Go behind-the-scenes on The Mummy's real life Zero G plane stunt

Remember the head-spinning plane sequence from The Mummy trailer? Incredibly, that stunt was done for real using something called a 'Vomit Comet', which astronauts use to train before blasting off into space. 

GR+ got the lowdown from The Mummy director Alex Kurtzman when the trailer was first released (read the full story below), but Universal Pictures has now released a behind-the-scenes video showing just how that sequence was filmed. And I have to say, there's nothing quite like seeing it first hand. 

The original article continues below...

We live in the age of the green screen. Nothing is as it seems. Dragons aren't real (sorry), Superman doesn't actually throw humans through skyscrapers, and chances are that every Marvel conclusion took place without a single naked flame present. No, that isn't a Hulk without his shorts joke. It's nice to know then that it's not smoke and mirrors all the time. The first trailer for The Mummy has a horribly realistic plane crash and it turns out that director Alex Kurtzman and Tom Cruise decided to make it as real as possible. With the help of a "rotisserie". Yes, really. No chickens here though.  

"When we decided we were going to do this plane crash sequence, I said to Tom, 'OK, let’s make this as real as possible. We’re going to build a set. We’re going to build a rotisserie,'" Kurtzman tells GR+. "We’re going to rotate it around so that you can actually be falling through the space. Let’s try not to do wires. Let’s just make it feel real. He said, 'Yeah, great. Well, let’s do that, but let’s also do it for real.' I said, 'What is that?' He said, 'Let’s do it in a real plane.'"

While this sounds insane, not to mention expensive, Cruise and Kurtzman went on the hunt for ways to make things even more true to life. "That’s how I found about this place called the 'Vomit Comet', which is where they train astronauts," explains Kurtzman. "I believe the other movie that shot in the 'Vomit Comet' was Apollo 13. So here’s how the 'Vomit Comet' works. You rock it up with the Gs of a rocket going to space. You flat out – you even out – and then you drop for 22 seconds in straight freefall. In that freefall, you go weightless. When you even out again, gravity returns at twice its weight. So it’s a really intense thing for your body, physically. But what happens is, for that 22 seconds, you’re just getting crazy things – like, unbelievable things."

Thus half of the sequence was shot on the rotisserie set and the other half on a plane that's literally named after what it does to your stomach, all in the quest for perfect realism. "We had people from the FAA talking to us. Our visual effects supervisor is a pilot and also has jumped out of a plane many times. So we were always trying to adhere to the law of physics. What would really happen?" Kurtzman confirms. "What we ended up doing was not only building the rotisserie but actually replicating the exact set on the zero G plane. So we had to retrofit the inside of the zero G plane to look exactly like that, so I could cut between the two locations and you’d never know that they weren’t the same space. So that’s how we did it."

So no, that's not Cruise and his co-star Annabelle Wallis on strings that have been erased, it's literally them moving around in zero G and, as Kurtzman explains, it's ridiculously unpredictable. "The thing is, you can prep it and you can rehearse it – you do that to within an inch of your life. But the thing about going in real zero gravity is that you don’t know what‘s going to happen. Anything can happen," he says.

"That’s the beauty of it, because everything is totally unpredictable once you go there. The other thing that it gives you is – rather than creating that sequence in cuts where it starts to feel like it’s kind of fabricated – I can just hold on that shot and not come out of it, and just watch these characters have to go through it. That creates another kind of experience, because now you’re going, “Oh wow. They’re really floating.” You know what I mean? They’re really falling." 

If you want to know even more about the trailer and its seriously vengeful undead princess, check out our full The Mummy trailer breakdown with director Alex Kurtzman.

Directed by Alex Kurtzman and starring Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, and Annabelle Wallis, The Mummy hits US and UK cinemas on June 9, 2017. 

Images: Universal

Louise Blain

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in gaming, technology, and entertainment. She is the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s monthly Sound of Gaming show and has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland. She can also be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, Netflix UK's YouTube Channel, and on The Evolution of Horror podcast. As well as her work on GamesRadar, Louise writes for NME, T3, and TechRadar. When she’s not working, you can probably find her watching horror movies or playing an Assassin’s Creed game and getting distracted by Photo Mode.