Last year, a really cool fan-created “modern trailer” for cheesy 80’s sci-fi classic The Last Starfighter popped up online. The cult-favourite flick about a video gamer who gets drafted by an alien to fight in an interstellar war has garnered many fans over the years, and after seeing that trailer many of them – including some Hollywood A-listers like Seth Rogen and Gary Whitta – started wondering how it was that Hollywood had not yet aimed it’s Remake Rays at such a beloved title.
But a little bit of digging revealed that several people had in fact actually tried to do it over, including such power players as Steven Spielberg, but every single one of them kept coming up against the same insurmountable obstacle: Jonathan R. Betuel, the original film’s writer, had all the film rights, and absolutely refused to do anything with them. Please note: I said “refused”. Past tense. That’s because according to a report from Variety, Betuel is finally reviving the franchise, but this time it’s headed to the small screen and with a very unique modern twist.
Betuel is reportedly developing a new TV show titled Starfighter Chronicles that won’t be a remake or continuation of the events of the film, but instead will now be “a serialized story about alien law enforcement” that is more “about instilling a moral code” than the original. Okay, then. You may have lost me a bit there.
Deviating from the original’s basic premise isn’t the only major change though, as this new show will be boasting some VR integration. While normal TV owners will be able to watch it just like any other traditional TV show, “it would also feature special scenes that break the frame, allowing viewers equipped with virtual reality headsets to look around and explore the inside of a spaceship or immerse themselves in an alien firefight.” Okay, you got me back again.
To develop this ambitious idea, Betuel is teaming up with Andy Vick and Rick Rey, co-founders of new VR entertainment company Surreal.tv and huge fans of the original movie, who described this project as a “dream come true”. The duo are hoping that Starfighter Chronicles proves itself to be the much needed big hit that draws the masses into adopting the rapidly developing but still under-utilized VR technology, and gets them to forget the fact that you kind of look like like an idiot watching TV while wearing a headset.
At this point, the show is still quite early in development, and while Betuel and co have had some early talks with possibly interested parties, there’s no telling whether any of the major networks would be willing to take a gamble on a mixed-media show like this. Personally, while I don’t think the VR market will be anywhere close to big enough to have this truly work on the scale the creators want, I can’t deny that being able to be “inside” an alien spaceship will be pretty cool. Not as cool though as either doing a proper big budget remake of the original or – and I know this may sound crazy – not doing a remake at all.
Oh and the reason why Betuel held out on the rights for so long, when so many other high profile suitors were looking to do something with it? According to him, he just didn’t know that he actually had the rights. Seriously.
Here’s the film’s original trailer.
Last Updated: July 16, 2015