The dam broke. News just keeps flowing, with nothing outside consideration. Let’s get started on the March news roundup.
Catan TV and movie rights purchased.
Gail Katz, producer of /The Perfect Storm/, has bought the rights to the board game, The Settlers of Catan. While the purchasing of rights is just the first of many steps to get a movie or TV series made, it’s not a guarentee. Catan also has the interesting problem of having no set plot. Instead, players are in competition to settle the land of Catan, but may also trade with each other. The trading is the source of endless “wood for sheep” jokes amongst the game’s players.
Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar becoming TV series.
Starlin, creator of Guardians of the Galaxy, will also be the executive producer of the TV series. /Dreadstar/ will follow Vanth Dreadstar, sole surviror of the Milky Way galaxy, as he tries to end an war between two empires. No casting has been announced.
Fox greenlights Sandman spinoff.
Lucifer, a spinoff of Sandman, has been ordered by Fox. The original Lucifer had the lord of Hell giving up the title and moving to Earth to run a piano bar while interacting with other religious figures. The Fox series, though, has Lucifer assisting the Los Angeles police department in solving crimes.
New Alien movie to be directed by Neill Blomkamp.
Blomkamp, who directed /District 9/, has a deal with Fox to film a new /Alien/ movie. This film is separate from Ridley Scott’s Prometheus 2. Blomkamp’s movie will be a sequel to Aliens, and will bring back Sigourney Weaver as Ripley.
EL James to write script for 50 Shades sequel.
James, who wrote the 50 Shades trilogy, is exerting ownership and control and will be the scriptwriter for the next movie in the series. The sequel may be delayed as a result; James has not written a script before and the Valentine’s Day 2016 release date may not be possible. The sequel also needs a new director; Sam Taylor-Johnson will not be back after numerous fights with James on set during the filming.
MacGuyver may be getting a reboot TV series.
Lee Zlotoff, the creator of the original MacGuyver TV series, is working with the National Academy of Engineers on a crowdsourcing competition to find the next MacGuyver. The challenge – the new character must be a woman, who doesn’t necessarily need to be named MacGuyver. The prize is $5000 and working with a Hollywood producer to develop the script.
Netflix to make new Inspector Gadget, Danger Mouse series.
Netflix is becoming the newest source for series. Besides the Marvel offerings, Netflix will be adding animation to the lineup. First, Inspector Gadget, a 26-episode reboot of the classic cartoon, will start in March in the US and in other countries later. A revival of Danger Mouse, will follow.
Not to be outdone, Disney brings back Duck Tales.
Duck Tales, a staple of the late 80s and early 90s, is returning with new episodes on Disney XD in 2017. The same characters from the original will be in the new show.
The Search for More Money may become a reality.
Mel Brooks has said he wants to make Spaceballs: The Search for More Money. Nothing is confirmed, but the idea is to have the sequel come out after Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination may be adapted in near future.
Paramount Pictures may be signing a deal the lead the way to a movie adaptation of the novel. The novel’s been in development hell for twenty years, with Richard Gere and Paul W.S. Anderson being attached to the project. Talks are still early, though.
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl getting remade.
Taking the titular roles are Grace Helbigg and Dana Hart, both of whom are known through their work on YouTube. The original Electra Woman and Dyna Girl was a 1976 Sid and Marty Krofft series and starred a pre-Days of Our Lives Deidre Hall.
Adventure Time to become feature film.
Cartoon Networks’ Adventure Time is in development for an animated film. Chris McKay and Roy Lee, producers of The LEGO Movie and the upcoming The LEGO Batman Movie will produce the film.
John Barrowman to develop project from Heavy Metal.
Barrowman, known for his role of Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and Torchwood, will produce and star in The 49th Key, a miniseries based on a story by Erika Lewis that just started in the magazine, Heavy Metal, as of issue #273.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM being remade.
MGM will adapt the book by Robert C. O’Brien as a mix of live action and CGI. Adapted once before by Don Bluth as The Secret of NIHM, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM is about a widowed mouse who gets help from escaped lab rats to save her home and her son.
Valiant Comics bringing their characters to the movies.
DMG Entertainment of Beijing has invested in Valiant Comics and wants to bring the Valiant characters to the silver screen and television. Valiant has Bloodshot, Shadowman, and Archer and Armstrong already in development.
Live action Akira film delayed again.
The director attached to the project, James Collet-Serra, is taking time for himself after making the movies Non-Stop and Run All Night back-to-back. The fate of the adaptation is back in the hand of Warner Bros. The studio has been trying to cut the budget from the initial $180 million estimate down to between $60 and $70 million to offset the fan backlash currently happening. Warner has had the Akira adaptation in some form of development since 2002.
Sony working on an male-driven Ghostbusters remake.
The male-driven remake/reboot is being developed in parallel with the female-driven version. Sony is hoping to expand the franchise. Maybe the best approach for the movies is to borrow from the West End Games Ghostbusters role-playing game and set each movie as a separate Ghostbusters International franchise in different cities. Ghostbusters Tokyo: The Anime anyone?
Three Days of the Condor becoming a TV series.
The conspiracy thriller of the 70s is being developed for TV by Skydance and David Ellison. The original movie was itself adapted from the book, Six Days of the Condor, and involved a a CIA operative whose co-workers were murdered as part of a government cover-up.
Archie getting a reboot, new look.
In a possible first for the publisher, Archie Comics is getting a reboot and a new #1. Mark Waid and Fiona Staples will helm the title and will bring Archie to the 21st Century in appearance without taking away from what makes the character who he is. The re-imagining comes with Archie’s 75th anniversary and follows such works as AfterLife with Archie and the announced Riverdale TV series.
A third Tron movie is in the works.
A sequel to Tron: Legacy will be directed by Joseph Kosinski, who directed the previous Tron movie. The movie should follow from events in Legacy.
In 1982, the world of computing was vastly different than today. Desktop computers were still in their infancy, with popular machines being Commodore’s VIC-20 and Radio Shack’s TRS-80. Game consoles existed, but the video arcade was the home for video gaming, as machines ate a steady stream of quarters. Cyberpunk and the concept of cyberspace were still new, with John M. Ford leading the way in 1980; but, neither would be well known until the 1984 publication William Gibson’s Neuromancer. However, the visiuals of cyberspace got a boost from, of all places, Disney.
The early 80s saw Disney experimenting with releases, taking risks that the company normally had passed on. One of the experiments was an, at the time, animated project that would incorporate computer graphics in with the traditional techniques. The project evolved further, becoming a live-action film with computer animation enhancing the look. Tron was released in 1982 and performed well enough, bringing in double its budget of US$17 million, but received mixed reviews and was not nominated for an Academy Award for Special Effects because the use of computers was considered “cheating”*. The late Roger Ebert felt that Tron was not given due credit by audiences and critics alike and showcased it at his first Overlooked Film Festival in 1997.
Tron, though light on plot, is a beautiful movie. The film stock changed depending whether the action is in the real world or in cyberspace. The computer world was filmed in black and white with bright primary colours hand-drawn on to the film, creating a stark contrast. Tron created the base of most depictions of cyberspace and its denizens. Wendy Carlos’ musical score heightened the other-worldly nature of the digital realm. Tron, despite being ignored by audiences in general, proved to be influential, including leading to the works of Daft Punk and the creation of Pixar.
The plot of Tron is simple enough. Software engineer Kevin Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges, has been fired from ENCOM after alleging that his boss, Ed Dillenger, played by David Warner, had stolen several video games designed by Flynn. As a result, Flynn tries to hack into ENCOM’s computer but gets blocked by the Master Control Program set up by Dillenger. One of Flynn’s hack attempts has CLU, also played by Bridges, try sneaking through the system; CLU gets discovered and is de-rezzed by a Recognizer. Meanwhile, Alan Bradley, played by Bruce Boxleitner,, one of Flynn’s friends and former co-workers, has a security program, Tron, that monitors communication between the MCP and the real world. Flynn convinces Bradley to get him back inside to increase Tron’s security clearance. However, the MCP has reached artificial intelligence and is actively protecting itself. The MCP uses a laser to digitize Flynn into the Game Grid. On the Grid, Flynn finds himself a prisoner of the MCP, forced to participate in gladiatorial games based off the video games he and others programmed at ENCOM. With the help of Tron, Flynn escapes and works towards the overthrow of the MCP in order to return to the real world.
Since Tron‘s release, the movie’s influence grew. As mentioned, without Tron, there would be no Pixar. In 2008, Tron was nominated for the American Film Institute’s Top Ten Science Fiction Films, although the movie didn’t make the list. The visuals have infused themselves into pop consciousness; depictions of cyberspace resemble Tron‘s grid.
In 2010 Disney released Tron: Legacy, a sequel and reboot of Tron. The world of gaming changed in the almost thirty years since the release of the original. The video arcade, mainstay of the 80s, has all but disappeared. Console gaming is far more widespread, as is the Internet. Keeping the feel of the original Tron while incorporating modern graphics and sensibilities had to be balanced with the capabilities of CGI. Back for Legacy was both Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner reprising their roles from Tron. Time had passed for their characters, with Kevin Flynn having a son, Sam, played by Garret Hedlund, and then going missing in 1989, Sam has long lost his belief that his father will return by the start of the film, but a page brings him to Flynn’s Arcade. Sam snoops around and finds a computer still on, waiting for input. Sam logs in, and gets digitized to the Grid. He’s picked up by a Recognizer, which now looks even more ominous. Sam is sentenced to the Games, where he’s recognized by a semi-feral program called Rinzler as a user. The film continues with Sam’s fight to escape, the discovery of his father and the last of the isomorphic algorithms, and the race to return to the gateway to get back to the real world. The concept of Zen plays heavily in the film as the chess match between Flynn and CLU turns into first a game of Go then into a game of Roborally**.
As a reboot and sequel, the movie does well. The Grid is bleaker than in Tron, and an explanation is given for why the blossoming of colour at the end of the first movie is gone. The story in both Tron and Tron: Legacy is Kevin Flynn’s; Sam may be the mover and shaker in Legacy, but it is his father’s story that comes to a close. The music, by Tron fans Daft Punk, again adds to the otherworldlyness of the computer realm and adds a sense of menace that Wendy Carlos didn’t have. Legacy is just as beautiful as the original.
Next week, the pitfalls of adapting games.
* Times have changed indeed. Life of Pi won the Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects in 2013 with heavy use of CGI.
** Not so much because there’s robots, but because even carefully laid plans in Roborally can be completely derailed thanks to an unforeseen random element.