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
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
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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