After 24 years, Tom Hanks is blasting off to space again with Major Matt Mason. The Mattel action figure from the 1960s is getting his own feature film starring the Oscar winner. Variety is reporting that the film is ready for launch over at Paramount Pictures. This news comes completely out of the blue, but this casting sounds very promising based on Hanks' resume.
Michael Chabon's short story about the titular astronaut will serve as the basis for a script. Akiva Goldsman is aboard to adapt that short story, and the screenwriter has previously worked with Hanks on both The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Mattel Films will also handle co-producing duties along with Paramount. None of the principles involved have issued a comment yet.
For those unfamiliar with the property, Major Matt Mason was an astronaut action figure that lived and worked on the moon in the 1960s. America's love of the space race spurred the toy line's popularity across the country. There is no indication that Matt Mason's cast of characters like his crew and friendly aliens will be included in the film.
Hanks is no stranger to whimsy, after all, he's at the Toronto International Film Festival for his starring turn in Marielle Heller's Fred Rogers feature A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. November brings the full theatrical release of the film and people were absolutely emotional after watching the trailer. Sony released that clip to almost universal applause for its depiction of the beloved TV host. The trailer is playing above if you feel like fighting off some tears right now.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood actually begins near the end of PBS' initial run of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Matthew Rhys (The Americans) plays Tom Junod as the journalist works on the well-known 1998 Esquire profile "Can You Say... Hero?" Junod is doing a story for the magazine's hero issue and ends up touched by the everyday kindness that Mister Rogers carries himself with. The two strike up a friendship and learn to understand each other through the lens of Rogers' "Golden Rule" philosophy. Rhys' character sees firsthand the ways in which the TV host's work has left a mark on so many people all across the country.
Sony's official synopsis for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is below:
"Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America's most beloved neighbor."