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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

question of the day: WTF? An Asteroids movie?

Lots of you have emailed me about this one, and yes, I’m as dumbfounded as you are. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Universal has won a four-studio bidding war to pick up the film rights to the classic Atari video game “Asteroids.” Matthew Lopez will write the script for the feature adaptation, which will be produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

In “Asteroids,” initially released as an arcade game in 1979, a player controlled a triangular space ship in an asteroid field. The object was to shoot and destroy the hulking masses of rock and the occasional flying saucer while avoiding smashing into both.

As opposed to today’s games, there is no story line or fancy world-building mythology, so the studio would be creating a plot from scratch. Universal, however, is used to that development process, as it’s in the middle of doing just that for several of the Hasbro board game properties it is translating to the big screen, such as “Battleship” and “Candyland.”

The number of questions this prompts is as countless as, well, the number of asteroids in just our asteroid belt alone. With an idea that is such a blank slate, why the hell are four studios fighting over it? Isn’t whatever marketing value that may come attached to the names Atari and Asteroids more than overshadowed by the ridicule factor?

I mean: WTF? An Asteroids movie?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)

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  • Brian

    Ever since I learned that Ridley Scott was attached to direct a movie based on the board game Monopoly, I’ve realized that the movie business has officially crossed over into Bizarro World, and nothing surprises me.

    It could be possible to take this property and craft a tense, moody thriller about the desperate plight of a lone astronaut stranded in a dangerously dense asteroid field, with ammo and supplies running out . . . But who am I kidding? It will probably turn out to be less entertaining than playing the actual Atari game.

  • marshall

    Wow, they are really running out of idea’s huh?

  • JoshB

    Huh. If four studios really wanted to make this movie couldn’t they have just made four movies about space rocks and given them different titles?

  • PaulW

    MaryAnn. You’re in New York. Find us a good lawyer willing to work pro bono. We need to sue Hollywood for the emotional damage being collectively done on the psyches of Gen Xers everywhere. STOP RAPING OUR CHILDHOOD, HOLLYWOOD! (weeps)

  • FrankS

    This and the planned View-Master movie (http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=27333) really show how pathetic Hollywood has become.

  • MBI

    Didn’t they make a cartoon show out of a Rubik’s cube? After that, all bets were off, I think.

    Tetris: The Movie.
    Pong: The Movie.
    Tic-Tac-Toe: The Movie.
    Ball of Lint on My Carpet: The Movie.
    Projected release dates: Summer 2012.

    Movies are stupid.

  • Ryan

    I’ll reserve my judgment until I see the movie. Though of ALL of the games out there, Asteroid? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

    But then I think about Clue and smile. I loved that movie when I was a child. Of course there are rumors that they are making a new Clue movie and I am so so so afraid.

  • Universal’s also got the rights to Stretch Armstrong and CandyLand. (no kidding) I’m so glad I’m not a screenwriter – I’d be setting stuff on fire right about now.

  • Victor Plenty

    They’ll claim to write the plot from scratch, but we all know the story line the Universal execs will be stealing from for this production.

  • Bluejay

    You never know. I initially thought a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie was an idiotic idea — “based on a ride at Disney World, and a pretty sorry one, at that,” according to MaryAnn — but, like her, I was won over by the result.

  • Shadowen

    They want it because it is a blank slate, MaryAnn.

    Think about it. It has the absolute tiniest amount of real plot possible–you’re in a ship, you’re blowing up asteroids–but nothing else. No famous lines of dialogue. No story twists. No characters. Yet it’s still an old and recognized name in the world of video games. It is, in short, a franchiser’s dream.

    The only thing that makes me giggle is how a movie based on Asteroids would be even less scientifically accurate than most such movies, as if you took every asteroid in the Solar System’s belt and mushed it together it would be maybe a bit bigger than the moon, IIRC. The real danger would be from the fact that the sparse dust would be moving at rather impressive speeds.

    Plus, of course, space is three-dimensional, so if you really had to get through an asteroid field without risking damage you could just fly over it, as most orbits, including those of the asteroid belt (in our solar system, anyway), are at a uniform plane to the sun.

  • Victor Plenty

    The ridicule factor is a big part of this property’s value, I’ve realized after giving it some more thought. Is there any other reason all of us are talking about it? If it weren’t so ridiculous, the project would never this kind of free publicity this early in its pre-production phase.

  • Yes, but why produce this when they could be greenlighting Bronx Cheer?

    Er, I’m not sure I want to even think about the answer to that question…

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