Asteroid City, the new film from Wes Anderson, tells a story of a widower and his kids trapped in a small desert town — along with a varied array of other colorful characters — when a UFO apparently lands nearby, forcing the government to lock everything down. The trailer has just landed, too.
It sounds like an intense setup, but this is Wes Anderson. So instead of scares and paranoia, we get Jason Schwartzman, Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson and a slew of other stars drolly sharing witty, melancholic asides. The film arrives in theaters June 16.
Asteroid City — which includes pretty much every Wes Anderson regular — with the exception of Bill Murray — marks the director’s first film since the excellent but under-seen The French Dispatch, which was hotly anticipated, but lost momentum when it was delayed by COVID theater closures.
The Asteroid City trailer suggests a return to the near-universal acclaim for Anderson’s other recent films. He is heralded as the “director of Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
The film has a story by Anderson and longtime collaborator Roman Coppola, with a screenplay by Anderson.
The Cast of Asteroid City
The impressive cast of the film includes the aforementioned Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson and Tom Hanks, as well as Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Ed Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Stephen Park, Rupert Friend, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie, Tony Revolori, Jake Ryan, Grace Edwards, Aristou Meehan, Sophia Lillis, Ethan Lee, Jeff Goldblum, Rita Wilson and more.
Not all of them turn up in the trailer, which most prominently features Schwartzman, Johansson, Tom Hanks, Hope Davis, Maya Hawke and Jeffrey Wright.
Focus Features, which is releasing Asteroid City, has previously described it as “poetic meditation on the meaning of life. It tells the story of a fictional American desert town circa 1955 and its Junior Stargazer convention, which brings together students and parents from across the country for scholarly competition, rest/recreation, comedy, drama, romance, and more.”
Asteroid City is the 11th film for Wes Anderson, who broke into feature films with 1996’s Bottle Rocket, co-written with his University of Texas at Austin roommate Owen Wilson.
Wilson talked a little bit about the experience of writing that film — and 2000’s The Royal Tenenbaums — in MovieMaker’s spring cover story about Wilson and his new movie Paint.
Wilson says in the story that despite sharing an Oscar nomination with Anderson for co-writing Tenenbaums, he hasn’t written lately because writing can be such an isolating, grinding experience.
“Although writing with Wes — I wouldn’t describe that as lonely,” Wilson said. “That was kind of fun. I think that would be a good challenge to do, to kind of sit down, rather than contribute or try to make something better.”
Hanks plays the dry elder figure in Asteroid City often played by Murray in Anderson’s movies. Hanks has never appeared in a Wes Anderson film before, but Murray made consecutive appearances in the last nine Anderson films, and anchored The French Dispatch as the curmudgeonly but deeply dedicated editor of a meticulous American magazine covering France.
Last April, Searchlight Pictures halted production on Aziz Ansari’s new film Being Mortal after a complaint was lodged against Murray accusing him of inappropriate behavior on set. Murray later addressed the situation during an appearance on CNBC.
“I did something I thought was funny, and it wasn’t taken that way,” Murray said. “The company, the movie studio, wanted to do the right thing, so they wanted to check it all out, investigate it, and so they stopped the production.”
Murray has since appeared in Marvel’s Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantummania.
Main image: Scarlett Johansson as a stranded actress in Asteroid City, directed by Wes Anderson.