On Monday it might have seemed to some like the ultimate movie marketing campaign had been launched, when NASA announced that that it had found evidence that liquid water flows on Mars, just days before the release of Ridley Scott's The Martian.
The Internet certainly seemed to be abuzz with cynicism over the coincidental timing of the announcement by NASA and the movie's release, and a recent interview between Yahoo and Ridley Scott seems to have only encouraged the idea that NASA had waited to announced its findings, with Scott telling interviewers, "I knew that months ago."
Speaking to Yahoo Movies about the upcoming release, which is receiving rave reviews from critics, Scott talked about his relationship with NASA while filming The Martian, and how he got into discussions about the possibility of water on Mars, saying:
When I first talked to NASA, we got into all kinds of stuff and I said, ‘So I know you’ve got down there [these] massive glaciers.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, that the massive white thing [on the surface of Mars] that gets covered with dust, we think that’s ice,’” Scott recalled. “And I said, 'Wow! Does that mean there was an ocean?’ Are we right now what Mars was 750 million years ago?’ And they went, ‘Uh, good question.’ So they want to go up there and find out.’
But while NASA's announcement and the film's release may seem coincidental now, Scott specified to the New York Times that he only learned about the water discovery after The Martian has been put into production. And though he was ultimately spared from having to alter the plot of the film in anyway, he did take a moment to imagine what he might have adjusted in the film:
[Damon’s astronaut] would’ve found the edge of a glacier, definitely. It would be fascinating. But then I would’ve lost a great sequence. He has to make water, and the steaming device, and put up the plastic tents, which creates the humidity, which grows the plants, which is the most basic form of irrigation.
Ridley Scott's The Martian is based on a novel of the same name by Andy Weir, and tells the story of astronaut and botanist Mark Watney who is presumed dead and left behind on Mars by his crew after a mission goes awry. Following his abandonment, Watney must fight to survive in his new hostile environment, all the while hoping that back on Earth, his crew and NASA will see his signal and come and rescue him.
The Martian opens in cinemas on Friday, October 2nd.