Greg Berlanti Screens ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ During Biden-Trump Debate 5

This pivotal year for the nation was on Greg Berlanti‘s mind during an intimate screening of his period film Fly Me to the Moon that took place on the night of this week’s presidential debate.

Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum star in Apple Original Films‘ romantic comedy feature from director Berlanti that hits theaters July 14, with Sony handling distribution. Set against the backdrop of the Apollo 11 moon launch during the Space Race of the late 1960s, Fly Me to the Moon centers on a NASA director (Tatum) and marketing specialist (Johansson) who butt heads in the lead-up to the high-pressure moment.

Among the notable guests at the event held at the San Vicente Bungalows in West Hollywood were performers who had previously worked with Berlanti, including Cole Sprouse (Riverdale), Lucy Hale (Katy Keene) and Lukas Gage (You). Also in attendance were Nina Dobrev, Billie Lourd, Alex Edelman, Donald De Line and Jim Rash, with the latter co-starring in Fly Me to the Moon as a filmmaker hired to help stage the moon landing as a fallback plan.

Berlanti, who helmed the movie from a script by Rose Gilroy, told The Hollywood Reporter at the event that “this moment in the country” was on his mind with the film being shown just as the tense face-off between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump was winding down. The director and prolific television producer said the film has led to viewers feeling nostalgic for a more unified nation.

Cole Sprouse and Greg Berlanti attend the Fly Me to the Moon screening.

Eric Charbonneau/Getty Images

“When I started to see that response from people from both sides, didn’t matter where we tested — in Denver or Texas or here — everybody was feeling that same thing,” Berlanti said. He likened the response to similarly fond feelings generated by his previous film, Love, Simon: “It was a little reminiscent to when I was doing Love, Simon, and wherever we went, people were very nostalgic about their high school experience. It didn’t matter that it was a gay love story. It was very unifying.”

While introducing Fly Me to the Moon on stage, Berlanti thanked the teams at Apple and Sony for believing in a theatrical release for the film and encouraged attendees to help spread the word about the project. “This is an incredibly auspicious crowd, and we’re incredibly grateful for your time — and on debate night, no less,” he said.

This led event host Sara Foster to quip about the debate, “Nobody wants to watch that shit show.” During the reception that followed the screening, some guests could be overheard voicing concerns about how the debate unfolded.

Fly Me to the Moon producer Sarah Schechter, director Greg Berlanti and stars Jim Rash and Anna Garcia pose at the screening.

Eric Charbonneau

Berlanti also told THR that the current proliferation of conspiracy theories was on his mind while making Fly Me to the Moon, given that the story involves the government encouraging NASA to film a fake version of the moon landing in case the real mission falls short.

“The fact that they’re so prevalent now — this was still a movie that was about why the truth is important, and that people will bring whatever they’re going to bring to it,” said Berlanti, who emphasized that the topic of trust in the government is still worth exploring, despite the fraught nature of our contemporary moment.

The filmmaker said that he aimed to make “a very entertaining movie [that] hopefully still has something to say about that. There’s a reason to look at that head-on and not shy away from doing something like that now because it’s so politicized.”

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