The Martian is a 2015 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. The film is based on Andy Weir’s 2011 novel The Martian, which was adapted into a screenplay by Drew Goddard. Damon stars as an astronaut who is mistakenly presumed dead and left behind on Mars, and who then fights to survive. The film also features Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean,Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in supporting roles.
Producer Simon Kinberg began developing the film after 20th Century Fox optioned the novel in March 2013.Drew Goddard adapted the novel into a screenplay and was initially attached to direct, but the film did not move forward. Scott replaced Goddard, and with Damon in place as the main character, production was green-lit. Filming began in November 2014 and lasted approximately 70 days. Around 20 sets were built on a sound stage in Budapest, Hungary, one of the largest in the world. Wadi Rum in Jordan was also used as a practical backdrop for filming.
The film premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2015. 20th Century Fox released the film in theaters in the United Kingdom on September 30, 2015, and in the United States on October 2, 2015. The film was released in 2D, 3D, IMAX and 4D.
The film received positive reviews from critics and has grossed over $428 million worldwide.
In the 2030s, the crew of Ares III, a manned mission to Mars, has established a temporary artificial habitat, called the Hab, on Mars, where they are to stay for two months and depart back to Earth in their orbital probe. Eighteen days into the Mars mission, however, a massive Martian storm hits the base and the crew is forced to abandon the planet and launch themselves because of the danger that their escape vehicle will collapse and leave them stranded. While evacuating, astronaut Mark Watney is lost and presumed dead as his biomonitor is damaged. With the lives of her crew at stake, mission commander Melissa Lewis is forced to leave the planet, leaving Watney behind.
Watney survives the storm and makes it back to the Hab, though he is unable to contact NASA. After calculating that he has 300 days of food, he uses his knowledge as a botanist to make a makeshift potato farm using the central room of the habitat, anticipating that he will need to survive for at least three years and journey to the landing site of Ares IV (around 1480 days), which already has some of its infrastructure on Mars. He keeps a series of video logs to maintain morale and begins to modify the habitat’s rover to make it capable of long journeys.
Reviewing satellite photos of Mars, Mars mission director Vincent Kapoor and satellite planner Mindy Park realize that Watney has survived, and immediately start planning to establish contact. Mitch Henderson, the Hermes flight director, immediately assumes the Ares III crew, who are currently traveling back to Earth aboard the spacecraft Hermes, will be informed of the survival of their crewmate. However, NASA director Teddy Sanders orders them not to be told, since they have no practical rescue plan, and that the crew must focus on their own mission. Watney locates the Pathfinder probe, defunct since 1997, and uses it to regain contact with Earth. Watney and the JPL team use the Pathfinder’s camera and signs showing the hexadecimal alphabet using the ASCII code to improve efficiency of communications. Later on, using instructions from NASA, Watney modifies his rover to be able to send and receive text messages from NASA.
As Watney continues to grow his crop, Henderson and JPL director Bruce Ng formulate a plan to send a space probe to Mars and resupply Watney with enough food to allow him to survive until Ares IV can reach him. As the launch date approaches, an increasingly optimistic Sanders authorizes them to tell the crew, and they are informed in a video message from Henderson. With NASA desperate to launch the probe quickly, Sanders makes the decision to skip inspections and the probe explodes during the launch. Watney suffers his own disaster when the airlock on the habitat explosively decompresses, killing his potatoes and reducing his projected supply of food.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) offers NASA a lifeline: a classified booster that can carry a payload to Mars. Rich Purnell, a JPL astrodynamicist, discovers a method of rescuing Watney using the booster and the Hermes, postponing their return to Earth. They can send the rocket to Mars, arriving barely in time to resupply Watney, or instead use the rocket to resupply the Hermes so that the Ares III crew can return to Mars and recover Watney. Sanders insists on sending the probe to resupply Watney, prompting Purnell to secretly send the crew the necessary calculations to put them on the gravitational slingshot back to Mars. Lewis and her crew vote unanimously to rescue Whitney themselves. Sanders suspects Henderson of surreptiously passing along information about the Purnell maneuver to Lewis and her crew. NASA successfully resupplies the Hermes and Lewis’s crew begins the return journey.
After seven months, Watney has driven all of his key life support systems to the base of the Ares IV mission. Following instructions from Kapoor, he strips the Ares IV launch vehicle (placed on Mars in advance of the Ares IV mission) down to save weight, using his spacesuit to protect against the vacuum of space. As Lewis and the crew of the Hermes orbit Mars, they launch the Ares IV vehicle remotely, intending to intercept Watney in space. When Watney’s vehicle fails to achieve the altitude needed to be intercepted, Vogel improvises an explosive device to slow the Hermes down without wasting fuel by rupturing an airlock to release the ship’s atmosphere and generate thrust. Still too far away, Watney pierces the glove of his pressure suit in order to come close enough for Lewis to catch him in her MMU.
After returning to Earth, Watney begins “Day One” of his new life, taking a position with NASA as a survival instructor for new candidates to the astronaut training program, emphasizing his own experiences in problem-solving and creative engineering in worst-case scenario. The film ends as the Ares III crew members watch the news about the successful launch of the Ares V space vehicle, with Martinez as part of the new crew.