Warner Bros. Pictures has signed the lead for its next "big" movie debuting in 2010 — a principal that is no stranger to working with the stars.
The studio announced Monday that in cooperation with NASA, an IMAX 3D camera will be aboard the space shuttle when it launches its final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2008.
The large-format film will use the footage taken by the STS-125 crew to share the "life story" of the orbiting observatory.
"A decade ago we made a film that briefly touched on the subject of Hubble, but back then its first images were just coming in," said IMAX producer and director Toni Myers of her 1994 IMAX film "Destiny in Space."
"Today, we have Hubble's entire phenomenal legacy of data to explore. With IMAX 3D, we can transport people to galaxies that are literally 13 billion light years away. Real star travel is here at last."
The Hubble film will mark Warner Bros.' first venture into filming in space.
"Our original IMAX 3D releases have already put audiences in the driver's seat of a NASCAR racecar and taken them swimming with some of the most exotic undersea creatures on earth, and now we look forward to transporting them to the far reaches of the universe," said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.' domestic distribution president. "Warner Bros. and IMAX have collaborated on 20 films over the last four years, and we are excited to share our next endeavor — the IMAX 3D space film — with our audience."
The Hubble servicing mission, NASA's fifth since the space telescope was launched in 1990, is planned as an 11-day flight.
After reaching orbit, the shuttle's crew will rendezvous with the observatory on the third day of the flight and using the orbiter's mechanical arm, will place the telescope on a work platform in the cargo bay.
Five separate spacewalks will be needed to accomplish all of the mission's objectives.
Among the work scheduled is the installation of two new instruments, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), along with the replacement of one of the Hubble's three fine guidance sensors and an attempted repair of the Advanced Camera for Surveys, which stopped working in January 2007.
The mission is designed to extend the working life of the Hubble through two decades of service.
"We are thrilled that people from around the world will experience this vital servicing mission from a front row seat," said Shana Dale, NASA's deputy administrator. "Audiences will be mesmerized as they are transported to the distant galaxies of the universe."
As with previous space-based IMAX films, Warner Bros. will not launch a production team but rather use the crew as their cameramen.
Veteran astronaut Scott Altman will command STS-125 with Navy Reserve Capt. Gregory C. Johnson as his pilot.
Mission specialists John Grunsfeld, Michael Massimino, Andrew Feustel, Michael Good and K. Megan McArthur will perform spacewalks and maneuver the shuttle's robot arm during the flight.
Altman, Grunsfeld and Massimino are making a return visit the Hubble: all three were crew members on STS-109, the fourth servicing mission, and Grunsfeld also served on the prior visit, STS-103 in 1999.
Warner Bros.' Hubble movie will be the seventh IMAX film to be shot in space and only the second to use the three-dimensional camera in orbit.
Earlier releases, produced in cooperation with Lockheed Martin, include "Hail Columbia" (1982), "The Dream is Alive" (1985), "Blue Planet" (1990), "Destiny in Space" (1995), "Mission to Mir" (1997) and "Space Station 3D" (2002).