Film studio in space planned for 2024

Space Entertainment Enterprise, co-producers of Tom Cruise’s forthcoming space-set film, have announced a production studio 250 miles above Earth

Last modified on Thu 20 Jan 2022 14.18 EST

The company co-producing Tom Cruise’s forthcoming space film has unveiled plans for a film production studio and a sports arena in zero gravity.

Space Entertainment Enterprise (SEE) has said their planned completion date is December 2024 for the module, named SEE-1, which will dock on Axiom Station, the commercial wing of the International Space Station (ISS).

The site will host films, television, music and sports events – although on-site audience capacity is yet to be determined – as well as content creators who want to develop, produce, record, broadcast and livestream 250 miles above Earth.

Third-party providers will be able to use the facilities, but SEE also intends to make its own content.

Axiom Station will then separate from the ISS in 2028. Axiom won the contract to develop the commercial wing earlier this month.

“SEE-1 is an incredible opportunity for humanity to move into a different realm and start an exciting new chapter in space,” said SEE co-founders Dmitry and Elena Lesnevsky. “It will provide a unique and accessible home for boundless entertainment possibilities in a venue packed with innovative infrastructure, which will unleash a new world of creativity.

“With worldwide leader Axiom Space building this cutting-edge, revolutionary facility, SEE-1 will provide not only the first, but also the supreme quality space structure enabling the expansion of the two trillion-dollar global entertainment industry into low-Earth orbit.”

Axiom is the company that intends to send Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman to the International Space Station this year to shoot what will now be the second movie to be shot in space.

Cruise had been planning to jet off in October 2021, but the trip was put back a few months for reasons reportedly relating to the $200m budget. Meanwhile, a Russian film crew successfully flew to the ISS earlier in October for a 12-day shoot on The Challenge.

That film, about a surgeon who has to operate on a sick cosmonaut in space because his medical condition prevents him from returning to Earth to be treated, is scheduled for release later this year.

Although documentaries featuring footage filmed by astronauts are now common – and live, global television broadcasting took a giant leap forward with the Apollo moon landings – only modest attempts have been made to film fiction beyond the final frontier.

Despite films set in space being a staple of the industry, logistical and financial barriers meant the heavy lifting was done by creative prop departments and special effects teams to help audiences suspend their disbelief.

A seven-minute short called Apogee of Fear was made in 2008 by space tourist Richard Garriott, featuring acting debuts by various baffled astronauts Some scenes from 1984 Soviet film Return from Orbit were also shot in space.

Recent attempts to re-create zero gravity – and the claustrophobia – of space have paid dividends for mainstream film-makers. Years of research and effort and million-dollar innovations were behind the verisimilitude of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s weightlessness – and inter-orbit freefalls – in Alfonso Cuarón’s 2013 film Gravity.

That film, which cost $100m, made $723m at the global box office and won seven Oscars.

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