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SPHERE

About The Production

"Sphere" began as a thought-provoking novel by one of the world's most popular writers. The book is one of Michael Crichton's most unusual efforts, a cerebral science-fiction story that is ultimately more about the power of the human mind than extraterrestrial concerns, but nonetheless terrifies with a series of thrills... all of it set a thousand feet below the surface of the mysterious, beautiful and potentially menacing ocean.

"In the end, Sphere is not about technology," says Crichton, who also serves as one of the film's producers. "It's about people. I was interested in all of our usual ideas of contact with extraterrestrial intelligence, which always seemed to be variations on meeting either the bogeyman or the skinny little cute kid. But I wasn't sure that it would be wonderful and dazzling. I thought that it would probably be really scary and upsetting."

This small group of highly intelligent people is isolated on the ocean floor in a high-tech, but claustrophobic facility dubbed the Habitat. "One of the classic requirements for suspense is isolation," notes Crichton. "And there's nothing more isolated than being a thousand feet under water, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and all the surface ships have left."

Ten years passed after the publication of Crichton's novel, until Barry Levinson -- with whom Crichton had previously collaborated when the director adapted his novel "Disclosure" for a Warner Bros. film -- decided to make a science-fiction movie. Says Crichton, "I became excited when Barry expressed an interest in the project, because, as Barry himself says, he likes to make movies in which people talk. That's where his attention goes, and that's where the attention of the movie needs to go...to the characters."

Levinson had been seeking the right science-fiction project for years. "I've always been fascinated by the genre," the director notes, "but I couldn't find one that worked for my sensibility until I read Sphere. The central concept of the book is what makes it so intriguing to me, because with all of its exciting science-fiction elements, at some point it truly becomes a story of interplay between a small group of people, and how they manifest their typically human flaws -- mistrust, jealousy, envy, paranoia -- in ways that are startling and disturbing."

Thus, Levinson discovered a thread that would tie this science-fiction thriller with the themes that inform his previous films: friendship, loyalty, betrayal, innocence and corruption.

The "Sphere" script, which was adapted by Kurt Wimmer, evolved through the contributions of Stephen Hauser, a former assistant to Barry Levinson; Paul Attanasio, a longtime collaborator with the filmmaker.

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