‘Fly Me to the Moon’ Director on Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson Chemistry

Director Greg Berlanti didn’t intend for his new romantic comedy “Fly Me to the Moon” to have a theatrical release.

“It was originally direct to streaming,” Berlanti says, speaking Thursday at a friends and family screening of the movie at San Vicente Bungalows in West Hollywood. “But then we handed in the cut and we started testing it. We tested it in Denver and it went very well. We tested it in California and we tested it in Texas. Every time, it was very much a resounding response from the focus group and testing that this was a theatrical movie.”

The film was produced by Apple Original Films and will be distributed by Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures.

A reimagining of the history of man’s first trip to the moon, the movie stars Channing Tatum as Cole Davis, a former military pilot in charge of Apollo 11’s launch. Scarlett Johansson co-stars as Kelly Jones, a New York advertising executive who is hired by the White House to market the space program to politicians and the American public.

“The other thing that the testing audience also kept bringing up was wanting to see an original movie. They were so grateful for an original,” Berlanti says. “Even though it’s obviously historical fiction, it’s an original story wrapped around that. They didn’t know what was going to happen in a way in the movie and that was so fresh for them.”

Johansson was developing the movie with writer Rose Gilroy when she asked Berlanti to direct after their plans to remake “Little Shop of Horrors” fell apart. “They sent me the script and I was home sick with COVID,” Berlanti recalls. “I read the script and said, ‘Maybe it’s the COVID, but I really like it.’ So I read it again.”

Johansson and Tatum didn’t have a chemistry read before the “21 Jump Street” actor signed on. “They both can have chemistry with a wall, but you don’t know until you have them together,” Berlanti says. “However, I knew from the second the readthrough was happening it was instant and I knew I just needed to and wanted to keep watching them. They have that thing.”

Rounding out the cast are Woody Harrelson, Ray Romano, Jim Hash and Anna Garcia.

The film shot in Georgia, as well as the NASA campus in Florida for about six days.

A black cat is also featured in the film, becoming an important detail by the end. Three cats were used for the role. “I’m allergic to cats,” Berlanti says. “When I read the script, I was like, ‘What am I going to do?’ So I just stayed away from them until I had to direct them and I wore a mask anyway because it was COVID. When we started out I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be the hardest part about making the movie.’ But of all the animals I’ve ever worked with, these cats were the smartest and the easiest to deal with.”

“Fly Me to the Moon” premieres in theaters on July 12.

See photos from the special screening below.

Sarah Schechter, Greg Berlanti, Jim Rash and Anna Garcia.
Getty Images for Apple TV+

Lucas Gage and Alex Edelman.
Getty Images for Apple TV+

Nina Dobrev and Sara Foster.
Getty Images for Apple TV+

Cole Sprouse and Ari Fournier.
Getty Images for Apple TV+

Getty Images for Apple TV+

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