Barry Sonnenfeld (Men In Black) is attempting to bring one of Hollywood’s longest-stalled projects to the big screen: an adaptation of the juvenile sci-fi book series Tom Swift. The Tom Swift novels have been ongoing for nearly a century(!) – the first volume was published in 1910 and the latest one as recently as 2007.
On the Hollywood side, a Tom Swift movie has been in development almost as long as the books have been around.
The Tom Swift books followed the exploits of a young inventor named Tom Swift, a gifted genius with little formal education who is “Swift by name and swift by nature.” The character was based on real historical innovators (back when we still had them) like Henry Ford or Thomas Edison, and funny enough (according to Wikipedia), many of the inventions that appeared in Tom Swift novels mirrored or even pre-dated real-world inventions (the taser, cameraphones or the electric locomotive, for example)!
So how could one author (unless he was Rasputin) have foretold so much technological innovation? One author couldn’t: the Tom Swift character was originally created by book-packing mogul Edward Stratemeyer, but the Tom Swift novels have been published by many authors over the years, all working under the collective pseudonym of “Victor Appleton”.
In order to get Swift the movie off the ground, Barry Sonnenfeld is once again teaming with BenDavid Grabinski, writer of the much-buzzed sci-fi/action/comedy script The How-To Guide for Saving the World, which Sonnenfeld was supposed to direct before the project ultimately fell apart last year [MY ERROR: the project is still “currently in development” and has NOT fallen apart.]
How Sonnenfeld and Grabinski specifically plan to get a long-stalled, century-old sci-fi story made into a successful movie is anybody’s guess. At this point we’ll just have to wait and see if they can pull it off.
I was only half-aware of Tom Swift before mention of this film, so it’s kinda of crazy to learn about the character’s extensive history and almost precognitive notions about modern technology. From what I’ve heard, the character is kind of a sci-fi Indiana Jones, so, with the proper film treatment, a Swift movie could turn out to be a pleasant surprise. Then again, maybe not.
Were you a Tom Swift fan before the announcement of this film? Do you think Barry Sonnenfeld and BenDavid Grabinski are right for the project? Or should they be focusing on getting The How-To Guide for Saving the World on the big screen?
No word yet on when Swift might make it into theaters. We’ll keep you posted.