Legendary has closed a deal with academy award winning screenwriter Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”) to rewrite the television adaptation of “Buck Rogers,” TheWrap has exclusively learned.
Helgeland previously worked with Legendary on the critically-acclaimed Jackie Robinson biopic, “42,” starring the late Chadwick Boseman, which he wrote and directed.
“Transformers” producer Don Murphy and “Real Steal” producer Susan Montford will produce via their Angry Films banner along with Flint Dille, the grandson of the original Buck Rogers creator.
George Clooney is also executive producing the project along with Grant Heslov via their Smokehouse banner. Clooney called Hegeland to see if he knew the character, and it turns out Helgeland was a fan of the project and had a take immediately. The project is being fast tracked at Legendary.
The project is based on the “Armageddon 2419 A.D.” novella by Philip Francis Nowlan that introduced the Buck Rogers character in 1928. The story centers on a coal mine inspector who awakens from suspended animation after 500 years to find himself in the middle of a planetary war.
“Buck Rogers” has been adapted into various comic strips, a movie serial, radio and television shows. Developed by Chicago newspaperman John F. Dille in the 1930s, it immediately became one of the world’s most popular comic strips, read by millions daily in the newspapers all over the world. The strip was essentially Rip Van Winkle in the future in which a modern-day man wakes up 500 years in the future to a world that is no longer recognizable to him. In this future world, so many of the staples of today’s science fiction films made first appearances: ray guns, rocket ships, jet packs, laser beams. The strip’s vision of the future influenced the World’s Fair and Tomorrowland in Disneyland. It became so popular that in 1939 it led to a wildly successful 12 part serial starring Buster Crabbe. Between the strips, serial and later comic books Buck Rogers became as known to every American as Tarzan and Mickey Mouse.
Mary Parent and Cale Boyter are overseeing for Legendary. Cory Kaplan of Angry Films will co-produce.
Legendary is planning something along the lines of what was originally planned for Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower,” with a prestige television series that leads to a blockbuster film franchise along with an anime-style animated series, all designed to reintroduce the Buck Rogers Universe to modern audiences.
Murphy just wrapped “Rise of Beasts,” the seventh installment of the live-action “Transformer” movies for Paramount. Murphy and Montford are currently filming the ten episode “Vampire Academy” series for Peacock.
Helgeland is best known for writing the screenplays for the films “L.A. Confidential” and “Mystic River, and wrote and directed “Legend,” about the rise and fall of the infamous London gangsters the Kray twins. Helgeland’s work on “L.A. Confidential” earned him the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Helgeland is represented by CAA and Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein.