Asteroid City ending explained

Augge and Midge talk back in forth from their windows in Asteroid CityFocus Features

With the premiere of Wes Anderson’s film Asteroid City, here’s an explainer on the film’s trippy ending.

Wes Anderson, the famous avant garde film director, has added an eleventh project to his filmography with the movie Asteroid City, which premieres today.

The official synopsis for the film reads: “World-changing events spectacularly disrupt the itinerary of a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention in an American desert town circa 1955.”

Fans of Anderson’s work know that the director is notorious for creating otherworldly movies with ambitious and ambiguous endings. So, if you’ve seen Asteroid City and are still wondering what the ending meant, keep on reading. But first, be warned: Major spoilers for Asteroid City are ahead.

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Asteroid City ending: What happened?

It’s revealed that the events of the movie are being written by Conrad Earp, a struggling playwright, as he tries to get his play of the same name off the ground.

Earp (Edward Norton) is struggling to write his three act play — Asteroid City — as the narrator (Bryan Cranston) continuously breaks the fourth wall to explain what’s going on in “reality.”

As he continues to write his play, Earp starts to connect with his main character Augie Steenbeck, a war photographer and recent widow. Steenbeck is played in universe by Jones Hall (Jason Schwartzman), who is Earp’s friend and lover. However, the more Earp resonates with Auggie’s pain, the less Hall and the rest of the Asteroid City cast understand the increasingly absurd events in the play.

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An alien spaceship hovers over Asteroid CityFocus Features

When Earp gets writer’s block while trying to create a sleeping scene that embraces the mystery of the asteroid that destroyed his fictional town, he asks his cast and crew to help him. As they improvise, he writes the scene on the spot, giving him back his creative freedom. Six months later, after several successful performances of Asteroid City, Earp dies at the age of 50 in a car accident.

The movie essentially showcased two different versions of Earp’s writing: One where we got a backstage look at his process and one “on stage” with everyone plays their roles in a beautiful, pastel colored world. Earp’s play explored the themes of loss, grief, community, and what it means to be alive. His tragic death at a young age was just the final act of his life’s work.

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Asteroid City is now playing in theaters. You can check out more of our TV and movie coverage in the hubs below:

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