Recently, a rumor broke out on the internet that action superstar Tom Cruise was working with tech entrepreneur Elon Musk to make an action-adventure movie set in space, using Musk's SpaceX company. Now, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has confirmed via Twitter that America's national space agency will also be a part of the movie.
"NASA is excited to work with @TomCruise on a film aboard the @Space_Station! We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA's ambitious plans a reality."
In the past, NASA has assisted filmmakers by providing advice and occasionally lending their equipment for movies set in space. But this is the first time they have actually agreed to take a film crew aboard their Space Station to shoot a feature. Although news of Elon Musk's involvement in the enterprise is still more rumor than reality, he did tweet back at Bridenstine "Should be a lot of fun!" following his announcement.
If the project does come to fruition, it will be setting all kinds of records in terms of filmmaking, the most important obviously being the first movie to be actually shot in space. While earlier movies in the genre have used a variety of tricks to mimic a space environment, the truly authentic effects of zero gravity can only be captured aboard the space station.
Of course, the main reason why movies are not regularly shot in space, apart from the astronomical cost, is that it is incredibly difficult to take a chaotic film set and make it work while aboard a space ship thousands of miles above the Earth. Not to mention the rocketing insurance premiums that would be attached to the project due to the very high level of risk of death and injury to the cast and crew.
That is why it is more than likely the movie will be shot mostly on Earth, and only parts of it in space. But if there is one action filmmaker on the planet today with the passion and the resources to make such an outrageous project work, it is Cruise, who has time and again demonstrated his willingness to put his own life in danger performing deadly stunts instead of relying on doubles or CGI.
For NASA and Elon Musk, the chance to work with the biggest action star on the planet is a way to get a lot of publicity and garner public interest in their work. With cutbacks to NASA's funding, the space agency lacks the cultural relevance it enjoyed in the pre-2000s era, and a movie that shows the International Space Station in a cool new light could go a long way towards rekindling interest in space exploration amongst audiences.
For now, Tom Cruise is busying working on the next installment of the Mission Impossible series, which had to halt production with the advent of the lockdown. The script for the film is said to be getting tweaked in order to allow the crew to finish the movie while obeying the new social distancing guidelines being enforced the world over.