On the surface, Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Gravity’ seems like it could be a major contender for the 2014 Oscars. Lead actors George Clooney and Sandra Bullock each already have Oscars on their shelves. Cuaron, himself, has been nominated three times (for ‘Children of Men’ and ‘Y Tu Mama, Tambien’) and appears to be an Academy favorite. Bu,t does Warner Bros. view ‘Gravity’ as an awards contender, or as a white-knuckle sci-fi thriller from a masterful filmmaker with two A-list stars at his disposal?

News that dropped this morning points to the former.

IndieWire notes that ‘Gravity’ will open this year’s Venice Film Festival on August 28, putting it in prime position for a sprint through the fall film festival trifecta of Venice, Toronto and Telluride.

The exposure a film receives by opening a prestigious festival like Venice can be very valuable on the Oscar campaign, providing the movie delivers the goods. But the Venice opening slot doesn’t automatically guarantee awards success. Just ask last year’s opening night film, Mira Nair’s 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist.' We forgive you if you’ve never heard of it; the movie never gained traction in Venice and quietly faded away.

We have much higher hopes for ‘Gravity,’ which casts Clooney and Bullock as astronauts working on an orbiting space station who encounter serious issues and must fight impossible odds to get back home. The film’s initial trailer suggests gorgeous sci-fi cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki and a claustrophobic runtime as ‘Gravity’ follows our stars as they float through the pitch-black recesses of outer space.

We dare you to watch the trailer (below) without holding your breath. The Venice nod is a boost of confidence in Cuaron’s space thriller, which we fully expect to play subsequent film festivals as it makes its way to an October 4 release date (and possibly even a Comic-Con 2013 appearance).

Do you think Warner has a potential Best Picture contender on its hands?