Space thriller The Martian, in which Matt Damon plays an astronaut stranded on Mars, has landed at the top of the North American box office chart. The movie, directed by Ridley Scott, took $55m over last weekend, according to studio estimates. That puts it on a par with the Oscar-winning Gravity, which took $55.8m two years ago and holds the record for the biggest October opening on record. Here are some unknown facts for you about the recent blockbuster:
The Martian landscape is not what it seems
After the plans to film in the Australian outback didn't work out, the filmmakers decided to shoot most of the Martian sequences on set to give them more control over the environment. However, they also filmed panoramic views of the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan for eight days, and added them later in the background using visual effects. The Wadi Rum desert was also the site for the British historical drama “Lawrence of Arabia” and Ruairí Robinson's Sci-Fi film “Last Days of Mars”.
A mountain of soil was needed and the potatoes are real!
Four thousand tonnes of soil and other materials were used to make the Martian landscape set. It took 3 types of Hungarian soil alone to match the right colour for the soil. A nursery with artificial lighting and heating was constructed to grow Watney's potatoes; with half-cooked spuds, just like in the movie. A total of 1200 potatoes were grown with around 8 potatoes per plant.
The rover ran on fuel
Although The Martian's rover was modelled on the Curiosity Rover, it was much bigger and needed a crew of 37 people to build 2 full scale models of it, which they tested in a Hungarian quarry before filming. While it may seem in the movie that the rover runs on solar energy, in reality it was powered by a 2.0l diesel engine.
There is a hidden tribute to the all time classic space Sci-fi.
The design of the HERMES spacecraft was inspired by the interlocking mechanisms of the International Space Station (ISS), and it was built on several stages in Warner Studios. The bright white interior of the HERMES was homage to Stanley Kubrick's classic Sci-fi, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
A piece of the story may someday be in Mars.
The filmmakers worked closely with NASA for the script and the shoot. They were allowed to film the launch of the Orion Spacecraft, which would eventually enable human exploration in Mars, at Cape Canaveral. In fact, a title page of The Martian's script was on board the Orion with a sketch of astronaut Mark Watney by director Ridley Scott.