Harry Potter Helmer Developing Doctor Who Movie David Yates to direct feature film for BBC.
Posted 14 November 2011 - 07:17 PM
Filmmaker David Yates is leaving the Boy Who Lived behind for the Time Lord.
Variety reports that the Harry Potter director is developing a feature film version of the famous sci-fi TV series with the BBC's Jane Tranter in the hopes of turning Doctor Who into a big screen franchise.
"We're looking at writers now. We're going to spend two to three years to get it right," Yates told Variety. "It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena."
"The notion of the time-travelling Time Lord is such a strong one, because you can express story and drama in any dimension or time," said Yates. "Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat have done their own transformations, which were fantastic, but we have to put that aside and start from scratch."
That's right. Yates' Doctor Who movie will not adhere to its small screen counterpart's continuity and will be, according to the trade, "completely fresh approach to the material."
Yates told Variety that he's looking at writers now for a new Doctor Who and it's going to take two or three years "to get it right. … It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena [of the big screen]."
Yates' approach would be an entirely new one and apparently have no relation to the continuity of the ongoing and ever-popular TV series. This move, not surprisingly, is already stirring up discontent among fans. I asked my friend Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg what he thinks of Yates' announcement. Arnold is a Doctor Who expert and publisher of the forthcoming book Red White and Who: The Story of Doctor Who in America.
"While a fan's tendency is to resist this kind of development, there are two things to keep in mind," he told me. "One, this is a natural outgrowth of a property moving from a niche to a worldwide brand, which just goes to show: Be careful what you wish for. Two, it's clear this will take some time, and who knows what might happen in the next few years? This aging fan says simply: Reserve your panic and watch this space."
Ha! Well, this certainly feels like a big "f#@k you" to the fans. You have a show that ran for some 26 seasons, was canceled, and then was revived 16 years later to great acclaim, arguably bringing the character to a larger international audience than ever before. New episodes continue to be produced in addition to all kinds of ancillary materials and merchandising. And yet, Hollywood wants to reboot it, possibly alienating the very built-in fanbase that has made it so successful -- presumably to bring in an even larger, mainstream crowd that is vaguely aware of the name "Doctor Who" on their periphery and just hungry to consume whatever the Next Big Franchise is that is slapped on their multiplex screen. Probably in 3D, too.
But if you take a step back as a fan -- and I am a Who fan -- you can start to see things from Yates' perspective. In fact, he's developing the reboot with the BBC, so we can't really blame Hollywood in this case yet (they'll, of course, have to get involved eventually). Compared to most big American shows, not that many people watch Doctor Who. The TV series has very British, very TV-based actors. The stories are typically arc-heavy, and the show has almost 50 years of continuity weighing it down. Why not start fresh for a fresh audience? (And lest we forget, this isn't the first time The Doctor has gone out of continuity for the big screen. Peter Cushing played a variation on the title character in two movies in the mid-'60s.)
Posted 14 November 2011 - 09:31 PM
Wow; this is the very definition of mixed emotions.
I'm of two minds of this; on the one hand, ignoring the continuity feels like a colossal mistake (one of the reasons NuWho is so successful IMO is because it embraces it cheesy, shoestring past... much as Star Trek: TNG did). Especially since the show is such a success now; moreso than it ever was in it's original series (which was more or less thought of as a semi-kiddy show in it's day; now it's BBC prime time programming).
But on the other hand I think of the BSG and Star Trek 2009 reboots (although ST09 is technically a reboot within continuity; merely an alternate timeline). They were very successful as well. And while I shudder to think of Bryan Singer's much huffed-and-puffed-but-never-coming-to-fruition remake, I think that with the right care Doctor Who might actually be a good candidate for an 'alternate version.' Especially since I'm not overly enamored of the "Fairy Tale Children's Bedtime Story" version of DW that is the Matt Smith/Stephen Moffatt series...
And the idea has a precedent, too; the two Dalek movies that were produced in 1965 and 1966 ("Dr Who and the Daleks" and "Invasion Earth: 2150" respectively). They existed right alongside the TV Dr Who but were also instrumental in helping to make the series the cult phenomenon it was at the time (they were almost like big screen, Technicolor adverts for the show). In fact, my very first exposure to Dr Who came from those movies (and then I watched the Tom Baker episodes on public television and fell in love with the show). My only nit with the movies is that they weren't original stories (adaptations of "The Daleks" and "The Dalek Invasion of Earth"; the latter was IMO better than it's TV counterpart), and that the Doctor himself was rewritten as a bumbling, old earthling scientist (instead of a mysterious alien time lord) who is literally named "Doctor Who" (but nicely played by Peter Cushing; a far cry from William Hartnell).
Peter Cushing and a VERY young Bernard Cribbens in the DW feature film, "Doctor Who: Invasion Earth 2150" (1966).
My own first exposure to the world of Doctor Who; saw it on TV when I was about 8 or 9 years old...
Unlike Singer's proposed BSG remake (which is supposedly to be more in line with TOS BSG; big mistake!), I think a parallel movie Doctor Who could work again, just as it did in the '60s; as long as it doesn't take away from the TV audience. As a matter of fact, here in the States, it could be a good promotional thing to get people to NOTICE the show (outside of geek/fan/convention circles); those of you on this site in the UK would be shocked and appalled how many times I've heard people here say, "So, what's this 'Doctor Who' thing all about?"
The Time Lord council might be burning the midnight oil deciding whether a new Who movie is a good idea or not...
One of my only caveats for this movie? Please, oh gods, please DON'T have f**king Johnny Depp play the Doctor, OK???
Posted 15 November 2011 - 07:22 AM
Posted 15 November 2011 - 08:28 AM
Hopefully, director Yates will keep that in mind; as he did with Harry Potter. Doctor Who was briefly "Americanized" back in 1996 and the show survived (or rather, North Americanized, as it was shot largely in Canada). And I know that am one of the few supporters of the '96 movie, but it really had some good ideas. It had many problems to be sure, but also gave us Paul McGann in a nice performance as the Doctor, and one of the most handsome Tardis interiors ever, IMO. Not to mention the spunky cardiologist Grace Hallowell who would've made a great companion for a new series (sort of a forerunner to Martha Jones, IMO). So, even out of a relatively bad idea came some good things.
The good news to all of this is that it's standalone continuity (of the newest movie) will not impact the series if it fails. Although to be honest, I kind of hope the next series of DW cleans house a bit and gets back to what made me fall in love with the show in the first place; I'm just a tad sick of the Harry Potter/fairy tale bulls**t (of course, the new movie is being directed by a former Harry Potter director so that doesn't exactly inspire me too much...).
But, in the spirit of the Peter Cushing movies which first inspired me to give TV Dr Who a look? I'll try to keep an open mind (for once)...