2010: The Year We Make Contact

2010: The Year We Make Contact (abbreviated on-screen as simply 2010) is a 1984 American science fiction film written, produced, shot and directed by Peter Hyams. It is a sequel to Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey and is based on Arthur C. Clarke's 1982 sequel novel, 2010: Odyssey Two. The film stars Roy Scheider (replacing William Sylvester), Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban and John Lithgow, along with Keir Dullea and Douglas Rain of the cast of the previous film.

2010: The Year We Make Contact
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Hyams
Screenplay byPeter Hyams
Based on2010: Odyssey Two
by Arthur C. Clarke
Produced byPeter Hyams
CinematographyPeter Hyams
Edited by
  • James Mitchell
  • Mia Goldman
Music byDavid Shire
Distributed byMGM/UA Entertainment Co.
Release date
  • December 7, 1984 (1984-12-07)
Running time
116 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
BudgetUS$28 million[2]
Box officeUS$40.4 million (North America)[3]


It is nine years after the mysterious failure of the Discovery One mission to Jupiter in 2001, which resulted in the deaths of four crew members and the disappearance of mission commander David Bowman. Blamed for the fiasco, Dr. Heywood Floyd resigned his position as head of the National Council for Astronautics.

While an international dispute causes tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, both nations prepare space missions to determine what happened to the Discovery; the Soviet spacecraft Leonov (named after the cosmonaut Alexei Leonov) will be ready nearly a year before the American spacecraft Discovery Two, but the Soviets need American astronauts to help board the Discovery and investigate the malfunction of the ship's sentient computer, HAL 9000, which caused the disaster. The U.S. government agrees to a joint mission when it is determined that Discovery will crash into Jupiter's moon Io before Discovery Two is ready. Floyd, along with Discovery designer Walter Curnow and HAL 9000's creator Dr. Chandra, joins the Soviet mission.

Upon arriving at Jupiter, the crew detects signs of life on Jupiter's seemingly barren moon Europa. They send an unmanned probe down to Europa to investigate the unusual readings, but just as it finds the source, a mysterious energy burst destroys the probe and its data. The "burst" then flies toward Jupiter. The Soviets believe the burst was simply electrostatic build-up, but Floyd suspects it was a warning to stay away from Europa.

After surviving a dangerous braking maneuver around Jupiter's upper atmosphere, the Leonov crew find the abandoned Discovery adrift in orbit over Io. Curnow reactivates the ship and Chandra restarts HAL, who had been deactivated by Bowman before he disappeared. Also nearby is the giant alien Monolith that the Discovery was originally sent to investigate. Cosmonaut Max Brailovsky travels to the Monolith in an EVA pod, at which point the Monolith briefly opens with a burst of energy, destroying Max's pod.

On Earth, Dave Bowman, now an incorporeal being, appears on his wife's television screen to tell her goodbye, and that "something wonderful" is going to happen. He then visits his comatose mother in a nursing home. She briefly awakens and delights in her son's unseen presence, then dies peacefully.

Aboard the Discovery, Chandra discovers the reasons for HAL's malfunction: The National Security Council had ordered HAL to conceal from the Discovery's crew the fact that the mission was about the Monolith, and programmed him to complete the mission alone; this conflicted with HAL's basic programming of open, accurate processing of information, causing him to suffer the computer equivalent of a paranoid mental breakdown. Although the order bears his signature, Floyd angrily denies any knowledge of the NSC's actions.

Back on Earth tension between the United States and the Soviet Union escalates to the brink of war, and the Americans are ordered to leave the Leonov and move to the Discovery, with communication with each other forbidden except in an emergency. Both crews plan to leave Jupiter separately when a launch window opens in several weeks' time, but Bowman appears to Floyd and says it is paramount that everyone leave within two days. Stunned by Bowman's appearance, Floyd returns to the Leonov to confer with Captain Tanya Kirbuk, who remains skeptical. The Monolith then suddenly disappears, and a growing black spot appears on Jupiter itself. This convinces the two crews that they must leave soon. Since neither ship can reach Earth with an early departure, they work together using the Discovery as a booster rocket for the Leonov by attaching it onto the Discovery, though it will mean using all of Discovery's fuel.

HAL reveals that the spot is actually a vast group of Monoliths that are exponentially multiplying. The Monoliths begin shrinking Jupiter's volume, increasing the planet's density, and modifying its chemical composition. Unaware of the urgency of the humans' departure, HAL suggests to Chandra to stop the launch and remain to study Jupiter's conversion. When Chandra finally tells HAL the truth, and that the Discovery and HAL may be destroyed, HAL understands, and willingly continues the countdown to save the humans, thanking Chandra for telling him the truth. As the humans depart, Bowman speaks to HAL, asking him to transmit a priority message, and that HAL will soon be where Bowman is. The Monoliths engulf Jupiter, causing nuclear fusion that transforms the planet into a small star, while the Leonov barely escapes the shockwave. Just before the Discovery is destroyed, HAL transmits this message to Earth:


The Leonov safely returns to Earth with Floyd, Chandra, and Curnow re-entering hibernation. Floyd narrates how the new star's miraculous appearance, and the message from a mysterious alien power, inspire the American and Soviet leaders to seek peace. Under its infant sun, icy Europa transforms into a humid jungle covered with plant life, and a Monolith appears, waiting for intelligent life to evolve.


In addition, background crew members on the Leonov are played by Victor Steinbach and Jan Triska, while Herta Ware briefly appears as Bowman's mother. Candice Bergen, credited as "Olga Mallsnerd", voices the SAL 9000.

Arthur C. Clarke, author of the novels for 2001 and 2010, appears as a man on a park bench outside the White House (visible in the letterboxed and widescreen versions). In addition, a Time magazine cover about the American–Soviet tension is briefly shown, in which the President of the United States is portrayed by Clarke and the Soviet Premier by the 2001 film's writer, producer and director, Stanley Kubrick.


Development and filmingEdit

When Clarke published his novel 2010: Odyssey Two in 1982, he telephoned Stanley Kubrick, and jokingly said, "Your job is to stop anybody [from] making it [into a movie] so I won't be bothered."[4] Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer subsequently worked out a contract to make a film adaptation, but Kubrick had no interest in directing it. However, Peter Hyams was interested and contacted both Clarke and Kubrick for their blessings:

I had a long conversation with Stanley and told him what was going on. If it met with his approval, I would do the film; and if it didn't, I wouldn't. I certainly would not have thought of doing the film if I had not gotten the blessing of Kubrick. He's one of my idols; simply one of the greatest talents that's ever walked the Earth. He more or less said, 'Sure. Go do it. I don't care.' And another time he said, 'Don't be afraid. Just go do your own movie.'[4]

While he was writing the screenplay in 1983, Hyams (in Los Angeles) began communicating with Clarke (in Sri Lanka) via the then-pioneering medium of e-mail using Kaypro II computers and direct-dial modems. They discussed the planning and production of the film almost daily using this method, and their informal, often humorous correspondence was published in 1984 as The Odyssey File. As it focuses on the screenwriting and pre-production process, the book terminates on February 7, 1984 just before the movie is about to start filming, though it does include 16 pages of behind-the-scenes photographs from the film.[5][6]

Principal photography on the film began in February 1984 for a 71-day schedule. The majority of the film was shot on MGM's soundstages in Culver City, California, with the exception of a week of location work in Washington, D.C., Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and at the Very Large Array in New Mexico.[7] Originally, Hyams had intended to film the opening scene at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, home of the world's largest radio telescope, but after visiting there in 1983, he told Clarke that the site was "truly filthy" and unsuitable for filming.[5]


Initially, Tony Banks, keyboardist for the band Genesis, was commissioned to do the soundtrack for 2010: The Year We Make Contact. However, Banks' material was rejected[8] and David Shire was then selected to compose the soundtrack, which he co-produced along with Craig Huxley. The soundtrack album was released by A&M Records.

Unlike many film soundtracks up until then, the soundtrack for 2010: The Year We Make Contact was composed for and played mainly using digital synthesizers. These included the Synclavier by the New England Digital company and a Yamaha DX1. Only two compositions on the soundtrack album feature a symphony orchestra. Shire and Huxley were so impressed by the realistic sound of the Synclavier that they placed a disclaimer in the album's liner notes stating "No re-synthesis or sampling was employed on the Synclavier."[9]

Andy Summers, guitarist for the band The Police, performed a track entitled "2010", which was a modern new-wave pop version of Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra (which had been the main theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey). Though Summers' recording was included on the soundtrack album and released as a single, it was not used in the film. For the B-side to the single, Summers recorded another 2010-based track entitled "To Hal and Back", though this appeared in neither the film nor the soundtrack album.[10][11]


Box officeEdit

2010: The Year We Make Contact debuted at number two at the North American box office, taking $7,393,361 for its opening weekend.[12] It was held off from the top spot by Beverly Hills Cop, which became that year's highest-grossing film in North America. During its second week, the film faced competition from two other new sci-fi films; John Carpenter's Starman and David Lynch's Dune,[13] but ultimately outgrossed both by the end of its domestic theatrical run. It finished with just over $40 million at the domestic box office and was the 17th-highest-grossing film in North America to be released in 1984.[14]

Comic bookEdit

In 1984, Marvel Comics published a 48-page comic book adaptation of the film by writer J. M. DeMatteis and artists Joe Barney, Larry Hama and Tom Palmer. It was published both as a single volume in Marvel Super Special #37[15] and as a two-issue miniseries.[16]

Home mediaEdit

2010: The Year We Make Contact was first released on home video and laserdisc in 1985, and on DVD (R1) in 1998 by MGM. It was re-issued (with different artwork) in September 2000. Both releases are presented with the soundtrack remastered in Dolby 5.1 surround sound and in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, though a packaging error appears on the 2000 Warner release, claiming that the film is presented in anamorphic widescreen when, in reality, it is simply 4:3 letterboxed and not anamorphic (the MGM version of the DVD makes no such claim). The R1 and R4 releases also include the film trailer and a 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette 2010: The Odyssey Continues (made at the time of the film's production), though this is not available in other regions.

The film was released on Blu-ray Disc on April 7, 2009. It features a BD-25 single-layer presentation, now in high-definition 16:9 (2.40:1) widescreen with 1080p/VC-1 video and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround audio. In all regions, the disc also includes the film's original "making of" promotional featurette (as above) and theatrical trailer in standard definition as extras.


Critical receptionEdit

Critical reaction to 2010: The Year We Make Contact was generally positive. It holds a 66% "Fresh" rating with an average score of 5.78/10 on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 35 reviews. The critical consensus reads, "2010 struggles to escape from the shadow of its monolithic predecessor, but offers brainy adventure in a more straightforward voyage through the cosmos."[17] Roger Ebert gave 2010: The Year We Make Contact three stars out of four, writing that "It doesn't match the poetry and the mystery of the original film, but it does continue the story, and it offers sound, pragmatic explanations for many of the strange and visionary things in 2001." Ebert also wrote it "has an ending that is infuriating, not only in its simplicity, but in its inadequacy to fulfill the sense of anticipation, the sense of wonder we felt at the end of 2001". He concluded, however: "And yet the truth must be told: This is a good movie. Once we've drawn our lines, once we've made it absolutely clear that 2001 continues to stand absolutely alone as one of the greatest movies ever made, once we have freed 2010 of the comparisons with Kubrick's masterpiece, what we are left with is a good-looking, sharp-edged, entertaining, exciting space opera".[18]

James Berardinelli also gave the film three stars out of four, writing that "2010 continues 2001 without ruining it. The greatest danger faced by filmmakers helming a sequel is that a bad installment will in some way sour the experience of watching the previous movie. This does not happen here. Almost paradoxically, 2010 may be unnecessary, but it is nevertheless a worthwhile effort."[19] Vincent Canby gave 2010: The Year We Make Contact a lukewarm review, calling it "a perfectly adequate though not really comparable sequel" that "is without wit, which is not to say that it is witless. A lot of care has gone into it, but it has no satirical substructure to match that of the Kubrick film, and which was eventually responsible for that film's continuing popularity."[20]

Colin Greenland reviewed 2010 for Imagine magazine, and stated that "a tense space drama with excellent performances from Helen Mirren and John Lithgow, and glorious special effects. For everyone who was mystified by 2001."[21]

Awards and nominationsEdit

2010: The Year We Make Contact was nominated for five Academy Awards:[22][23]

The film was also nominated for three Saturn Awards; Best Science Fiction Film, Best Costumes (Patricia Norris), and Best Special Effects (Richard Edlund).[24] It won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1985.[25]


  1. ^ "2010". British Board of Film Classification. Archived from the original on December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  2. ^ Hughes, Mark (November 8, 2014). "Top 10 Best Space Travel Films Of All Time". Forbes.com. p. 1. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  3. ^ "2010 (1984)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  4. ^ a b LoBrutto 1997, p. 456.[citation not found]
  5. ^ a b Arthur C. Clarke and Peter Hyams. The Odyssey File. Ballantine Books, 1984.
  6. ^ Rothman, David H. (November 16, 1982). "The Arthur C. Clarke chapter of The Silicon Jungle". DavidRothman.com. Archived from the original on September 19, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  7. ^ 2010: The Odyssey Continues (video). 1984.
  8. ^ Tony Banks interview, WorldOfGenesis.com
  9. ^ 2010 Official Soundtrack Album (cat: AMA 5038). Liner notes: All of the original music, with the exception of "New Worlds" and the second half of "New Worlds Theme" was entirely synthesized using the New England Digital Synclavier II, Yamaha DX-1 and Roland Jupiter-8. The Blaster Beam was used on "Reactivating Discovery". No resynthesis or sampling was employed on the Synclavier. All electronic music was recorded with an Amek 3500 mixing desk and Otari MTR 90 24-track recorder and remixed to a Mitsubishi X-80 digital recorder.
  10. ^ Andy Summers "2010" (AM 2704)
  11. ^ "Andy Summers - 2010". Discogs.
  12. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for December 7-9, 1984 - Box Office Mojo". boxofficemojo.com.
  13. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for December 14-16, 1984 - Box Office Mojo". boxofficemojo.com.
  14. ^ "1984 Yearly Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo". boxofficemojo.com.
  15. ^ "GCD :: Issue :: Marvel Super Special #37". comics.org.
  16. ^ 2010 at the Grand Comics Database
  17. ^ "2010: The Year We Make Contact Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  18. ^ "2010". RogerEbert.suntimes.com. January 1, 1984. Archived from the original on May 13, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  19. ^ "2010: A Film Review by James Berardinelli". Reelviews.net. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  20. ^ Canby, Vincent (December 7, 1984). "Movie Review - 2010 - '2010,' PURSUES THE MYSTERY OF '2001'". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  21. ^ Greenland, Colin (April 1985). "Fantasy Media". Imagine (review). TSR Hobbies (UK), Ltd. (25): 47.
  22. ^ "The 57th Academy Awards (1985) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  23. ^ "2010 — Awards". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2009. Archived from the original on June 4, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2009.
  24. ^ "Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA". imdb.com.
  25. ^ "1985 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. Archived from the original on May 7, 2011.

External linksEdit