Two years before “Independence Day” blasted the doors off the box office, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin were already exploring alien life with “Stargate.”
“At the time that we made it, every single studio in Hollywood had told me that science fiction was dead,” Devlin recalls. “And Roland and I really love science fiction, so I think that’s partly why it worked and resonated. It wasn’t a cynical attempt to try and make something that was crowd-pleasing.”
Despite “Resurgence” being Emmerich’s first official sequel, “Stargate” was initially conceived as part of a trilogy, Devlin says, “and because of what happened with the rights and changes at the studio and all kinds of strange things, we never got to do parts two and three.”
Now the duo are in active development on a reboot movie being produced by MGM and Warner Bros.. The film is being penned by “Resurgence” writers James A. Woods and Nicolas Wright, and is intended to kickstart the franchise that Emmerich and Devlin always hoped to create.
“It’s not a story that can take place 20 years later. So the only way to really tell that trilogy is to go back from the beginning and start the story all over again,” Devlin says.
Following the original film, MGM retained the rights to the property, and the TV shows were produced without Emmerich and Devlin’s involvement. Now that the pair are back on board, the franchise will sidestep the continuity of the series, but not because of sour grapes, Devlin insists.
“It was taken away from us, and it’s tough to have your children raised by other parents, even if they do a very good job. … For us, it’s not putting down what has been done. It’s to let us finish telling our story.”
Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM’s Motion Picture Group, recalls that when he ascended to the position in 2011, the property “had been dormant and, for lack of a better term, it had played itself out at that moment.”
In the company’s discussions about revitalizing “Stargate,” Glickman says, it was decided that “the only way to really give a boost of adrenaline and give the franchise the rebirth that it deserves was to bring back Roland and Dean.”
As for how their plans have changed over the past 22 years, Devlin says the only difference is the scope. “Today, studios tend to not think of movies as trilogies or sequels (but) as cinematic universes,” he points out. “So as we’ve been developing it, we found all these avenues that allow it to expand. The foundation is exactly the same as what we wanted to do, but now the possibilities are much wider.”
Emmerich’s Plate is Heaped High
Roland Emmerich’s slate ranges from a war drama to sci-fi thrillers. He’s always in demand, so his slate is often in flux, but here’s what’s on the docket at press time:
- “Stargate” – Emmerich is teaming with long-time writing partner Dean Devlin for a reboot of his career-making 1994 hit, “Stargate.” Nicolas Wright and James A. Woods are on the project as writers. Says Emmerich, “It took very long for ‘Independence Day,’ so it will probably also take equally long.”
- “Battle of Midway” -“I was just drawn to this battle because America was just a total underdog and I’m just in awe of the bravery of these young pilots,” Emmerich says. “And yes, they won the battle, but what was the price?”
- “Confluence” – A futuristic thriller about the blurring line between human and machine; Emmerich is producing, with John Robinson Irwin directing.
- “Maya Lord” – A feature film based on John Coe Robbins’ novel telling the fact-based story of Gonzalo Guerrero, a Spaniard whose shipwreck in 1511 led to adventures with the Mayan people in colonial Mexico.
- “Emergence” -An alien-invasion film containing hot-button science elements, produced by Emmerich’s Centropolis Entertainment. Emmerich will helm and produce.
- “Rise” – Centropolis is keeping details of this thriller set on an Arctic dive ship under wraps. Wright and Woods are scripting. Emmerich is producing.