In order to have missed the trailers, posters, and endless tv spots for Passengers you’d have to be living under a rock. The lily whiteness of the project was initially a turn-off. I’ve seen Moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Alien. People get stuck in space, psychological horror ensues, a lone survivor walks away either destroyed or instilled with a new sense of resolve.

Why even bother with a super glitzy, sexualized version of some of the best films of all time?

The answer is because it looks amazing. I cannot yet speak to the story but the production design team, led by Guy Hendrix Dyas, showed themselves out.

BTS/ Set detail of the Vienna Suite
BTS/ Set detail of the Vienna Suite

We know what a spaceship looks like. Usually, designs are a mix of a classic metal rocket and the latest advancements in militarized aero-tech. But Dyas wasn’t designing a military ship, he wanted to create a luxury shopping experience.

BTS/ Grand Concourse Bar Set Detail
BTS/ Grand Concourse Bar Set Detail

Passengers is a love story in space. Thousands of people travel in cryogenic sleep for one hundred years. When they wake up they will have an entirely new life. A corporation built and launched the ship. When their cargo arrives at their new future there is a four month gestation period. 2,500 souls need to eat, shop, and be entertained. They will not be disappointed in their accommodations.

Jennifer Lawrence (center), Chris Pratt (right) and Michael Sheen (left) in Columbia Pictures' PASSENGERS.
Jennifer Lawrence (center), Chris Pratt (right) and Michael Sheen (left) in Columbia Pictures’ PASSENGERS.

Dyas thought about where he’d like to wake up after such a long journey and he landed on a classic New York City bar. He infused classic art deco style, beautiful colored woods, and sleek lines to create a vintage home feel.


Even the design of the ship is a hybrid blending aesthetically pleasing design with the motion of falling leaves. This motion helps to create the feel of gravity. There’s a serene yet intimidating feeling to the build of a ship. The haunched back feels predatory, like a scorpion preparing to strike.

BTS/ Set Detail of Swimming Pool set
BTS/ Set Detail of Swimming Pool set

There’s even a swimming pool aboard the ship. Continuing with the art deco theme there seems to be inspiration from the blue-eyed billboard in The Great Gatsby. A singular Azul12 eye watching over the lovers helps create an alluring terror from which the film revolves. The pool had to be built for the film since none could be found in Atlanta to match the film’s visual tone.

BTS/ Set Detail of Forward Observation Deck
BTS/ Set Detail of Forward Observation Deck

The success of the design should come as no surprise. Dyas other works include Inception, Steve Jobs, Elizabeth the Golden Age, and The Brothers Grimm. His outlandish yet refined style has become the staple of his work.

Passengers might be worth a ticket for the aesthetic alone.

Check the Black Girl Nerds podcast in January for an interview with Dyas where we discuss his use of shape, his inspiration for design, and how to be singularly focused on one’s work.

Passengers will in theaters everywhere on December 21st.


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