The filmmaking duo Will Speck and Josh Gordon have set their next project. Distant, a science fiction comedy film, will hit theaters early next year. It is a joint venture between DreamWorks Pictures, Six Foot Turkey Productions, and Automatik Entertainment and was filmed in Budapest, Hungary, at the height of the pandemic in late 2020. Low Covid case numbers, rigid planning, and governmental assistance meant that Hungary’s studios were some of the first to welcome international film productions back in the summer of 2020.
Speck and Gordon are best known for their work directing films such as Blades of Glory and Office Christmas Party, as well as television work such as Netflix’s Flaked and Hulu’s Hit-Monkey. They are also working on the upcoming Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile adaptation. Perhaps their biggest triumph came with the greatest television hit of 2007, the GEICO Cavemen sitcom, which aired less than half of its 13-episode order before cancellation. Ah, what might have been.
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With that, let’s turn to the filmmakers’ next project. What do we know about Distant? Where will the sci-fi story take the audience? Who has been set for the cast? When and where will the film be released? And what else should audiences know about Will Speck and Josh Gordon’s Distant?
Distant: The Plot
Little is known about the plot at this point, but we do have a general idea of what we can expect. The story in Distant will center on an asteroid miner who crash-lands on an alien planet. While stuck there, he must navigate through rough terrain and unfamiliar surroundings. The miner will also reportedly come into conflict with his AI survival suit during the mission. Soon, he locates another survivor, a woman trapped in her escape pod who’s running out of oxygen. The miner then has to make his way through the terrain to the woman, all while facing his own depleting oxygen levels and alien creatures on the hunt.
That premise sounds like it will lend itself quite well to the comedic aspect of the film, with the miner encountering all sorts of unfamiliar challenges on his way to rescue the woman. We saw the trope of rivals forced to put aside their differences and work together in Speck and Gordon’s Blades of Glory, to great success. From this plot summary, it seems as though they are looking to accomplish the same here.
Additional plot information will likely be confirmed in the next few months leading up to the release.
Distant: The Cast
In the Heights and A Star is Born actor Anthony Ramos will be playing Andy Ramirez, the asteroid miner who crash-lands. Ramirez’s adversarial AI suit is voiced by Mr. Spock himself, Zachary Quinto. Aladdin breakout Naomi Scott is playing Naomi Calloway, the stranded young woman who Ramirez attempts to rescue.
The three will be joined by Kristofer Hivju, best known from Game of Thrones and The Fate of the Furious, as the character Dwayne. It is not yet known how Dwayne will factor into the story.
These are the confirmed castings that we have as of now; it is expected that additional casting announcements will follow in the coming months.
Distant will be released in theaters by Universal Pictures on January 27, 2023. That is the third date that has been assigned to the film. Distant was first scheduled to release on March 11, 2022. It was later pushed back to September 16, 2022, possibly to avoid competition with Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red, which opened on the same day in March. It was pushed to its current January 2023 release due to the September date also featuring heavy competition, like Lionsgate’s Are you There God, It’s Me, Margaret, and Sony’s The Woman King with Viola Davis.
As mentioned, Distant filmed in Budapest, Hungary, in the fall of 2020, around the same time that many studios in the US were just beginning to reopen after the Covid shutdowns. The Hungarian government worked with the film industry to safely resume production with health protocols in place.
Everything Else: What We Know
In addition to Distant, many big titles from the last few years had some or all of their production concentrated in Hungary. Denis Villeneuve’s Dune was filmed in the country in early 2019 and returned after the 2020 reopenings for additional scenes. Amazon’s Birds of Paradise was also shot in Budapest, with a break in production from March to August 2020.
The Halo live-action series was filmed in the country, as was Nicolas Cage’s meta The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Hungary offered the shuttered film industry an early chance to get back on its feet, which paid off. The country was on target to bounce back in 2021 from any lost revenue. The studios there demonstrated that production could resume safely in the Covid era and that entertainment and escapism could go on at a time when audiences need it the most.