It’s a rare thing when a movie markets itself at the nerdvana that is San Diego Comic Con before making its world premiere at a cinema celebration as prestigious as the Venice Film Festival. But this is exactly the incredible journey Alfonso Cuarón’s upcoming Gravity is making. The science-fiction thriller that marks his long-awaited follow-up to the three-time Academy Award-nominated sci-fi drama Children of Men follows the harrowing quest of two astronauts who are stranded in space when their spacewalk is interrupted by their shuttle’s unexpected destruction. Fronted by A-listers Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, Gravity could prove a rare commercial hit for Cuarón. But in a surprisingly candid interview with The Huffington Post, the fascinating filmmaker suggests its not box office bankability that drives him.
Early on, major box office draw Robert Downey Jr. was attached to star, but in this interview—which is absolutely worth reading in its entirety—Cuarón is quick to share why he’s grateful the Iron Man became detached from Gravity. After admitting part of the problem was that it took four and a half years to get Gravity into production, he admits:
“And also it was very clear that the technology we were going to use -- it was not the most compatible thing for what Robert is the best at. That is, he takes one scene and he just starts riffing. And because of the technology that we use, it's pretty much limited. We have to preprogram the film before shooting.”
Of course Downey’s ballsy penchant for riffing is a major part of what made the Iron Man movies such a popular property. But to be perfectly frank, Cuarón had no time for that on this shoot. Because of the cutting edge tech involved in its production to achieve the weightlessness required for most of the narrative, there was no room for ad-libbing. Instead, a great deal of preparation went into every shot of the film before shooting even began. He explains:
“But that's the thing, both George and Sandra, we had endless conversations before. We animated the whole film before. We could have released an animated version with the voices of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. We watched it and we gave suggestions and if they had notes or ideas, then it was just about programming the whole thing. It was amazing because, yes, they changed quite a lot, relatively speaking. But it was always in the context of what was there already.”
You can learn more about the special tech employed in Gravity’s production by checking out our live blog of Cuaron’s shared Comic Con panel with Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Edgar Wright (The World’s End). And be sure to check out the trailer here.
Gravity will make its world premiere in Venice Film Festival on August 28th. A theatrical release in the US will follow on October 4th.