You’ve got two of the world’s biggest movie stars, a sci-fi, romance hybrid, and a release date right in time for the holiday season. A perfect recipe for success, yes? So it would seem for the new Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt-led Passengers. Yet with every new trailer, I’m getting increasingly convinced that Sony has no idea what to do with this film or how to market it. The third trailer (which Sony has clarified is not a trailer but a “song tease”) was released online today, and dear lord in space heaven, it is bad.

There’s a lot of ways to market a movie badly. Trailers can fail to capture the mood and energy of a movie, or they can look like a sequence of cobbled-together footage that makes no sense, set to terrible unrelated music, and make your movie look dumb. That’s what this new Passengers promo does, it makes this movie look straight-up dumb. Watching it feels a lot like this:


First of all, Imagine Dragon’s “Levitate” is just not the song to score your Space Titanic to. Second, does Jennifer Lawrence’s cleavage really need to be the YouTube video’s thumbnail image? And third, what the heck is this movie about? It’s not just the terrible choice of music that ruins this song tease, but the montage of rom-com imagery that finds Lawrence’s Aurora and Pratt’s Jim dancing and sleeping and doing normal couple stuff. That’s cool, but the original marketing for this film set it up as a space thriller following two passengers who wake up 90 years too early on their voyage to a new home. And I’ll admit, there was some pretty cool imagery in that first trailer (including Michael Sheen’s robot bartender and the Shining-inspired set design). But by the looks of this new promo, it’s just a rom-com that happens to be set in space.

Such inconsistent marketing it makes me increasingly worried that Sony has a bad movie on their hands and doesn’t know how to market it. Angie Han of SlashFilm pointed out another concern on Twitter: maybe Lawrence and Pratt simply don’t have chemistry?

Sony is making a big mistake if they continue to sell Passengers as a romance flick with two leads who, while they may be the biggest names in Hollywood, aren’t convincing together. I’m not sure Katniss or the Star-Lord can save this movie, but if anything I have some hope for the screenplay, which was written by Jon Spaihts (Doctor Strange, Prometheus). Space Titanic-set-to-inspirational-alt-rock opens December 21.

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