It's raining remakes with Will Smith on 'Forbin' and Sam Raimi on 'Triffids'
There will come a point soon where we will be able to set at least two versions of every single film ever made on a shelf. And on that day, I look forward to having a party with my friends to watch Michael Bay's 3D PG-13 $500 million version of "Salo."
Until then, I'll have to content myself with the constant avalanche of remakes of titles both obscure and obvious by artists big and small. At this point, I just marvel at the weird combinations of things. Who wants to see Matthew McConaughey take a shot at "Sargent York"? Or how about Shia LaBeouf in "The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad"? Doesn't make any sense? Doesn't matter! We'll just remake it again in five years anyway!
I'm amazed when little skirmishes break out, bidding wars over rights packages that have been around for a while, but that's a testament to a producer or a writer or a director suddenly making something old look brand-new and exciting. This week, two SF titles have suddenly come roaring back to life with talent attachments and announcements, and despite my irritation with this culture, they both sound like they've got real potential.
Will Smith has become a go-to choice in making big event action movie versions of SF classics. "I Am Legend" and "I Robot" both took strong source material and turned it into decent but surface-level movies. Only time will tell how Jason Rothenberg has adapted both the original novel Colossus and the 1970 film "Colossus: The Forbin Project" into a new film which is, for the moment, called "The Forbin Project."
It's the story of a supercomputer artificial intelligence that basically goes all Frankenstein and tries to take over the world. I expect Will Smith to punch it.
Ron Howard will direct Will Smith in the film, although there's no word on when that will happen. Rothenberg is moving on to "The Twilight Zone," which we'll actually be talking about in the next article I post after this one, because it's worth a separate conversation. If he's moving on, though, that may mean the script for "The Forbin Project" is ready to go. Universal and Imagine haven't officially announced a start for the film at this time.
The other project is the one I find really intriguing. John Wyndham was a hell of a writer, a British SF novelist whose work has been adapted to film repeatedly. Now Mandate Pictures and Sam Raimi's Ghost House will be working together on a new film version of "Day Of The Triffids," which Raimi cites as one of his favorite films when he was young. The rights package was in play this week as Warner Bros. and David Yates were also bidding on it, and I'm not surprised Raimi got aggressive about this one. The rights were held by producers Michael Preger, Susan Montford, Don Murphy, and Mark Gordon.
The original film version of "Triffids" was released in 1962, and it's a great slow burn about what happens when most of the world is struck blind during an alien invasion, only to be picked off by carnivorous plants called Triffids. Just last year, Dougray Scott, Joely Richardson, Eddie Izzard, and Brian Cox all starred in a two part version for English television. Wyndham's novel The Midwich Cuckoos has also been filmed twice as "Village Of The Damned," to dissatisfying results.
There's real potential here, and Raimi would knock this type of SF/horror out of the park. I'm curious to see who they hire as screenwriter, and I hope they treat it like the A-list material it is. For Raimi to make a version that stands apart, it's going to take some real vision from all involved.
As always, we'll keep you posted on these as they work their way through the development and, maybe, production process in the months and years ahead.