While filmmaker Damien Chazelle had a whirlwind night at the Oscars, he did go home with a golden statue of his own, becoming one of the youngest Best Director winners in history for his stunning work in crafting La La Land. That kind of attention no doubt gives a filmmaker some serious clout in picking his follow-up project—maybe a sci-fi epic or a risky drama? But just as Chazelle already had La La Land in his back pocket after the success of Whiplash put him on the map, he’s been developing his next movie already for quite some time.
First Man is a unique take on the biopic genre as it will follow the life of Neil Armstrong from the years 1961 to 1969, chronicling NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon. Ryan Gosling is already onboard to play Armstrong, and now Universal Pictures has announced that First Man will hit theaters on October 12, 2018. That’s one week before Warner Bros.’ delayed Jungle Book: Origins and one week after Warner Bros.’ comic book movie Aquaman, but First Man no doubt has awards potential in its sights.
That release date is prime territory for the film to play the Telluride/Venice/TIFF festival circuit and ride that goodwill directly into a wide release, and indeed as La La Land was the favorite to win Best Picture, it fell prey to a sort of curse: no movie released in December has won Best Picture since Million Dollar Baby, over a decade ago. For whatever reason, Oscar glory seems to befall movies that open in the October/November sweet spot, so this one’s already set up quite well.
But first and foremost on Chazelle’s mind isn’t winning (another) Oscar, it’s making a great film. Oscar-winning Spotlight screenwriter Josh Singer penned the script for First Man, and as Chazelle told us back in 2014 (that’s how long he’s been developing this movie), it’s more of a mission movie than a straight biopic:
“I sort of hesitate to call it a biopic. It’s a mission movie. It’s purely about the landing… It will cover about six years. It’ll start with him joining NASA and will end in ’69 with the landing. So it’s purely a process movie, it’s a movie about building up to that achievement.”
Chazelle and Gosling are producing the film alongside Temple Hill’s Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen, while DreamWorks Pictures is co-financing. Chazelle has proven himself to be a wildly talented director, and after seeing his take on the musical genre, I really can’t wait to see what he puts together here. Luckily we don’t have too long to wait.