Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, is to open the 70th Venice International Film Festival (VIFF).

The astronaut thriller will play out of competition at the festival, which runs August 28 to September 7.

The world premiere of Gravity will be screened in 3D on August 28 in the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema at the Lido, following the opening ceremony.

Cuarón’s history with the festival dates back to 2001, when his film Y tu mamá también won the Golden Osella for Best Screenplay (by Carlos and Alfonso Cuarón) and the Marcello Mastroianni Award (Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna).

In 2006, Cuarón’s Children of Men won the Golden Osella for Best Cinematography, honoring Emmanuel Lubezki, who is also the director of photography on Gravity. And in 2007, Gravity’s co-writer Jonás Cuarón premiered his directorial debut Año Uña during Critics’ Week in Venice.

In Gravity, Bullock plays a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with a veteran astronaut (Clooney). But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes and the shuttle is destroyed, leaving the pair completely alone - tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness.

The film will be distributed worldwide in 3D, 2D and IMAX, by Warner Bros. Pictures.

The last time Venice opened with a science fiction movie was in 2000 with Clint Eastwood’s Space Cowboys, at the 57th Film Festival.

VIFF is directed by Alberto Barbera and organized by the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta.