Friday, 7 January 2022

New BATTLESTAR GALACTICA movie and TV projects will be set in a "shared universe"

Two new Battlestar Galactica reboots are currently in the works at NBC/Peacock and Universal. The first is a new television series, to be co-written and produced by Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) and showrun by Michael Lesslie (the Assassin's Creed movie). The second is a feature film, to be written by Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Dark Phoenix).

It was already a confused situation, with Esmail stating that the new TV show will share continuity with the Ronald D. Moore iteration of the series, with Moore reading the pilot script and giving his blessing to the project. However, Lesslie disagreed, describing the show as a total reboot of the premise. Lesslie subsequently departed the project and no replacement has been named.

At first the movie was also described a total reboot of the premise, but in a fresh interview with Collider, Kinberg has now claimed that the film will occupy a "shared universe" with Esmail's iteration, and is "working closely" with him on the project. Whether that means both movie and TV show will be set in the RDM version of the story and will be heavily related (sharing actors and characters), or one will be a prequel to the other, or the two are in a shared universe but aren't related to the RDM spin of the idea, is completely unclear.

It is also entirely possible that "shared universe" and "continuity" have simply now become Hollywood buzzwords which people say even though they're not technically correct.

Battlestar Galactica's premise is compelling but limited: a race of robots known as the Cylons destroy the Twelve Colonies, twelve planets inhabited by humans in an unclear time period. The surviving humans band together under the last surviving major warship, the battlestar (combined carrier/battleship) Galactica, in a ragtag, fugitive fleet and run across the galaxy in search of the fabled and legendary "Thirteenth Colony," Earth. In 1978 Glen A. Larson wrote and produced a first version of the franchise which was very popular, but cripplingly expensive and cancelled after one season (as was a terrible, low-budget spinoff, Galactica 1980, which saw the fleet arriving at contemporary Earth). In 2003, Ronald D. Moore created a total reboot of the premise which ran for four seasons on SyFy, winning multiple Hugo and Peabody Awards and becoming one of the most critically feted shows on television. The show was well-received for most of its run, but ended on a highly controversial, divisive note. This iteration of the franchise spun off a prequel series, Caprica, which was cancelled after one season, and a further pilot for another series, Blood & Chrome, which did not proceed to series. There have also been successful video and board games based on this version of the series.

The decision to reboot BSG again, whether in a new continuity or not, has also received a mixed reaction. The Ronald D. Moore version of the story, despite its flaws, is widely regarded as definitive. Given the tonal disparity between the two early versions of the premise (a cheesy space opera and a more psychologically convincing, post-9/11 mediation on the ethics of war and terrorism), it's unclear what a third version of the story can do that has already not been done.

The creative talent involved has also been criticised; Esmail is a superb writer and director, but he has made it clear he will be relatively hands-off on the series and is more setting it up before heading off to other projects (dismaying those who only though the project promising because of his involvement). Lesslie's only credit of note was a failed video game adaptation, and Kinberg has arguably only worked on two decent projects (X-Men: Days of Future Past, although that was a collaboration with the much better Jane Goldman, and as a writer on Star Wars: Rebels), with almost all of his other work being disastrously awful, most recently the terrible Apple+ series Invasion and a series of dud comic book movies for Fox, including X-Men: ApocalypseFantastic Four and Dark Phoenix (a second missed bite of that cherry, since he also made a hash of the same idea in X-Men: The Last Stand).

According to Kinberg, they still haven't found a director for the Battlestar Galactica movie, so don't hold your breath on that one. The TV show has several scripts completed and is apparently ready to move forward, but pre-production has not formally begun yet and a series order has not been given, suggesting further development is required. They also need to find a new showrunner to replace Lesslie, assuming Esmail is still not keen on taking up that role himself.

1 comment:

Jens said...

"it's unclear what a third version of the story can do that has already not been done" --- Agreed.
I don't want to be that guy who sees everything from a negative angle but I'm getting tired of all those remakes / reboots / reimaginings.
There are successful examples but I'd rather see original stories than yet another variation of the same story, especially if previous variations were well-done.