25 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

We’ve seen a major resurgence of Stanley Kubrick’s work in the last few years. Rodney Ascher’s atmospheric documentary, Room 237, explored the strange conspiracy theories surrounding The Shining. Speaking of the horror opus, based on a 1977 novel by Stephen King, a sequel book was released by King last year, Doctor Sleep. The recent Kubrick retrospective at LACMA offered viewers an intimate look at the director’s scripts, models, costumes, and more.

This week, we have cause to celebrate Kubrick again as the 46th anniversary of his cosmic epic, 2001: A Space Odyssey, is upon us. Critics were initially divided on the unusual science-fiction tale, featuring a sentient computer and a mysterious monolith, but the 1968 film’s influence still resonates today. 2001 helped make room for the thinking person’s sci-fi story in Hollywood and displayed a technical prowess still copycatted in contemporary cinema. In honor of Kubrick’s landmark movie, we’ve gathered some interesting facts about 2001 that you might have missed.

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Kubrick and co-screenwriter Arthur C. Clarke (whose short story “The Sentinel” provided partial inspiration for the film and who wrote a novelization of 2001 that was developed concurrently with the movie) gave 2001 the working title, How the Solar System Was Won (referencing the classic film How the West Was Won). The project was announced in a 1965 press release as Journey Beyond the Stars, but other titles considered were Universe, Tunnel to the Stars, and Planetfall. The duo didn’t arrive at the final title until 11 months later.

2001’s Discovery set, featuring a massive centrifuge (the rotating wheel-like structure), was built by high-profile aircraft manufacturer Vickers-Armstrong, costing the production a whopping $750,000.

Famous science fiction authors were as divided on the film as movie critics. Writers such as Ray Bradbury and Lester del Rey felt 2001 lacked humanity, while Isaac Asimov and Samuel R. Delany were greatly impressed.

Some conspiracy theorists are convinced that the Apollo moon landing, completed by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, was totally faked. They believe Armstrong’s footage was a hoax film directed by Kubrick using leftover scenes from 2001.

Always the perfectionist (and consumed by the technical demands of his movie), 2001 wound up being $4.5 million over the initial $6 million budget and 16 months behind schedule.