The week between Christmas and New Year’s seems to be slow for everyone, including trailers. We’re cheating a little bit for this Trailer of the Week by highlighting a teaser that quietly dropped last week. Netflix has given audiences a twenty-four second look at their upcoming Adam Sandler-led Spaceman. Unlike Sandler’s previous collaborations with Netflix, Spaceman looks to make use of his serious acting chops. Even with this brief glimpse of the film, Spaceman seems to be a far cry from the likes of Hubie Halloween and the Murder Mystery movies.
“Just like you, I fled my planet,” says an ethereal voiceover that certainly does not belong to Sandler. Keen listeners will recognize the voice as Paul Dano. His role in the film is that of an extraterrestrial spider who has traveled “through galaxies, through black holes, [and] through time.” Ominously, Hanuš (the extraterrestrial spider) says that all of these travels were worth it because it brought him to “you.” It’s at this moment that the teaser cuts to a close-up of Jakub (Sandler) in a full space suit. From the looks of things, Jakub seems to be on Earth. He’s wading through a river surrounded by lush green trees, but he’s doing so cautiously. Which begs the question: what is Jakub afraid of?
Spaceman is based on Spaceman of Bohemia, the 2017 science fiction novel written by Jaroslav Kalfař. The novel is inspired by, and dedicated to, Kalfař’s grandfather. When Kalfař was young, there was a brief moment in time when his grandfather lost him in the woods. He was struck by the utter silence, darkness, and loneliness he experienced. Kalfař was found only two minutes later, but that memory shaped the narrative of Spaceman of Bohemia.
Kalfař’s writing experience began in an unlikely place: X-Files fanfiction. His father had quite the collection of horror and sci-fi VHS tapes that captured Kalfař at a young age. He went on to get an MFA from New York University which is where the idea for Spaceman of Bohemia began as a short story. Kalfař wanted to blend his fascination with isolation and loneliness with political and saw an astronaut as the perfect vehicle to explore those themes. It was in Jonathan Foer‘s class that Kalfař changed the astronaut’s nationality to Czech, mirroring Kalfař himself, and the story grew.
Perhaps one of the most enticing facets of Spaceman is the director. Johan Renck is a Swedish director who started off working on music videos, but he’s likely better known for the Emmy-winning HBO series, Chernobyl. Spaceman will be Renck’s first foray into feature-length films since 2008 and is his first project since finishing Chernobyl. Those who don’t mind being spoiled can read the readily available synopsis of Spaceman of Bohemia online and get a good idea of what Netflix’s version will be like. Those of us who prefer to live in mystery until seeing the film can infer a few things based on the released cast list. Sandler is Jakub who will likely be searching for some answers in his isolation during his space mission. His wife, Lenka, will be played by Carey Mulligan. Isabella Rossellini and Kunal Nayyar are involved in the space mission in some capacity while Dano is the voice of the mysterious extraterrestrial spider. It’s hard to get a real, solid vision of where Spaceman could go from here, but that’s what makes it exciting.
Directed by Johan Renck, written by Colby Day, and starring Adam Sandler, Carey Mulligan, Paul Dano, Kunal Nayyar, Lena Olin, and Isabella Rossellini, Spaceman will make its world premiere during the 74th Berlin International Film Festival. The film will be released on Netflix on March 1, 2024.