When you’re ready to make your feature film directorial debut, you couldn’t have been set up for success better than Noah Hawley and his “Lucy in the Sky.” Not only did he have the backing of Searchlight Pictures, but he also had a cast that included Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, and Dan Stevens. But even with the great cast, the studio backing, and the buzz from his award-winning success with “Fargo,” “Lucy in the Sky” was a huge disappointment, both creatively and financially. And now, Hawley thinks he knows why.
Speaking to Variety, the filmmaker talked about the intentions he had with “Lucy in the Sky” and why he thinks the film ultimately became a bust both with critics and with fans at the box office, where the film earned a paltry $326,000 during its run.
“I set out to make a magical-realism astronaut movie,” Hawley explained. “Not a lot of high demand for that. But that’s what the story wanted to be.”
He continued, “I’m not sure, at the end of the day, that the understanding that the studio had was that I was making a magical-realism astronaut movie — even though I wrote a script for a magical-realism astronaut movie, and I showed them all the visuals. I think the project originated as a kind of Reese Witherspoon dark comedy. And I think there was some degree to which, when they saw my director’s cut, they were expecting a Reese Witherspoon dark comedy.”
In addition to the apparent disconnect between the filmmaker and the studio, Hawley also thinks things were made worse by the release date. The director believes the studio should have thought more about where to position the feature.
“It’s an ambitious, movie-star-driven film with big themes and a very emotional film,” he said. “What is that if not a fall film?”
It’s unclear what Hawley’s next feature will be. He was signed on to write and direct a “Star Trek” feature, but that has been put on hold. In the meantime, he has the most recent season of “Fargo,” which is arriving later this month.