When it comes to movies about space travel, none have been as gripping as Ridley Scott’s 2015 sci-fi thriller The Martian. Starring Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney, the film shows what it would really be like to get stranded on Mars, with the audience being pulled into the thrills of his harrowing survival journey. The film is both imaginative and thrilling, yet grounded in hard science, making it easier to suspend disbelief.
The Martian’s story begins in 2009, when an ex-AOL programmer named Andy Weir began posting chapters of his novel on a blog, where he worked to research what it might be like, scientifically speaking, to live on the planet. Weir continued to work on the book for three years, adding in details as he went along. Eventually, he was ready to put The Martian up on Amazon as an e-book.
Soon, the book was a cult favorite. A producer at Fox, Simon Kinberg, who has been working on movies such as X-Men and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, picked up the e-book and got the movie rights to it. He enlisted Drew Goddard to adapt it into a screenplay for a film.
Although some scenes were filmed in Budapest, most of the movie was filmed in Jordan’s Wadi Rum, which is an otherworldly landscape that is both dramatic and visually striking. It is an isolated protected area that features dramatic sandstone mountains and natural arches, and it has been used as a movie set many times before, including in Lawrence of Arabia and the 2010 movie Prometheus.