Walt Disney Pictures emerged as the winner last summer in a brief but heated competition between studios to acquire the screen rights to Oblivion, a futuristic sci-fi graphic novel that was co-created by Joseph Kosinski – several months before he made his feature-length directorial debut with TRON: Legacy.
Now Disney has dropped the rights to Oblivion, which is being fashioned as a big-budget and stylish post-apocalyptic action flick that is expected to be acquired by another studio sooner, rather than later.
In a future where the Earth’s surface has been irradiated beyond recognition, the remnants of humanity live above the clouds, safe from the brutal alien Scavengers that stalk the ruins. But when surface drone repairman Jak discovers a mysterious woman in a crash-landed pod, it sets off an unstoppable chain of events that will force him to question everything he knows.
Oscar-winner William Monahan (The Departed) penned an earlier draft of the script for Oblivion, which remains set as a directorial vehicle for Kosinski. Karl Gajdusek (Dead Like Me) is responsible for the screenplay in its current form.
According to Deadline, Disney ultimately decided to pass on producing Oblivion as the studio “decided that a gritty PG-13 science fiction action project didn’t fit into the Disney mandate.” Based off the subject matter and imagery released from the graphic novel so far (see below), it looks to be more of a (so to speak) hard PG-13-Rated flick than even Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series – so the studio’s decision isn’t all that shocking.
TRON: Legacy demonstrated Kosinski’s technical precision as a filmmaker, and it also dealt with some very ambitious and intellectual sci-fi concepts – albeit, in an often muddled fashion. It sounds as though Oblivion aims to address a number of thought-provoking themes as well, while also serving as an exciting and stylized vision of a devastated future Earth.
The involvement of writers like Monahan and (to a lesser degree) Gajdusek bodes well for the Oblivion adaptation, which could be less convoluted than Legacy. Films that involve an alien invasion of Earth in some form always look enticing to studios; the fact that Kosinski has already proven himself capable at delivering a popular $100 million + budgeted project should only further help to convince a company like Fox or Universal to acquire the screen rights.
We’ll keep you posted on the status of Oblivion, which arrives in graphic novel form this summer on July 12th.