A lot of movie fans who missed Gravity on the big screen and caught up with it on the small screen felt disappointed. But that’s only because they didn’t watch it the way it was meant to be seen. Up on a giant screen with immersive 3D effects, Alfonso Cuarón’s sci-fi epic was truly a sight to behold.
Making a movie with a $100 million budget set in outer space, where very few people have been and a film crew has yet to boldly go, is no simple task. So, here are 10 fascinating details from the making of Gravity.
10 Alfonso And Jonás Cuarón Wrote The Script Before It Was Possible To Shoot It
After writing the script for Gravity with his son Jonás Cuarón, Alfonso Cuarón thought it would take a year to make. However, it ended up taking four-and-a-half years, as technology had yet to catch up to their vision for the film.
A turning point for the project came when James Cameron developed revolutionary shooting technologies to bring the sci-fi environments of Avatar to life on the big screen.
9 It Was Sandra Bullock’s Idea For Her Character’s Daughter To Have Died
One of Gravity’s most tragic twists is the revelation that Sandra Bullock’s character’s daughter is dead. This was actually Bullock’s own idea. In the script, her daughter was alive, which give her a reason to desperately want to return to Earth.
Bullock thought it would be more interesting if her daughter was dead and she didn’t really have a reason not to just give up and let herself die in space.
8 Around 80% Of Gravity Is CGI
According to Gravity’s Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Tim Webber, 80% of the movie contained computer-generated effects. By comparison, Avatar — every second of which was famously brimming with computer-generated VFX — was only 60% CGI.
7 Ed Harris Voiced Mission Control As A Nod To Apollo 13
The voice that can be heard briefly when the characters contact Mission Control is that of actor Ed Harris. Harris was cast to cameo as Mission Control as a nod to his famous role in Apollo 13, a similar tale about a space mission gone horribly wrong (albeit based on a true story) where things turned out a lot better for Harris’ crew. He also played a similar role in The Right Stuff.
6 The Movie’s Release Was Delayed A Year To Accommodate The Lengthy Post-Production Process
The release date of Gravity was delayed by almost an entire year. It was initially set to hit cinemas on November 21, 2012, but the post-production process took longer than expected, so the date was pushed back to November 7, 2013.
5 Sandra Bullock Underwent Six Months Of Physical Training Before Shooting
Before shooting Gravity, Sandra Bullock underwent six months of physical training. This time, she also went through the script with director Alfonso Cuarón to discuss the themes of the story and how her character would feel reborn after escaping the terrifying lost-in-space conflict of the film. The two also discussed how Bullock would be playing each scene so that the pre-visual material could be designed accordingly.
4 The Budget For This Movie Was Higher Than The Budget For The Mars Orbiter Mission
Gravity was released on November 7, 2013. On November 5, 2013, the Indian Space Research Organization launched the Mars Orbiter Mission (also known as Mangalyaan) that began orbiting Mars on September 24, 2014.
Funnily enough, the budget for Gravity was higher than the budget for the actual space mission. Gravity cost $100 million, while the Mars Orbiter Mission only cost $74 million.
3 The Sound Designers Submerged A Guitar In Water To Create Sound Effects
According to sound designer Glenn Freemantle, creating the sound effects for Gravity presented some unique challenges, since the movie is set mostly in space and there’s no sound in space.
In order to capture the sounds of objects bumping around in a soundless environment, Freemantle rigged an acoustic guitar with hydrophones on the inside and microphones on the outside and then submerged it in water. He then bumped several objects against the guitar to create the sounds.
2 During Filming, Sandra Bullock Spent 10 Hours A Day In A Huge Mechanical Rig
In most of Sandra Bullock’s shots in the movie, she’s inside a gigantic mechanical rig that has been digitally erased from each frame. It took a long period of time to get in and out of this rig, so Bullock decided to spend 10-hour days in there. She wore a headset to be able to communicate with the crew, who nicknamed the rig “Sandy’s cage.”
According to Alfonso Cuarón, the toughest challenge was ensuring Bullock didn't get a sense of claustrophobia from being stuck. The crew tried to make it more welcoming by celebrating every time Bullock arrived on the set and giving the rig a lit sign to invite her in.
1 The Lead Roles Could Have Been Played By Robert Downey, Jr. And Angelina Jolie
The original choices for the lead roles in Gravity were Robert Downey, Jr. and Angelina Jolie. Jolie’s departure from the project is what caused Universal to pull out, leading the movie into the capable hands of Warner Bros..
Before Sandra Bullock and George Clooney were cast, Natalie Portman, Olivia Wilde, Scarlett Johansson, Naomi Watts, Blake Lively, and Marion Cotillard were considered for the female lead, while Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, John Travolta, and Bruce Willis were considered for the male lead.
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