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Distant - What We Know So Far

"Distant" is the mysterious sci-fi film set to be released in early 2023. Produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, the film seems to be a send up to science fiction adventure movies from the '80s, a time when Amblin Entertainment movies were all the rage. The space-set film will feature some stars on the rise (pun intended) and it's being helmed by some directors with a solid comedy pedigree. Not a ton of plot details are out there at the moment as the filmmakers seems to be teasing a more than meets the eye type of movie. Based on the information that is out there, it does seem like "Distant" will be a film that looks to appeal to the masses with pure popcorn flick entertainment. The release date had moved a few times, so it seems that the powers that be behind the film are looking to get the release just right. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming film, "Distant."

When will Distant be released?

"Distant" is slated for a release on January 27, 2023 from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment. According to Deadline, the film was initially supposed to open on March 11, 2022, as filming was completed in November 2020. Deadline reported in November 2021 that the film would be moving to a September 16, 2022 release date. In June 2022, after multiple delays, "Distant" finally landed on its January 2023 release date.

According to Box Office Mojo, "Distant" is set to release alongside two other wide releases on January 27, 2023. The two films are Lionsgate's action thriller "Plane" with Gerard Butler and Sony's animated family film "Harold and the Purple Crayon." "Distant" is the only science-fiction comedy releasing that date, so it should stand out among the other releases. So far, only the remake of 1996's "Fear" will be released the week before on January 20, 2023.

What is the plot of Distant?

"Distant" follows an asteroid miner who crash lands on an alien planet and must contend against failing oxygen in his spacesuit while outrunning strange alien creatures to save a fellow surviving crew member who is trapped inside her escape pod. The film is being billed as a science-fiction comedy. According to Deadline, Steven Spielberg's company Amblin Entertainment picked up the script in 2019 and fast tracked the production on the film. The script, by writer Spenser Cohen, was described as "'When Harry Met Sally' meets 'The Martian.'"

Cohen previously wrote the sci-fi feature films "Extinction" which was released by Netflix in 2018 and "Moonfall" which Lionsgate released theatrically in 2022. Variety reported that "Extinction" was on The Black List in 2013. The Black List is a list produced by execs throughout Hollywood of the best unproduced screenplays. When that film was eventually made with Universal in 2018, it was sold off to Netflix before Universal was set to release the film (also via Variety.)

Not much else is known at this time about the plot of "Distant" as no trailer or further details have been released at this time.

Who is starring in Distant?

"Distant" will star Anthony Ramos, hot off of his star-making role as Usnavi in 2021's "In the Heights," as the lead stranded asteroid miner. Naomi Scott from Disney's live-action "Aladdin" reboot will star as the other stranded crew member stuck in her escape pod. Rachel Brosnahan ("The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel") was originally cast in that role, but due to COVID-related scheduling conflicts, she had to drop out (via The Hollywood Reporter.)

"Game of Thrones" star Kristofer Hivju will also appear in the film alongside Zachary Quinto from the most recent "Star Trek" trilogy. It is unknown what character Hivju will be playing. Quinto will be providing the voice for the AI suit that Ramos' character will be wearing. No other members of the cast have been announced at this time.

Producer Anna Halberg told NBC News that the cast and crew on the film followed very strict Covid-19 guidelines which included "masks, face shields, social distancing, three-times-a-week testing, extensive sanitization" since they filmed the movie in 2020.

"I think there is a heightened level of anxiety around making sure the production doesn't shut down, making sure you're not spending extra money, and of course keeping people safe and healthy," Halberg said.

Who is directing Distant?

Will Speck and Josh Gordon directed "Distant." They are best known for directing the 2007 Will Farrell and Jon Heder comedy, "Blades of Glory." The duo met in college while attending NYU Film School. Josh Gordon told the Roger Ebert website in an interview of their beginnings, "When we first came out to LA, we had day jobs. I worked on a TV show, Will worked for a producer, and every night we would come back and write our scripts. The only things that we knew how to make were short films, because that's what we made at school. Our first short was 'Angry Boy,' which was produced through the Fox Movie Channel. We made that film with some friends, and it was a very short piece."

That 1997 short film would be followed up with another short, "Culture," which would garner them an Oscar nomination for best live-action short film (via Variety.) They would go on to direct commercials for a while including the famous "So Easy a Caveman Could Do It" Geico commercials. According to Ad Age, this led to the short-lived, "Cavemen" ABC series in 2007.

Following the success of "Blades of Glory," the duo went on to direct the Jason Bateman starring comedies "The Switch" in 2010 and "Office Christmas Party" in 2016. According to Deadline, they signed on to direct the since-released in 2022 "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile" for Sony while still in post-production for "Distant."

What Will Distant Be Rated?

The IMDb page for "Distant" has a PG-13 rating for the film. This would make sense, looking at directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon's careers. While they have directed the R-rated comedies, "Office Christmas Party" and "The Switch," they began their careers working on commercials and sitcoms, mediums that adhere to stricter content guidelines. Plus, their first film, "Blades of Glory" was a PG-13 rated film. Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, which produced "Distant," has a track record of releasing PG-13 rated movies, with Amblin's "Gremlins" being the reason for rating's creation.

Looking on the MPA's official Film Rating site, confirmed "Distant" will be rated PG-13, "for creature violence and some strong language." The site shows that the film received its rating back in 2021. Considering the film's original release date was March 11, 2022 before it was pushed to September 16, 2022, and before ultimately landing at its January 27, 2023 release date, the timelines add up for this film to have received an MPA rating back in 2021.