5 Things You Didn't Know About '2001: A Space Odyssey'

On April 3, 1968, Stanley Kubrick’s science-fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey had its world premiere. Find out five things you didn’t know about one of the most revered films of the 20th century.


Kubrick Tried to Buy Alien Insurance Just before NASA’s Mariner 4 spacecraft passed Mars in July 1965, a worried Stanly Kubrick attempted to take out an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London—in case the discovery of extraterrestrial life ruined the plot he was then working on with science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. In the end, Mariner’s pictures showed a harsh, cratered, moon-like surface, which immediately tamped down the hope that intelligent life—or indeed, any life—might exist on that planet.

The Film Provided an Early Glimpse at Artificial Intelligence At the time the film was made, the internet was still decades away, and the idea that computers could "think" was relegated to the realm of sci-fi. While many of the predictions in the film didn't materialize, the vision of computing as it was portrayed in the film was eerily accurate.  In a 1968 interview, Sci-fi novelist Arthur C. Clarke, who co-wrote the screenplay for the film said, "Many computer scientists think that we will develop, before the end of the century, machines which are intelligent by any way you care to define that word. In fact, there are some computers now that can carry on conversations with you over an electric typewriter and people just will not believe they're talking to a machine even though the conversation is limited to rather restricted areas. But many scientists think that in the next century we will have machines which are more intelligent than us, and of course this may be one of the great divides in history."

17 Minutes Of Footage Cut At The Last Minute Was Recently Rediscovered Given how much footage was shot (as much as two hundred times the length of the final cut), it’s unsurprising that enormous amounts were left on the cutting room floor, but it’s unlikely ever to surface: Kubrick always burnt his negatives after a film was finished. But the director did cut nineteen minutes after release, seventeen minutes of which were rediscovered in 2010 in a vault in a Kansas salt mine. It’s yet to see the public light of day.

The Book And The Move Were Develped Concurrently Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey came about when director Stanley Kubrick was introduced science fiction author, Arthur C. Clarke.  Clarke and Kubrick worked on the book together, but eventually only Clarke ended up as the official author. Although the novel and film were developed simultaneously, the novel follows early drafts of the film, from which the final version of the film deviated. These changes were often for practical reasons relating to what could be filmed economically, and a few were due to differences of opinion between Kubrick and Clarke.

Initial Reviews of the Movie Were Devastating When the movie premiered in New York City and Washington, D.C. in April 1968, the initial reviews were so bad they were shocking. In New York, 241 people walked out of the movie, and the terrible reviews left famed science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke in tears halfway through. Despite this, young people loved the movie and went in droves, making it 1968’s highest-grossing film, ranked now as number six of history’s most important films.