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Gravity Could Have Been Really, Really Different

Alfonso Cuaròn‘s surprisingly intimate sci-fi thriller Gravity has been both a critical and box office success, generating some Oscar buzz for star Sandra Bullock. The film had a long road to its triumph, and there were a few narrow misses along the way to bringing us the movie as it exists now. Thinking of just how different Gravity could have been, or how it could have fizzled out before it even got to production, makes the film all the more amazing to watch.

The production went through a number of potential actresses before settling on Bullock, including Angelina Jolie, Blake Lively, and Natalie Portman. Scheduling conflicts and, in Lively’s case, concerns about young age eventually took them all out of the running, but Sandra Bullock arrived to save the day. Finding the male lead was also difficult: Robert Downey Jr. was initially cast, but had to drop out due to obligations with the Iron Man films. George Clooney only jumped into the film at the last second. Can you picture what Gravity would have looked like if it had starred Blake Lively and Robert Downey Jr.?

There was even some juggling with the studios. The project was originally picked up by Universal, not Warner Bros. WB only came onto the film after Universal had abandoned it.

On top of all of that, there were also conflicting ideas about the nature of the story and what the final product would look like. Cuaròn told io9:

“When you go into the process, yes, there are a lot of ideas. People start suggesting other stuff. ‘You need to cut to Houston, and see how the rescue mission goes. And there is a ticking clock with the rescue mission. You have to do flashbacks with the backstory.’ But we were very clear that this was the film that we wanted to make.”

An expensive, unconventional project like Gravity was a huge risk for any studio to take. As Cuaròn put it, “The studio was flying in the blind.” The film took years to complete and they couldn’t be sure how the final project would turn out or how audiences would react. The outstanding success of Gravity is thrown into high relief when you realize that it almost wasn’t. What would have happened if one actor had been changed, or if one more executive had decided that the project was too risky to take on?

Cuaròn said:

“What we were trying to do was a film about adversity and the possible outcome of a rebirth. All of things that fall apart metaphorically, and in the life of this woman.”

In this case, after a lot of struggle and some threats of falling apart, everything worked out for the best.

(via: Variety, io9)

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  • AverageDrafter

    Cuaròn is obviously skilled at film making, but his studio executive interference Aikido is damned impressive as well.

    Listen to their ideas, tell them you value their input and that you will see how their suggestion fits into he overall story, then do what you were going to do anyway.

  • Anonymous

    I just wish to say one thing…*cough*nonromanticcomedyfemaleleadblockbuster*cough*.

  • Anonymous

    He does appear to be an experienced Aikidoka. : )

  • Ashe

    women cant sell movies

    they cant because uh

    women cant sell movies

  • Bam Bunting

    Good things about Gravity: the overall effect just moving along with the characters and the feeling of “how did they do that” (which I haven’t felt since Jurassic Park)

    GREAT things about Gravity: Knowing that although it does look like Science Fiction we as a society have reached the point of this all being possible, the movie transcends to a story of survival instead. Not only has technology reached a point of accurately portraying this but its also reached the point of physically doing it.

    I walked out of that theater with my stomach in a knot my legs shaking and a renewed fear and interest in where we can go outside our atmosphere.

    Now lets break out the Vodka and celebrate the best movie of the decade.

  • David Zgurski

    All that is true, I also thought that it was the first movie I’ve seen where 3D seemed necessary to the the storytelling rather than just being retrofitted to be a gimmick. Maybe there’s a young Spielberg or Lucas watching it now who will be so influenced that in ten years we’ll get another Original Trilogy Star Wars-caliber franchise, with a female lead hero.

  • Anonymous

    Their hands are just too small to hold the DVDs.

  • Ashe

    And they can’t handle things while their nail polish is drying

    What are you even thinking

  • E.V. Emmons

    I would have been fine with Robert Downey Jr. :)

  • Robin S

    I can’t imagine this movie with Angelina. She is a very fine actress, but she is infinitely confident and poised. Sandra Bullock has the capacity to make us believe her vulnerability, but also her brilliance and competence.

    I don’t think a younger woman or a woman as stunning and confident as Angelina could have pulled off the one-two punch of vulnerable and mature.

  • Bam Bunting

    Anybody else finished watching this movie and went OHHHHHH THIS is how they should do Aquaman?

  • Alice Ruppert

    I am SO glad they did not cut back to Housten or do flashbacks or anything. The fact that the whole thing remains in space and that there are literally only two faces you see makes it so much better.