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50th Anniversary of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ — 10 Facts You May Not Have Known About Kubrick’s Epic

On April 2nd, 1968, Stanley Kubrick’s epic 2001: A Space Odyssey was released. The film has been everything from controversial to recognized as a piece of art, and arguably Kubrick’s greatest work. 

50 years later, we look back at some of the most interesting facts about Kubrick’s journey through space and time. 

10. The main set cost $750,000 

The Discovery was created in a 12-meter by 2-meter drum, rotated at 5 kilometers per hour, and was built by Vickers-Armstrong. And yes, the price tag topped off at $750,000. 

9. Kubrick tried to take an alien insurance policy out    

Kubrick was afraid that extraterrestrials would be discovered before the release of his film—consequently discrediting all of his hard work to make his film as realistic as possible. He wanted to insure the project so it wouldn’t become obsolete, but Lloyd’s of London refused the policy, stating the probability of alien discovery in such a short time was pretty low. 

8. HAL was originally a woman 

That’s right, the famous voice of HAL was originally going to be female and named Athena. 

7. The floating pen was actually just taped to glass 

Without the ease of CGI at the time, the floating pen scene was filmed by taping the pen on a giant piece of glass while it slowly rotated. Special effects artist Brian Johnson stated that if you look closely, you can see actress Heather Downham pull it off the glass.

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6. The apes were mimes 

After auditioning a slew of actors, comedians, and dancers, Kubrick found that mimes were best for the “Dawn of Man” opening sequence. 

5. The title changed a few times 

Among the contenders were How the Solar System Was WonAcross the Sea of Stars, Universe, Tunnel to the Stars, Earth Escape, Jupiter Window, Farewell to Earth, and Planetfall.

4. The total footage shot was 200 times more than the film 

Kubrick was a known perfectionist, so it’s no surprise 2001  had a lot of unused footage. It was also rumored he burned the extra footage, but much of it was found years later. 

3. HAL’s most famous line never happened 

HAL is often quoted for saying “Good morning, Dave”, though this line is never actually said in the film. Think of it as a “Hello, Clarice” kind of thing. 

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2. More than 200 people walked out of the premier screening 

When people first saw 2001, they really didn’t like or understand it. It’s been said about 241 people walked out of the screening, including Rock Hudson who was heard saying “Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?”

1. It was not initially a financial success 

The film performed so poorly during the first few weeks, MGM wanted to pull it from theaters. However, many theater owners convinced them not to pull the film because they noted that young people enjoyed watching it on psychedelic drugs. 


What are your favorite moments from 2001: A Space Odyssey? Celebrate the anniversary in the comments below.