J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of cult 1990s SF show Babylon 5, has announced that he is planning a big-screen reboot of the franchise.
Babylon 5 ran for five years in 1993-98 and was critically acclaimed for its long-running story arc, a single storyline executed across five seasons and 110 episodes (as well as a number of TV movies of varying degrees of competence), as well as its pioneering use of CGI for effects. Warner Brothers produced the show and retain the movie rights, but the movie rights remained with Straczynski.
Straczynski set up a new production company in 2012, Studio JMS, and has been raising $200 million for a slate of different projects. The company's first venture is a new TV series produced by the Wachowskis and co-written by Straczynski, Sense8, which will debut in 2015 on Netflix. Straczynski has said he will offer Warner Brothers first refusal on the Babylon 5 movie, with a budget of over $100 million. If they decline, he will fund the film himself through Studio JMS with a more modest budget of around $80 million.
Given that Babylon 5 helped pioneer the long-form, serialised drama, the style of television which is now the gold standard, it seems an odd choice to try to shoehorn its long, epic story into a couple of movies, especially when the TV series was more about the characters than the effects (impressive as they were in their day). I suspect this may be more a reflection of the rights situation - where JMS has full control of the film rights but none at all over the TV ones - than what might be the preferred route JMS would want to take. Even so, it's going to be a daunting project. The new actors have some pretty massive shoes to fill, most notably whoever tries to replace the formidable rapport between Peter Jurasik's Londo Mollari and the late Andreas Katsulas's G'Kar.
According to JMS, he wants the new film to enter production in 2016. It will be interesting to see if this happens or not, but he seems to have - for the first time since the TV show ended - a firm plan in place.