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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) cemented Stanley Kubrick's reputation as Hollywood's most visionary director. Many accounts attribute its success to Kubrick's calculated artistic decisions and the film's countercultural appeal; however, 2001's production and reception histories as well as archival evidence reveal that collaborators intervened to bolster its performance after shaky theatrical premieres. This essay charts how MGM and other partners employed strategies to mitigate initial frustrations with 2001's unconventional properties. These improvised efforts gradually helped audiences contend with the film's ambiguities. This ultimately fostered Kubrick's enduring brand and aligned him with European art-cinema auteurs and proto-transmedia storytelling.