The original large-scale U.S.S. "Discovery One" filming model used in all motion control photography produced for the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact (MGM, 1984).
This film served as the sequel to the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey (MGM, 1968), directed by acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Like its predecessor, 2010 featured practical visual effects, which predated the advent of CGI (computer graphic imagery).
The detailed U.S.S. Discovery model measures an impressive twelve feet long and was fabricated by the talented artisans at the four-time Academy Award nominated visual effects company EEG (Entertainment Effects Group) which was founded by Douglas Trumbull, the esteemed Academy Award winner and special photographic effects supervisor from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The custom-detailed model, built around a metal armature, features the command sphere with viewport (aged due to space weathering), simulated bay doors and hatches, surface detailing (extensive panels, scribe lines and greeblies), boom with extendable antenna array, which in the film separates the spherical crew habitat from the simulated, gaseous nuclear fission reactor and propulsion unit thrusters at the rear of the miniature. The model was initially painted akin to the original Discovery One's fabricated for the production of 2001: A Space Odyssey and then enhanced for the production of 2010.
In the motion picture the U.S. Government, in a joint space mission with the Soviet Union, travel to the far-off planet of Jupiter on the Russian spacecraft Leonov, to seek out the last known location of the U.S.S Discovery One - which after its failed mission nine years prior, had ceased communications - In the hopes of finding out what actually happened to those aboard the spacecraft.
In one particularly memorable and haunting scene, the crew of the Leonov approach the eight-hundred-foot-long derelict ship, spinning end over end, still in orbit around Jupiter where it has been floating in space for nearly a decade.
Legend has it that following the principal photography of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the original filming miniatures constructed for the movie were ordered to be destroyed by director Stanley Kubrick. Only one miniature from 2001 is known to have survived; the Aries 1B Trans-Lunar space shuttle. Both versions of the original large-scale Discovery One miniatures constructed for 2001 are believed to have been discarded and destroyed, making this scratch-built model the only known example of a filmed large-scale U.S.S Discovery One model to exist.
THE U.S.S. DISCOVERY ONE
The fictional nuclear-powered deep space research spacecraft, the U.S.S. Discovery One, consisting of a five-man crew and an on-board A.I. computer system named HAL 9000, first appeared in the 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey authored by best-selling science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. The novel was developed and written in tandem with the development and writing of the screenplay for the classic motion picture of the same name, produced and directed by the brilliant Stanley Kubrick.
The spacecraft returned to cinema sixteen years after the original theatrical release of 2001: A Space Odyssey in the sequel film 2010: The Year We Make Contact directed by Peter Hyams (Capricorn One, Outland) who also collaborated with Clarke on the development of 2010 and wrote the screenplay.
According to Clarke's published novel adaptation of 2001, the spacecraft is nearly four-hundred feet long, with its sphere-shaped flight command center and crew compartment, measuring forty feet in diameter, attached to a long fuel tank boom, leading to a nuclear plasma powered engine module and thrusters. However, in the sequel film 2010, the Discovery is indicated as being a staggering eight-hundred feet long.
The spherical section of the Discovery One contains the spacecraft's flight control cockpit, HAL 9000 mainframe computer, crew quarters with kitchen, interspace communications center, medical analysis and treatment bay, space pod inspection & repair craft bay and an optional, spinning, carousel-like deck, which rotates at approximately five rpm within the crew quarters, creating a simulated moon-level gravity via the use of centrifugal force. In addition, Hibernation chambers are located within the carousel.
THE FATE OF THE 2001 MODELS
Two Discovery One miniatures were constructed for the production of 2001: A Space Odyssey, one measuring fifteen-feet and an immense model measuring fifty-four-feet. Both were considered quite large for filming miniatures. The scale of the models were this large in order to keep the entire spacecraft in focus during photography, which would not be possible with smaller miniatures. When shooting smaller scale models, cameras move in closer and, in many cases, focus changes would reveal the actual size of the miniature.
After the principal photography was completed on 2001: A Space Odyssey, director Stanly Kubrick instructed that all of the miniatures created for the film, along with all of the original construction plans & schematics rendered for the production, be immediately trucked to a local junkyard and destroyed. This was done so that the models could never be used again in any science fiction film productions and/or television programs. Photos are known to exist showing 2001's large scale cylindrical rotating wheel Space Station V miniature sitting in a field of grass adjacent a dump in the UK, before being taken apart by local children who played with pieces of the model.
RETURN OF THE DISCOVERY ONE
For 2010, like its predecessor 2001, a twelve-foot model of the Discovery One was required and custom-built for the production. The model was made from scratch by the talented artisans at the acclaimed EEG (Entertainment Effects Group), the celebrated U.S. based visual effects company founded by visual effects guru and filmmaker Douglas Trumbull, who as a young man had worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Four time Academy Award winner, visual effects maestro Richard Edlund, following his leave from George Lucas's ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) where he produced special visual effects on many motion pictures, including the first Star Wars Trilogy (Lucasfilm Ltd., 1977-1983) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (Lucasfilm Ltd., 1981), acquired EEG's Marina Del Rey facility through his Boss Films visual effects company. There he and his team began working on two major productions simultaneously 2010: The Year We Make Contact, and Ghostbusters (Columbia Pictures, 1984), serving as the visual effects supervisor of 2010.
Kubrick's decision to destroy the original filming miniatures custom-built for 2001 resulted in a difficult challenge for the miniature effects crew of 2010 during the movie's pre-production phase. Due to 2001's original blueprints & schematics also ending up in a landfill, the model makers for 2010 did not have any easy access to reference materials for the fabrication of the models for 2010 and had to resort to blowing-up frames of film depicting the Discovery One from various angles from an actual 70mm movie theater film reel print of 2001.
The challenge was heightened by the fact that many of 2010's model builders considered 2001: A Space Odyssey a landmark achievement in filmmaking which had raised the bar in miniature visuals effects production. For some of the miniature makers, the movie even inspired them to get into the film industry in the first place. Their tireless efforts ultimately resulted in 2010 being nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Visual Effects."
The twelve-foot miniature fabricated by EEG/Boss Films skilled model builders was primarily utilized during the production's motion control visual effects cinematography. There was a smaller model fabricated for the spacecraft's eerie end over end sequence and a command sphere section fabricated for the scene where the Leonov meets with the Discovery One.
This Discovery One large scale model is a testament to the craftsmanship, artistry, skill, and ingenuity of its makers and a prime example of 1980's practical visual effects and miniature construction. Which is fast becoming a truly lost art as digital technology continues to replace the practical effects industry.
THE DERELICT SPACECRAFT
In the film 2010, the Discovery One has become a derelict ship floating in the far depths of space around Jupiter when it is come upon by the crew of the Leonov. In a haunting, suspense driven and truly memorable sequence the Leonov attaches an extendable ship-to-ship space gangway to the Discovery One, while the massive spacecraft is still spinning end over end. A frightened, hyperventilating Dr. Walter Curnow (John Lithgow) makes his way to the derelict spacecraft from the Soviet craft.
Upon entering the Discovery One, Dr. Curnow has an immediate panic attack believing he smells the rotten flesh of the spaceship's deceased crew members, but he is repeatedly reassured that this is not the case by Dr. Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider) communicating from the bridge of the Leonov, who quickly accounts for the status of each of the crew members, with three dying in hypersleep chambers, one floating away into space and one, Commander David Bowman, unaccounted for.
In order to simulate the appearance of space weathering on the miniature, the gifted model builders at EEG/Boss Films painted much of the surface of the Discovery One as if it had been exposed to the harshness of space weathering over the years. This was achieved by applying various shades of airbrushed and dry brushed shades of brown patina paint by the miniature effects crew. The original custom paint finishing applied nearly forty years ago to the model is still mostly intact.
The Discovery One was stored at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, California under the stewardship of Turner Classic Movies who acquired it directly from MGM Studios. This original, large-scale filming miniature as seen used in the production of 2010: The Year We Make Contact, is now being offered at auction for the first time.
After four decades, the model has been painstakingly refurbished for this first ever auction. The refurbishment was conducted by the skilled specialists and artisans of the company "Blok4," a team of creative designers, artists, and fabricators with over 25 years of experience in restoration, replication, and manufacturing of specialty props, costumes, and art pieces. Some previous work includes the restoration of the Stillsuit from the original DUNE movie, and an exact replica of the red space suit from the film, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY for a collaboration between Gucci and the Stanley Kubrick Film Archives.
Preservation work included:
1.) Cleaning the model of dirt & dust
2.) Rebuilding the original internal structure
3.) Reassembling the model
4.) Fabricating a custom stand with rolling casters
5.) Fitting the model to the stand
6.) Fabricating a custom foam-lined wooden storage crate
The original illuminating light bulbs built into the hull of the miniature faded long ago. The choice was made not to go into the interior of the miniature and replace the vintage bulb lighting with LEDs for two reasons: One - when the miniature is first seen in the film 2010 as a derelict spacecraft with no power system activated, it is not illuminated, but is completely dark. Two - removing the original vintage lights and replacing them with LEDs could have resulted in possibly damaging the interior hull of the miniature.
This rare, large-scale, filming miniature is an extraordinary example of museum quality miniature construction, from the golden era of practical visual effects for motion picture production. Hand-made by some of the most gifted special effects artisans in Hollywood history.
Includes a DVD of the film.
Model: 144 x 20 x 20 inches; Crate: 165 x 27 x 34 inches