I can only speculate what happens when a studio head screens a film for the first time before release; that decision is made long before critics get to see a film. But it is during this screening that dozens of decisions are made. The exact release date is determined, the marketing budget is adjusted accordingly, the number of theaters for release are determined - including which markets, and finally if there is any buyers remorse. Does the studio regret that it invested the money into the film? ;


When you see a film get pushed back (or moved forward) from one date to another at the last minute, it is generally decided after the screening that the film would do better against a particular group of films. Or, as was the case with Will Smith's last film "Collateral Beauty", they were hopeful it would get lost and forgotten by opening it against a Star Wars film ("Rogue One").

Peter Chelsom's "The Space Between Us" was originally scheduled for release December 16, during the very profitable by very competitive holiday season. My guess is, the powers that be screened the film and collectively said, "Oh shit! We can't release that crap during the holidays, it'll get crushed!" So they pushed the film back to February 3 - the middle of the Crap-o-rama season. So instead of going against "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story", "La La Land", "Sing", "Passengers" (another space movie) and "A Monster Calls" the folks at STX felt their chances are better to recover their $30 million dollar investment against "Rings".


This is the second Mar's movie in the last couple of years with Matt Damon's extremely well done "The Martian" being one of the best films of 2015. It is also the fourth space flick in the last three months with "Arrival", Passengers", and "Rogue One" preceding it. Well, of the four, it is easily the worst.


The film revolves around the first permanent manned mission to Mars, which has astronauts zooming off to the red planet, leaving their life on Earthy behind - much like "Passengers". The project is apparently overseen by NASA but apparently being fulfilled by a private company founded by Nathaniel Shepard (Gary Oldman). After he says his goodbyes to the crew - in particular the mission commander (Janet Montgomery). The trip is safe but it is discovered during the flight that the flight commander is preggers and due to give birth shortly after landing, which she does. Unfortunately for her, she dies after birthing.

For whatever reason, it was decided that the childbirth would be bad publicity and the baby's birth is hidden from the public. Thus Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) is raised by the scientists and knows very little about his mother save for her death.


Shepherd retires, or basically becomes a recluse, and Gardner grows up curious about life on Earth. After all, he is the first human born on Mars, so everything to him is only hearsay. But he becomes online chat buddies with a foster girl in Denver named Tulsa (Britt Robertson) and his curiosity grows stronger to the point it is decided he could go to Earth for a visit. If nothing else, the scientists would get a chance to see how his body would react to Earths stronger gravity.


After medically preparing him, he returns home to begin a quest with is newfound gal pal to find his daddy. Yes, after all is said and done this is merely a baby daddy movie. In fact it probably would have been more entertaining if they had a scene of him running around asking different men if they were his daddy!


Though Gardner finds Earth interesting, you never get out of Butterfield the feeling of total awe. This is a new planet, awe. This is a new adventure, awe. Instead we get a few casual comments and that's it. There was a brief dance in the rain, but that's it. In every film the astronaut is filled with total awe. "Gravity", "Apollo 11", "Interstellar", "Space Cowboys"...all gave you a sense of the human experience of discovery. It is a sense that is never captured by Asa.


The other major problem is the story itself. The writers decided to make something that was obvious in the first five minutes of the film, a plot twist. A very lame plot twist. A plot twist that was so lame, it too lacked that sense of discovery.


What is cool is the fact that a portion of the film was shot at the Spaceport America in New Mexico. In fact, just about the entire film was shot in New Mexico; a small portion was shot in Las Vegas Nevada.


"The Space Between Us" is a monumental disappointment that even the most lovesick teens will find unsatisfying. It fits in perfectly with the collection of crappy flicks you expect this time of year.   -- GEOFF BURTON