New technology had to be invented in order to make the film work.
Filming was so complicated that the director, Alfonso Cuarón claims that he will never make another space movie again.
Warner Bros. didn't see any footage from the film until it was completed.
George Clooney, an avid prankster, agreed to not perform any pranks during the strenuous shoot.
Bullock's son, Louis is an avid George Clooney fan and got to meet him during filming. During breaks, Clooney played basketball with Louis.
Took three months to render the opening shot.
Rather than playing a song over the credits, tracks from the soundtrack play instead. Heard are Auroras Borealis and portions of Don't Let Go, Tiangong and ISS.
This technology was dubbed the "Light Box", a hollow nine by nine foot cube with interior walls fitted with LEDs. The brainchild of Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki, who got the idea from LED lighting effects and projects at a concert and visual effects supervisor Tim Webber, the Light Box was necessary because animators had to match up the lighting in the animation with the live action shoot perfectly. Cuarón told ComingSoon that the finished box was raised on a six-foot-high platform. Similar to a green screen except more accurate, efficient and less high-maintenence, it was fitted with 4,096 LED bulbs that could show any CG image to get the correct lighting.
About 60 percent of Gravity was shot in the light box.
There are no opening credits.
The filmmakers made the wise decision to not have any cuts to Earth during the film until Dr. Stone has the re-entry, despite pressure from the studio, who wanted mission control to be seen or flashbacks to Dr. Stone's life. Only the final two minutes take place on Earth.
London-based VFX company Framestore spent over 3 years creating most of the visual effects for the entire movie encompassing over 80 minutes of screen time.
Since Sandra Bullock was inside the light box for most of the shoot, Cuarón had a neon sign made that read "Sandy's Cage" and was displayed on set throughout the shoot.
The film's title card appears three times in the film.
Gravity was in development hell for years and for a while strategies thought of included filming in front of a green screen with wires or filming in the microgravity "Vomit Comet" like the film Apollo 13 had done.
The lake used at the end of the film is Lake Powell in Arizona. This is the same lake seen at the end of the original Planet of the Apes.
The capsule splashdown is shown as being shot at The Queen Mother Reservoir near London, UK according to the Splashdown extra on the Bluray.
The film's runtime is identical to the accurate time it takes for the debris to complete an orbit.
Sandra Bullock trained with dancers and astronauts to mimic movements in zero-gravity.
Because of Alfonso Cuarón's lengthy takes, Sandra Bullock had to memorize long combinations of precise movements to hit her marks at different points in the shot. She often had to coordinate her own moves with those of the wire rig attached to her and the camera.
Took the record for biggest October opening from Paranormal Activity 3.
James Cameron loved it and called Gravity the best space film ever made.
Contains many homages to other space films, such as Apollo 13, Wall-E, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Trip to the Moon and Alien.
The studio wanted Mission Control to be romantically involved with Dr. Stone.
When the fire alarm is seen at the International Space Station's computer monitor, if you look next to the screen, a picture of the film's screenwriter, Jonás Cuarón, can be seen hanging on the wall.
Alfonso Cuarón's biggest reason for making Gravity was that he wanted to make a film you had to experience, because he claims most movies you can watch with your eyes closed. However, that was not the only reason the film was made. Producer David Heyman says that the film was not made soley for the effects, but rather because the film tells a poignant story, and Sandra Bullock claims that the film's story is the main focus. The fact that it takes place in space is merely there to allow the viewer to be engrossed in the picture. Nevertheless, the effects or setting was never the primary focus of the film.
Lake Zurich, Illinois was chosen as Dr. Ryan Stone's hometown because the filmmakers heard it was a research headquarters for x-ray technology, which is Stone's occupation. However, this is false.
Went over-budget by $20 million.
There are only 156 cuts in the whole film.
When Kowalski says that Dr. Stone just has to point the Soyuz at Earth and drop to get home, he claims that it is not "rocket science". Yet Stone eventually has to tap into the landing jets to get home, meaning that she did, indeed, have to use rocket science to get home.
Originally to be released in November 2012 but held back for visual effects work.
Extremely accurate, even down to the star patterns.
The camera was controlled by a robot, which the crew nicknamed "Iris".
First movie in years to have a Macarena joke.
One of the most complicated movies ever filmed, if not the most complicated.
Met with widespread critical acclaim. Holds a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
One of the top 250 movies of all time on IMDb (#205, formerly 128) and the highest rated film of 2013 on the website.
Nominated for ten Oscars and won seven.
When Dr. Ryan Stone contacts Aningaaq, she is floating over Greenland, which allows her to pick up a frequency from Aningaaq's ham radio.
Sandra Bullock was on a self-imposed hiatus from acting when Alfonso Cuarón contacted her about playing the lead role. According to Bullock, she was angry and depressed that her husband, Jesse James, had an affair with another woman and left her, so she decided to take needed time off work so she could raise her son, content with her place in life and too downtrodden to do another film. However, she had wanted to work with Alfonso Cuarón for so long that she felt she needed to take the role. Filming didn't get much better, though. The shoot was very demanding and Bullock claims to have wanted to walk off the picture almost every day, but didn't because she was strapped into the light box for most of the shoot. Therefore her emotions of being depressed and angry in the film are very authentic, due to the dark time in her life when she made the film. Bullock has since called being a part of Gravity her greatest life decision, because it helped her move on with her own life.
Time Magazine and Empire Magazine named it the greatest film of 2013, along with MovieClips.
Took composer Steven Price six months to compose Shenzou.
The Producer's Guild of America named Gravity the best picture of 2013.
Won seven Critic's Choice Awards.
Nearly unique because all of the promotional images came straight from the film. No promotional images were specially shot.
Influential and groundbreaking game changer for visual effects and filmmaking.
Every scene Matt Kowalski is in, the song "Angels are Hard to Find" by Hank Williams, Jr. is playing.
Cuarón, who is the son of a nuclear physicist, was obsessed with getting the details of space travel right. Cuarón said: "We tried to be as accurate as possible, always honoring that it was a fiction and not pretending that this is a documentary." He even went as far as making the visual-effects animation team attended seminars held by scientists to better understand how objects move in zero-gravity.
When Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás were writing Gravity, they didn't have one single discussion about space films. Cuarón claims that two big inspirations for the film's fast pacing were "Duel" by Steven Spielberg, Konchalovsky's "Runaway Train" and "A Man Escaped" by Robert Bresson. Alfonso claims that he wanted to keep the focus on character development while Jonás wanted faster paced action sequences. Eventually they came to a point where both were involved. Cuarón said: "How long can you have a guy being chased by a truck? The great thing about Spielberg is, there has to be a bigger resonance. The truck is almost like a physical allegory of the whole thing. In many ways, I think he redid that with Jaws. Jaws is not only a shark; he represents primal fear. Floating and drifting toward the void is not only the physical fear of getting lost; it’s the psychological fear of losing ground and touching the void."
The theme of Gravity is learning to let go but the film's tagline is "don't let go".
The film's timeline is disputed. Some say that the film takes place in the alternate past (due to the presence of the Space Shuttle Explorer) but the film's scientific advisor says it takes place in the alternate near future due to the presence of the completed Tiangong station. The shuttle was used to allow audiences to be familliar with the film's technology. Astrophysicist Kevin Grazier and astronaut Andy Thomas were the scientific advisors of Gravity.
Sound is only heard when the characters are around to hear it.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine named Gravity the third best film of 2013.
The film's space debris cascade is a very real possibility. This scenario is known as the Kessler syndrome, named after NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler who first proposed the theory in 1978. A cascading Kessler syndrome involving an object the size of the International Space Station would trigger a catastrophic debris chain-reaction. The orbiting debris field would make it impossible to launch space exploration missions or satellites for many generations.
Various mechanical sounds made by the spacecraft are heard on the soundtrack as a result of conduction through the astronauts' spacesuits while they are in contact with the station. For example, when Sandra Bullock's character is frantically trying to grab the handholds as she flies by the station, the sounds of the station are heard while she is holding a handle, and they cease when she lets go. On the actual moon missions the sounds of astronauts hitting their hammers on core sample tubes were conducted through their bodies and transmitted through their microphones.
Aningaaq, the man Dr. Stone talks to on the shortwave radio, is the main character of the short film Aningaaq (2013) directed by Jonás Cuarón. In that movie he is an Inuit fisherman with a dog sled and a baby daughter, camping on the ice over a frozen fjord.
Alfonso Cuarón, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and visual effects supervisor Tim Webber decided they couldn't make the film they wanted using traditional methods. For the spacewalk scenes, says Webber, "We decided to shoot (the actors') faces and create everything else digitally." To do that, Lubezki decided he needed to light the actors' faces to match the all-digital environment. Whether the characters were floating gently, changing direction or tumbling in space, the facial light would have to perfectly match the Earth, sun and stars in the background. "That can break easily," explains Lubezki, "if the light is not moving at the speed that it has to move, if the position of the light is not right, if the contrast or density on the faces is wrong." Lubezki suggested folding an LED screen into a box, putting the actor inside, and using the light from the screen to light the actor. That way, instead of moving either Bullock or Clooney in the middle of static lights, the projected image could move while they stayed still. The "light box", key to the spacewalk scenes was a nine-foot cube just big enough for one actor.
One of the few movies approved for showing in Chinese cinemas by the strict government. A big reason for this is the fact that the Chinese Shenzou spacecraft gets Dr. Stone home.
The film is 90 minutes long. In real life, the International Space Station travels at approximately 17,500 mph, and orbits the earth every 90 minutes. The debris field also circles the earth every 90 minutes.
To prepare for shooting, Sandra Bullock spent six months in physical training while reviewing the script with Alfonso Cuarón. Cuarón said, "More than anything else, we were just talking about the thematic element of the film, the possibility of rebirth after adversity." They worked out how she would perform each scene, and her notes were included the pre-visual animation and programming for the robots. Cuarón and Bullock zeroed in on Stone's breath, "and how that breath was going to dictate her emotions," he said. "That breath that is connected with stress in some instances, but also the breath that is dictated by lack of oxygen." Their conversations covered every detail of the script and Bullock's character. "She was involved so closely in every single decision throughout the whole thing," Cuarón said. "And it was a good thing, because once we started prepping for the shoot, it was almost more like a dance routine, where it was one-two-three left, left, four-five-six then on the right. She was amazing about the blocking and the rehearsal of that. So when we were shooting, everything was just about truthfulness and emotion." James Cameron, best friend of Cuarón and a huge fan of the film, said "She's the one that had to take on this unbelievable challenge to perform it. (It was) probably no less demanding than a Cirque du Soleil performer, from what I can see. There's an art to that, to creating moments that seem spontaneous but are very highly rehearsed and choreographed. Not too many people can do it. ... I think it's really important for people in Hollywood to understand what was accomplished here."
The real-life Chinese Space station is named Tiangong, "Heavenly Palace." At the time of the film's premiere, it consisted of one small inhabitable module. The Tiangong program's goal is construction of a space station much like the one in the film by 2022.
The opening scene, from the establishing shot of Earth to Dr. Stone detaching from the structure, is a single continuous shot lasting about twelve and a half minutes.
Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón developed the script at Universal Pictures. Universal hoped to attach Angelina Jolie to the project, but decided the film was too expensive, and put the film into turnaround. The film spent 4 years in development hell because the cinematography, visual effects, and realistic "story atmosphere" of outer space were too challenging. Alfonso Cuarón had to wait for technology to catch up to his vision. That finally happened in 2009, with James Cameron's Avatar (2009). Warner Brothers picked up Gravity (2013), and Cuarón cast Bullock and Robert Downey Jr. in late 2010. Downey dropped out at the end of the year.
A chance meeting between their siblings led Astronaut Cady Coleman to call Sandra Bullock from the International Space Station to talk to her about life in space.
There is much symbolism in this film.
Although the film has received acclaim for its realism of its premises and its overall adherence to physical principles, director Alfonso Cuarón has admitted that the film is not always scientifically accurate and that some liberties were needed to sustain the story.
Though the film itself depicts space as a silent void, sound effects were added to the trailers, which caused outcry among science enthusiasts, so Alfonso Cuarón made it a priority to clarify the film was accurate in its depiction of sound in space. Cuarón was not happy about the ordeal.
Angelina Jolie was originally cast, but dropped out later. Natalie Portman turned down the role shortly before she announced her pregnancy. Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Marion Cotillard, Abbie Cornish, Carey Mulligan, Sienna Miller, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively, Rebecca Hall and Olivia Wilde were all subsequently tested or approached for the lead role.
The spacesuit that Dr. Stone puts on in the Russian Soyuz capsule has the number 42 on the patch. This places the film between September 2014 and March 2015 as the Expedition number 42 will be underway on the International Space Station.
Along with 12 Years a Slave (2013) this is the first film to tie for Best Picture at the Producer Guild Awards.
Ryan refers to her mission as STS-157 in one of her transmissions. In real life, the 135th and final Space Shuttle mission was STS-135. It launched on July 8, 2011 and landed on July 21, 2011.
George Clooney's first feature, outside of his Ocean's franchise, to break the $100 million mark since The Perfect Storm (2000).
Kowalski mentions landing at Edwards, a reference to Edwards Air Force Base in California. It was the primary landing site for all shuttle missions until 1991, then a backup landing site until the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.
As much as possible, Cuarón and company tried to avoid placing the actors in wire-rig harnesses that spun them upside down to simulate weightlessness. The problem: It's too obvious that gravity is pulling at face and body muscles. But for sequences inside the ISS, where Bullock moves horizontally as easily as a swimmer through water, there was no other option. Attired only in a T-shirt and undies, like Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in Alien, Bullock wore a 12-wire rig that was attached with harnesses molded to fit her hips and shoulders. Each of the four attachment points—one on each hip and shoulder—had three wires attached to computer-controlled servomotors. These, in turn, were connected to a platform that moved along the studio ceiling and configured Bullock into various positions like a marionette's. On-set puppeteers—their actual job title—supplemented preprogrammed moves with joysticks to smooth out jerkiness. Extended shots were pieced together from multiple fragmentary takes, because even someone as fit as Bullock could fight gravity convincingly for only so long. "Sandra was amazing at it," Tim Webber says. "She was incredibly adept at hitting her marks and miming weightlessness."
When Matt and Ryan are making their way to the International Space Station, he finds out Ryan is from Lake Zurich, Illinois, and states that it's 8:00PM there. They are floating over Egypt where it is 3:00AM locally.
Airlock does not actually play during the ISS airlock "rebirth" scene. Aningaaq does, even though Steven Price specifically composed music for the airlock scene.
Dr. Stone states that she is in a Soyuz TMA-14M. The Soyuz TMA-14m is the spacecraft that launched the crew for Expedition 41. The Soyuz TMA-14M will most likely remain on board the space station for the Expedition 42 increment to serve as an emergency escape vehicle.
Actor Phaldut Sharma, who voiced as an Indian goofy astronaut, 'Shariff', chose the song "Mera Joota Hai Japani" for humming himself when Director asked him to play something light. The director thought the character would put the audience at ease and get a few laughs before the actual story kicks off. The lyrics of the song literally mean, "My shoes are Japanese, my pants are English, the red hat on my head is Russian, and yet my heart is Indian" - figuratively saying that an Indian, wherever he goes, whatever he eats or wears, at the very heart he'll always be an Indian. It is a classic Hindi song from 'Shree 420 (1955)'.
Original cast was to be Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey, Jr.
Director Trademark for Alfonso Cuarón: Use of long continuous and digitally blended shots.
With such a complex filming process and Cuarón's die-hard desire to get in his signature long takes, the trio of Cuarón, Webber and Lubezki had to pre-visualize (read: storyboard and virtually animate) the entire film before principal photography. "In order to be able to use these technologies, we had to pre-program this stuff. The pre-vis was not just going to be a guide for us to shoot, it had to be absolutely precise in terms of camera movements, choreography, positions, timings and light. So we started doing more precise pre-vis and Lubezki started doing the animations so most of the lighting was done in the computer."
A longtime rumor claims that NASA provides suicide pills to astronauts for worse-case scenarios. NASA has denied it for decades. Some people have said that it would be easier and more comfortable to reduce oxygen in the chamber, as depicted in the film.
Ryan's hallucination of seeing Kowalski again in the space pod was George Clooney's idea. According to Clooney, Alfonso Cuaron was unable to come out with a satisfactory resolution for the character despite many revisions of the scene, including removing the dialogue, until Clooney offered to give a shot on the rewriting scene itself.
While filming an underwater scene, Alfonso Cuarón held his breath along with Sandra Bullock to make sure he wasn't asking too much of her. He soon found he couldn't match her lung power.
The entire film was shot on digital cameras. However, Emmanuel Lubezski stated that the closing sequence, after Ryan lands back on Earth was shot in 65mm in order to give a hyper-reality look that contrasts the rest of the film's visuals.