History, Legacy & Showmanship
Monday, 02 April 2018 14:30

Still the Ultimate Trip: Remembering “2001: A Space Odyssey” on its 50th Anniversary

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2001 is Kubrick’s crowning achievement. It’s the movie that launched him into ’superstar’ status that placed him alongside the likes of Welles, Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa, Hitchcock, Ford...” — film historian and author Raymond Benson

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the golden anniversary of the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick’s acclaimed science-fiction adventure starring Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood.

Featuring groundbreaking visual effects and memorable usage of classical music (and decades of analysis), 2001 premiered 50 years ago this week, and for the occasion The Bits features a compilation of statistics and box office data that places the movie’s performance in context; passages from vintage film reviews; and a reference/historical listing of the movie’s limited-market 70-millimeter and roadshow engagements. [Read on here...]

Finally, there is an interview segment with a quartet of film historians and Kubrick authorities who discuss the film’s impact and influence.

Director Stanley Kubrick on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey


2001 NUMBER$

  • 1= Box-office rank among films directed by Stanley Kubrick
  • 1 = Number of Academy Awards
  • 1 = Number of sequels
  • 1 = Rank among top-earning films of 1968 (lifetime earnings)
  • 1 = Rank on AFI’s Top Sci-Fi Films
  • 3 = Number of theaters showing 2001 during opening week
  • 4 = Number of Academy Award nominations
  • 6 = Rank among MGM’s all-time top-earning movies at close of original run
  • 10 = Rank among top-earning films of 1968 (calendar year)
  • 13 = Rank of HAL 9000 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Villains
  • 17 = Peak all-time box-office chart position
  • 22 = Rank on AFI’s 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time
  • 33 = Rank among top-earning movies of the 1960s (earnings from 1/1/60 – 12/31/69)
  • 103 = Number of 70mm prints for domestic first-run
  • 127 = Number of weeks of longest-running engagement
  • 148 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing films (adjusted for inflation)
  • $8.5 million = Box-office rental (through 12/31/68)
  • $12.0 million = Production cost
  • $14.5 million = Box-office rental (through 12/31/69)
  • $17.5 million = Box-office rental (through 12/31/70)
  • $21.5 million = Box-office rental (through 12/31/71)
  • $24.1 million = Box-office rental (through 12/31/80)
  • $25.5 million = Box-office rental (through 12/31/96)
  • $56.9 million = Box-office gross (lifetime)
  • $85.9 million = Production cost (adjusted for inflation)
  • $155.5 million = Box-office rental (adjusted for inflation)
  • $407.1 million = Box-office gross (adjusted for inflation)


Director Stanley Kubrick, writer Arthur C. Clarke & members of the 2001: A Space Odyssey production team



“Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is the picture which science-fiction enthusiasts of every age and in every corner of the world have prayed (sometimes forlornly) that the industry might one day give them.” — Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times

2001: A Space Odyssey is a thoroughly uninteresting failure, and the most damning demonstration yet of Stanley Kubrick’s inability to tell a story coherently and with a consistent point of view. His film is not a film at all, but merely a pretext for a pictorial spread in Life magazine.” — Andrew Sarris, Village Voice

“Kubrick’s special effects border on the miraculous — a quantum leap in quality over any other science fiction film ever made!” — Joseph Morgenstern, Newsweek

“The movie is so completely absorbed in its own problems, its use of color and space, its fanatical devotion to science-fiction detail, that it is somewhere between hypnotic and immensely boring.” — Renata Adler, The New York Times

“A fantastic movie about man’s future! An unprecedented psychedelic roller coaster of an experience!” — Life

“A film that is so dull, it even dulls our interest in the technical ingenuity for the sake of which Kubrick has allowed it to become dull.” — Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic

2001: A Space Odyssey provides the screen with some of the most dazzling visual happenings and technical achievements in the history of the motion picture!” — Time

“Is a work of art possible if pseudo-science and the technology of moviemaking become more important to the ’artist’ than man? This is central to the failure of 2001. It’s a monumentally unimaginative movie: Kubrick, with his $750,000 centrifuge, and in love with gigantic hardware and control panels, is the Belasco of science fiction.” — Pauline Kael, The New Yorker

2001: A Space Odyssey is a gorgeous, exhilarating and mind-stretching spectacle.” — Emerson Beauchamp, The Washington Star

“A regrettable failure, although not a total one. This film is fascinating when it concentrates on apes and machines…and dreadful when it deals with the in-betweens: humans.” — John Simon, New Leader

“A uniquely poetic piece of sci-fi…hypnotically entertaining!” — Penelope Gilliatt, The New Yorker

2001: A Space Odyssey is not a cinematic landmark. It compares with, but does not best, previous efforts at science fiction; lacking the humanity of Forbidden Planet, the imagination of Things to Come and the simplicity of Of Stars and Men, it actually belongs to the technically-slick group previously dominated by George Pal and the Japanese.” — Robert B. Frederick, Variety

2001: A Space Odyssey is without a doubt one of the most controversial, enigmatic and cinematically impressive films ever made. Kubrick spent four years and $10 million putting it together and the result is 140 minutes of technical achievement that is a milestone in movie history.” — John Hinterberger, The Seattle Times

“The sound track is a mish-mash of pseudo-church electronic music and, incredibly, Strauss waltzes. Imagine whirling through space to schmaltz in three-quarter time!” — Kathleen Carroll, New York Daily News

“Since 2001: A Space Odyssey has a somewhat grandiose title and a rather antiseptic start, there’s no hint of its eventual entertainment. It turns out to the ultimate in science-fiction.” — Alta Maloney, The Boston Herald

“Lacking a focus and conclusion that can be understood, the picture wanders and exhausts its audience. Since this the first time that director Stanley Kubrick has lost touch with any large part of the audience, one can only guess that the space journey theme hypnotized him. And while under this mighty influence he stubbed his toe.” — Archer Winsten, New York Post

“The fascinating thing about this film is that it fails on the human level but succeeds magnificently on a cosmic scale.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“Kubrick’s futuristic film operates on three levels: The scientific, the philosophic and the dramatic. In my opinion, it is more successful on the first two levels than on the third, but two for three is good enough for the major leagues — and Kubrick definitely is a major leaguer.” — James Meade, The San Diego Union

A scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey

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