Joseph Kosinski and Claudio Miranda didn't like the extensive use of blue screen mattes in TRON: Legacy (2010), that for this film, they wanted to use real glass, mirrors and shiny surfaces for the glass tower set. The sky footage was projected on a 500 by 45 feet screen consisting of 21 monitors taken from three weeks of footage of a volcano in Hawaii. The monitors took 10 technician weeks to install and fine tuning with floor-level rig support. In the end it had the actors complimenting the production team for that set design that as such Tom Cruise declared that the glass tower was one of his favorite film sets.
The painting on the wall showing a woman in a wheat field is titled "Christina's World" and was painted by the American artist Andrew Wyeth in 1948. The woman is based upon a real person who had been partially paralyzed due to polio. Wyeth was inspired to create this art when he saw her crawling across the field.
Tom Cruise celebrated his 50th birthday on the set. To celebrate the milestone, director Joseph Kosinski presented the star with one of the futuristic motorbikes from the film. Tom also gave the director a present of his own: a die-cast model of the bubble ship in a glass case.
Initially, Disney had acquired the rights to Joseph Kosinski's script in a heated auction. However, they later realized that making a PG-rated film based on the script would require a lot of story changes. The rights were subsequently acquired by Universal Pictures.
The Tower 49 set was built with giant screens on which video previously recorded by the director and his crew of the view from the summit of Haleakala volcano in Maui was projected. The rooms with windows were lit by the light from those projections to make the scenes look like they really were from a place perched above the clouds.
The Oblivion project originated as an 8-page treatment written by Joseph Kosinski which was pitched in 2007 to Barry Levine and Jesse Berger at Radical Publishing as a graphic novel. The project was subsequently developed into an illustrated novella released to coincide with the film release.
The sample "ash can" chapter of the novella was first distributed at San Diego Comic Con 2008 for free. The sample eventually ended up at the hands of Tom Cruise who approached Joseph Kosinski to develop the film and story. Development continued in background while Kosinski was working on TRON: Legacy (2010), with the film and the novella released at the same time to prevent spoilers.
In the flashback scene the fully constructed new World Trade Center buildings are visible in the background of a single shot when Jack holds up the ring in front of the binoculars. This movie is released in April 2013. The first tower was finished in October 2013. According to the story, this scene should take place in early 2017.
At Jack's house by the lake, he flips through a vinyl record collection and displays the following albums in order; Next in Line by Conway Twitty, first released in 1968; Rio by Duran Duran, first released in 1982; Some Enchanted Evening by Blue Oyster Cult, first released in 1978; Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones, first released in 1972; The Wall by Pink Floyd, first released in 1979; and Asia by Asia, first released in 1982.
Director Joseph Kosinski wanted a 4K version release, but budgetary constraints coupled with an additional six week post-production work prompted the idea to be abandoned, and the film was finished and released in 2K instead.
In his review of Oblivion for the National Public Radio program "Fresh Air with Terry Gross," David Edelstein admitted that he had such a hard time following the plot of this movie that he had to resort to reading the summary on the movie's Wikipedia entry and checking the IMDb Message Boards for the answers to some of his questions: "Confused? Everything will be made clear. Not in the movie itself, which is the most incoherent piece of storytelling in years, and had me crying what, what over the din of the explosions. It was Wikipedia's "Oblivion" entry that spelled out what was going on in the final flashback. And a few, but not all my complaints, were answered on an IMDB board in which posters argued over whether the problem was our lack of attention spans or atrocious screenwriting."
This is the second movie in a row in which Tom Cruise plays a character named "Jack". The first was the title character in Jack Reacher (2012). Much earlier, he portrayed yet another Jack in Legend (1985).
While Disney was holding the rights, the first draft of the script was written by William Monahan before it was ditched following the acquisition of the property by Universal. Michael Arndt also did additional uncredited rewrites to Karl Gajdusek's draft. However, Monahan was not credited.
When Julia is first found, she is in her sleep pod with her maiden name listed "J. Rusakova", someone with no known relationship with anyone else. Later, when Julia awakens by the cabin, she's in Jack's sleep pod with "J. Harper" inscribed on the front, her married name and the one she introduces herself with once the relationship is revealed.
Jack is Tech 49, which is the same number as Tom Cruise's age during filming. The tech who finds Julia at the end of the film is Tech 52, which happens three years later when Cruise would be 52 years old.