Russia Wins The Movie Space Race, Will Make First Film Shot Off-Planet

What if the Russians had beaten the United States to landing a man on the moon during the space race and forever changed the course of the Cold War? Would all of America have opted to become moon landing truthers, just to stick it to the dreaded Russians? Would a future President have launched a nuclear strike on the moon in the ultimate, "Well I can't have it, neither can you!" hissy fit? Will Marvel ever adapt this exact scenario in one of their "What If...?" episodes? 

Okay, this news maybe isn't all that drastic ... but it's notable nonetheless. 

A new space race of sorts was born when the news first came out that Russia and the United States film productions were both vying to shoot a feature film on the International Space Station, marking a whole new frontier for filmmaking. In a bit of a blow to America's (mostly Tom Cruise's) space ambitions, however, the Russians may have just beaten everyone else to the punch. Man, where's JFK when you need him?

In Space, No One Can Hear You Filming

You win some, you lose some. America may have just successfully sent a batch of civilians into orbit without a professional astronaut of any kind (it's mostly a gimmick), but Russia has gained the advantage when it comes to space-set film productions. Variety brings the news that "The Challenge," a movie about "a Russian doctor who's sent to the International Space Station to save the life of a cosmonaut," will come out ahead of Tom Cruise's space action movie when the production crew lifts off next month for a 12-day shoot in space. I can't believe I just typed out that sentence, but there it is. It's a brave new world, folks.

If you're wondering about how exactly a Russian film production gets trained for a stay in space for any length of time, the answer is: "Trust us," I guess? Variety describes their training as a "crash course" that took place earlier in 2021 and Yulia Peresild, the lead actor in the film, was quoted at a recent press conference as saying that it's "too late" for any reservations about the daunting task:

"If you're afraid of wolves, you shouldn't go into the forest.
There is just no time left for fear."

Needless to say, that has to be one of the most quintessentially Russian ways to describe a situation like this. There has been little in the way of concrete updates since Tom Cruise announced that he would be teaming up with director Doug Liman and Elon Musk's SpaceX company to blast their way into lower Earth orbit, but believe it or not, I feel like it's probably wiser to take their time and make sure that every possible precaution is taken.

As a space nerd, I feel obligated to mention that Russia has had a slew of problems on the International Space Station in recent months; from mysterious cracks that have led to accusations of sabotage, to an unprecedented and incredibly dangerous situation where a Russian rocket fired its thrusters while docked to the station and caused the entire structure to flip around in orbit before it could get under control again. Maybe, just maybe, it's not the best time to be filming a movie there? In fairness, the same could also be said for Elon Musk, who should probably be more focused on his automated Tesla cars threatening to run bystanders over.

In any case, here's hoping that Russian film production goes off without a hitch.