A24 Acquires Ruben Östlund’s ‘The Entertainment System Is Down’

Renowned filmmaker Ruben Östlund is set to begin shooting “The Entertainment System is Down” in early 2025, making it unlikely to debut at next year’s Cannes Film Festival. Instead, a 2026 premiere on the Croisette seems more probable.

With the script finalized, casting is now underway. Keanu Reeves has been confirmed for a starring role, joined by Kirsten Dunst (“Civil War”) and Daniel Brühl (“Rush”), according to Deadline.

In a unique twist, Östlund has purchased a retired Boeing 747 to serve as the main set for the film. The story unfolds on a long-haul flight where the in-flight entertainment system fails, forcing passengers to confront boredom and their own thoughts. Known for his bold approach to filmmaking, Östlund has a clear vision for this project, with Reeves, Dunst, and Brühl as his key players.

Östlund drew inspiration from a social psychological study at Virginia University titled “The Challenge of the Disengaged Mind.” The experiment revealed that participants struggled with spending 6 to 15 minutes alone with nothing but their thoughts. In an added twist, participants were given the option to administer a harmless but painful electric shock to themselves. Surprisingly, a significant number chose to do so, with one participant shocking himself 190 times in 15 minutes.

Östlund plans to incorporate this concept into the film. One scene will feature a young boy asking to borrow his older brother’s iPad and being told to wait five minutes. “You stay with the kid in real time,” Östlund explains. “He’s looking in the catalog, putting it back, and the restlessness builds. When he asks his mother how much time is left, she responds, ‘Four minutes and 45 seconds.’”

As the audience realizes they are experiencing a real-time shot, Östlund anticipates widespread frustration. “I want to create history,” he says, aiming to provoke more walkouts than any film in Cannes history. “Being left alone with your thoughts and challenging the audience to do the same will be very interesting.”

At 50, Östlund already boasts two Palme d’Or wins (“The Square” and “Triangle of Sadness”) and recently served as Jury President for the 76th Cannes Film Festival. His ambitious new film promises to push boundaries and provoke strong reactions.