novel in the past, and Ryan Gosling, who does well in both comedic and dramatic roles. So Project Hail Mary is definitely worth following its future fate.

However, we should have some patience. The movie is scheduled to premiere on March 20, 2026. But if everything turns out well, the expectation should be worth it.