Disney+ nostalgic space adventure ‘Crater’ brings the moon to Baton Rouge
Some moms and dads want to tightly manage their kids. Some, like Caleb’s dad in Crater, want you to take off with friends in a stolen space buggy and explore a mysterious black moon pit to get some fresh air.
Hey, different parents, different strategies. It feels entirely appropriate that “free-roaming moon children” might be a trending parenting strategy in 2023.
What’s impressive about a saga set almost 239,000 miles away is that it was filmed at about 56 feet above sea level in Baton Rouge.
Crater is the latest Baton Rouge-filmed project to land on the Disney+ platform, following the National Treasure: Edge of History series, which aired its Season One finale back in February. Of course, as experts on both Louisiana filmmaking and the moon (very, very casual experts on the moon), we wanted to explore a preliminary dive into a Baton Rouge project but also a Shawn Levy project, the producer behind major fantasy-adventure series like Stranger Things and Shadow and Bone and the director of the upcoming Deadpool 3.
photo credit: Walt Disney Studios
Taking the darker sensibilities of those shows and distilling them into a middle-grade nostalgia adventure might bring a unique edge to Crater, and we’re here for it.
The spoilers, the logistics, whether or not five kids in a moon buggy become roving cannibal moon pirates – here’s what’s worth talking about for the Disney+ Original, Crater.
Audiences already know about a major film death in Crater
*This paragraph contains a spoiler!*
This is a subtle but savvy marketing angle – in the Crater trailer, Caleb’s father (played by Scott Mescudi), is very much alive. But the official Disney plot synopsis for Crater, as reported by Collider, is this:
Crater is the story of Caleb Channing, who was raised on a lunar mining colony and is about to be permanently relocated to an idyllic faraway planet following the death of his father. But before leaving, to fulfill his dad’s last wish, he and his three best friends, Dylan, Borney, and Marcus, and a new arrival from Earth, Addison, hijack a rover for one final adventure on a journey to explore a mysterious crater.
So, they immediately reveal that there will be an early on-screen death, and this implies that Crater wants to be a film known for its emotional heft. Whatsondisneyplus.com called it a “coming-of-age film in the vein of Stand by Me”. Put this together with the creative team behind Crater and you have a film that is prepared to leave an emotional imprint on Young Adult audiences.
Besides Producer Shawn Levy, the film’s creative team also included Producer Dan Levine (Shadow and Bone, Arrival), Cinematographer Jas Shelton (Homecoming, The Stanford Prison Experiment), and Producer Dan Cohen (Stranger Things, Love and Monsters), among others with a history of gravitating to darker material.
photo credit: Walt Disney Studios
So…how did they turn Baton Rouge into the moon for Crater ?
Umm, well the moon soil was imported by a local construction company, the planetary space was trucked in on flatbeds–Okay, not quite.
Crater was filmed at Baton Rouge’s Celtic Studios, which houses close to 150,000 feet of stage space for productions. Celtic Studios offers all of the post-production needs that Crater would require and could hold a world that felt like Caleb and his friends were realistically adrift on a moon colony.
WBRZ reported in spring 2021 that Crater would be one of the first post-Covid films to ramp up production in Baton Rouge. The original production estimates were that the film would employ 325 crew members and 400 extras. According to IMDB, Crater was a two-month shoot that began in June 2021 and was wrapped by the end of August.
Crater has a strong resemblance to the formula of National Treasure: Edge of History
Yeah, there could be a bias factor here because they were both filmed in Baton Rouge, but here are the parallels:
- National Treasure and Crater both center around a protagonist who has lost one or both parents and ensues on an adventure to pay homage to their loved ones.
- Both plots are centered around a crew of friends without clear family ties who live and spend the bulk of their time with each other.
- Each has the sense that it is striving for a new generation of cinematic nostalgia, with outcast-adolescent adventure vibes seen in movies like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Hook, or something more intimate like Mud.
Creators of National Treasure: Edge of History referenced films like Lord of the Rings as influences, and it makes perfect sense for Disney to strive to replicate a sense of “epic-ness” in today’s Original film stable. They need to fill the shoes of titans from the last generation’s nostalgia films, and Crater strives to imprint a legacy of nostalgia for a young audience with an epic space adventure.
Crater will bring a sense of summer freedom to streaming audiences
Here’s today’s super-deep film school thesis:
Crater’s plot is based on a kid losing his father at a pivotal time in adolescence. It is about identity, loss, and acceptance of this loss. Caleb (played by Isaiah Russell-Bailey), is not just roaming around the moon with friends for fun – he’s on a quest to find and liberate himself.
The film premieres the second week of May, a time when flowers open, vegetables sprout, and students reflect on the year behind before storming into summer. Like E.T. did with an alien-filled basket on some bicycle handlebars in the first week of June 1982, Crater will do with a stolen space rover in the first week of May 2023.
The question is who will be going along for the ride.
Crater premieres on Disney+ for streaming on Friday, May 12th.
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Fable House is a video production company based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that specializes in production for film, video, commercials, and TV. Our team are experts in physical production, post-production, and VFX. We produce content for major brands, TV networks like Syfy and Lifetime, and provide production services to Louisiana’s never-say-die indie filmmakers.