Two years ago came word that New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi had been hired to ‘crack’ a “Flash Gordon” movie for 20th Century Studios.
The plan was to figure out how to bring the pulpy 1930s sci-fi adventurer to life on the big screen with a modern sensibility. At the time it was also for an animated feature.
Now though, producer John Davis tells Collider that the project is instead being developed as a live-action film and Waititi is writing it:
“Taika is writing it. It was a movie that was a huge influence on him growing up. It is one of his favorite movies. He initially said to me, ‘Let’s do it animated.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ Then we got into it and started developing it and he said, ‘No, let’s do it live-action.’ I said, ‘Even better.’”
Waititi’s love for the property is a little on display in his Marvel Studios title “Thor: Ragnarok” and, despite a full dance card with a “Star Wars” film also in the works, Davis says Waititi’s updated take will surprise audiences:
“He has the most fantastically interesting vision for this movie. And you can only know it is Taika. It is what he does. It is the way he looks at the world. He is the greatest guy in the world. He is the funniest guy in the world. And he thinks on a different plain. And this movie embraces everything that’s special about Taika, and his vision. It harkens in a very interesting way to the original conception from the comics.”
Gordon debuted in a 1934 comic strip, an athlete from Earth who gets unwittingly drawn into an interstellar conflict with the evil leadership of the planet Mongo, led by the ruler Ming the Merciless.
The property was adapted for the screen in the 1930s as serial adventures, though many people alive today mostly remember it for the iconic and campy as anything 1980s cult classic film starring Max von Sydow and Sam Jones and with a soundtrack by Queen. A short-lived cheap Canadian TV series remake of the property was also made in the early 2000s.
Before Waitit’s involvement, “Overlord” filmmaker Julius Avery had been linked to an earlier live-action incarnation. Waititi’s not confirmed as director, but Davis says that this is “going to be Taika-ready” if he wants and Waititi’s enthusiasm has remained steadfast since they first discussed it six years ago.
He adds: “Only he’s going to be able to direct this movie because only he should direct this movie. It is special.” He also says “we’ll wait for him” and adds that Waititi is capable of shooting more than one film a year.