It’s been nearly 55 years since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to step foot on the moon. Still, between 5-11% of Americans believe the moon landing never actually happened, per Statistica.

Conspiracy theories claiming the Apollo 11 mission was a hoax have caught traction, pointing out minor inconsistencies in moon landing footage and photographs — such as the supposed lack of stars in the lunar sky.

Most theories rest on the foundational truth that the United States desperately wanted to win the Space Race. Some people believe the U.S. staged the moon landing for a guaranteed win over the Soviet Union.

“Fly Me To The Moon,” an upcoming romantic comedy starring Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum, might play on popular moon hoax theories, but it is not based on the true story.

In the film, marketing mogul Kelly Jones (Johansson) is hired by NASA to sell the lunar mission to the American people. On the off chance the moon landing fails, Jones is tasked with staging a fake moon landing video as backup — something NASA employee Cole Davis (Tatum) believes undermines the entire mission.

“The inspiration for this story,” director Greg Berlanti told People, “was to craft a big, fun, smart original movie around whether or not the American government could have possibly faked the Apollo 11 moon landing, which is still the most-watched live TV event in the history of the world and has since become one of the most talked about conspiracy theories.”

Is ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ a true story?

“Fly Me To The Moon” draws on historical events, but the majority of the plot is fiction. There is no official evidence that NASA ever staged a fake version of the moon landing.

NASA denies theories that claim the moon landing was fake.

“The arguments that have been arrayed on the side that the lunar landing were a hoax are very elaborate and they have to be to support a theory like this,” said Brain Welch, a NASA spokesperson, per a 2001 FOX special on the moon hoax theory.

“There are always gonna be people who believe some outlandish theories, and the notion that we somehow were able to fake the lunar missions is pretty outlandish,” Welch added. “There were probably a quarter of a million people who were directly involved in the Apollo program and another half million people beyond that — three quarters of a million people can’t keep a secret like that.”

‘Fly Me To The Moon’ isn’t entirely fictitious

“Fly Me To The Moon” is loosely based on a true story. The movie takes creatively liberty in spinning historical events into a lighthearted, entertaining story for audiences. But NASA really did hire PR specialists to boost dwindling support for the lunar mission.

As the Space Race escalated, Americans weren’t sold on the Apollo 11 mission. The Civil Rights Movement was coming to a close and many Americans considered the lunar missions frivolous, per The Atlantic.

The United States spent $25.8 billion on the Apollo 11 mission, money many American believed should have been spent fighting poverty among African Americans, per Smithsonian Magazine.

“One-fifth of the population lacks adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care,” Baptist preacher Ralph Abernathy said outside the Kennedy Space Center during a peaceful protest, per History. “The money for the space program ... should be spent to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, tend the sick, and house the shelterless.”

Amid problems at home, the U.S. was knee-deep in a decadeslong Cold War with the Soviet Union. U.S. leaders believed beating the Soviet Union to the moon would signify dominance. But the mission required support from the American people.

To get American support for the lunar missions, NASA hired PR experts, like Johansson’s character, to market the moon, per Space. The PR specialists were not hired to film a fake moon landing though; they trained news media and made the mission more accessible to ordinary people by pushing for a live broadcast of the event.

“I believe the marketing aspect of Apollo was as important as the spacecraft, I absolutely do,” said David Meerman Scott, the author of several books on marketing, per The New York Times. Selling the scientific and cultural impact of the mission “was absolutely essential for us to have been able to do that program.”

Are Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum’s characters in ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ real people?

Johansson plays Kelly Jones, a marketing maven tasked with selling the Apollo 11 mission to Americans. Kelly Jones is a fictitious character likely based on the many PR specialists hired by NASA to market the lunar missions.

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Tatum plays Cole Davies, NASA’s launch director for the Apollo 11 mission. Cole Davies is also a fictitious character. He is likely based on Eugene Kranz, who worked on NASA’s mission control for 34 years and was a launch director for the Apollo 11 mission, per the National Air and Space Museum.

The romantic plot line between Cole Davies and Kelly Jones was created for the film.

Watch: Trailer for ‘Fly Me To The Moon’

“Fly Me To The Moon” is in theaters on Friday, July 5. The film will be available for streaming on Apple TV+ after it leaves theaters.

It is rated PG-13 for some language and smoking.

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