‘Doctor Who’ Movie Being Planned By ‘Harry Potter’ Director

Published 3 years ago by , Updated August 2nd, 2013 at 9:53 am,

[Update: Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has stated that David Yates will not be making a movie reboot.]

Despite what some die-hard fans might say, David Yates did a pretty bang-up job translating the last three Harry Potter books (Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows) into four well-regarded, box-office-crushing films. Given that grand accomplishment, one might think that Yates would have an appetite for smaller, more obscure or independent fare, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, as Variety reports that the filmmaker has his mind set on brining a franchise that’s as equally beloved as Harry Potter to the big screen: the long-running sci-fi TV series, Doctor Who.

Yates is reportedly working with BBC to develop this proposed Doctor Who movie; BBC has of course been airing the Doctor Who TV series since 1963, making it the longest-running sci-fi TV series of all time, spanning what will soon be half a century (the 50th anniversary of the show will be celebrated next year). Doctor Who originally ran from 1963 -1989, before being rebooted in 2005 with a new series that has just finished its sixth season.  Joining Yates on this Doctor Who movie venture is Jane Tranter, BBC Worldwide’s executive VP of programming and production.

The show chronicles the adventures of “The Doctor,” one of the last members of an alien race known as “The Time Lords.” The Doctor travels time and space in a living machine called the TARDIS (which looks like a phone booth), saving civilizations and generally righting wrongs throughout the universe. In order to extend their life spans, Time Lords use a process called “regeneration” in which The Doctor switches bodies every so often (and the show subsequently switches lead actors), resulting in a slightly altered, yet still familiar, version of the character.

Check out what Yates had to say about the plans for the Doctor Who movie:

“We’re looking at writers now. We’re going to spend two to three years to get it right. It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.”

Upon reading that quote, die-hard Who fans (also known as “Whovians”) will likely be upset by the notion that their beloved Doctor needs a ‘radical transformation’ for movie purposes. However, Yates is correct in the sense that the Doctor Who TV show has long been lauded for its massive universe and creative sci-fi tropes, but has admittedly been on the low-budget end of things when it comes to production values (especially the first series). When one takes the basic premise of the show into account, it’s clear that a sci-fi movie based on the character would have to be bigger and more flashy than what the TV show has offered. To that point, Yates is letting it be known that the movie will be its own thing, and won’t simply be a continuation or expansion of the currently-running show:

“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…We want a British sensibility, but having said that, Steve Kloves [an American screenwriter, from Texas of all places,] wrote the Potter films and captured that British sensibility perfectly, so we are looking at American writers too.”

Again: though a vocal minority would debate this claim, Yates did an admirable job taking the Harry Potter universe from page to screen, and his statement that they will invest ‘two to three years’ hammering out this Doctor Who movie should only further evidence how seriously he is approaching the material. Still, the question must be asked: Are you Whovians out there excited or trepidacious about this idea?

We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the status of the Doctor Who movie as it develops.

Source: Variety

TAGS: Doctor who
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  1. Not canon? Not happy.

  2. NO NO NO! My Doctor needs to stay a TV series that has made me happy since I was a little kid. The thought of it being ruined makes me sick. Does anyone remember the last time we Americans tried to make a Dr. Who movie I think it was early 1990′s and it SUCKED!!!!

  3. My vote goes to Andrew Garfield or James McAvoy for The Doctor, but if they’re using a previous one than Tennat for the win!

  4. What is it with american tv and movie companies wanting to bastardize the classic UK tv shows? So far every single one has failed miserably (with the exception of The Office). You destroyed Torchwood for all the loyal followers, that will never be the same. You completely misunderstood the british humour when re-making Coupling, Vicar of Dibley and One Foot in the Grave. Now it’s the Timelords turn to be turned into some Anglo-American (more American i’d say) puppet to set out on some ridiculous adventure with no doubt the ultimate aim of saving America and making it look superior to the rest of the world. The suggestion of a new cast and writers makes me think this is your first step to try to Americanize the Doctor and like all the other horrible failures mentioned above this will crash and burn. Before I get slated i’m not anti-american, I just don’t like people messing with the classics!

    • I’m sorry, but what is it about a British director work with the *BBC* that makes this an American tv and/or movie company trying to ruin a British franchise?

      • That was going to be my exact question. His logic is oddly illogical isn’t it?

        • I would also add to that a question: Why would an American adaptation of a British series contain British humor? What would be the point of that? Few of us over here find any of that funny. You can argue whether most of the series that have undergone such an adaptation are any good, but the fact remains that it would be completely pointless to do them exactly the same as their British counterparts. Those shows already exist and Americans (or Canadians in my case) rarely watch them.

          Also, and not to derail the conversation, but while we’re on the topic, the American version of The Office is a likeable show I admit and funnier than the British version, but it’s still a bit overrated in my opinion. I’d rather watch The Big Bang Theory or even How I Met Your Mother.

          • Agreed with HIMYM, but for my money BBT only has one redeeming character (we all know who) and every other character is a big load of ‘Meh’, even the female lead is uninteresting.

            Also there is a rather large Doctor Who fan base over here, part of the reason season 6 was simulcast on BBC America. I for one am a huge fan of Doctor Who, British humor and all, that’s what makes it, and the background storyline that makes pretty much anything possible from a plot and story standpoint.

            That is why SG-1 was able to run for so long, they literally had infinite possibilities for stories once they step through the gate.

          • I understand that you may not get British humour, but the American office better than the British one??? That is just silly talk.

    • Even though I am an American, I have to say I completely agree with you 100%.
      I prefer UK television over almost anything we shell out, granted we had some good movies. But I feel like we should just leave it alone and keep our Doctor the non-American as can be.

      We don’t need to make a movie for something that isn’t ours to begin with. I tire of us ruining great UK shows. Apparently, America media has run out of ideas and must latch onto great UK shows…

  5. WOW where to start, idea of the time war as a movie yaeh would be good but…from what the doctors have said about it it sounded really bad not just abit of a skirmish it sent the doc running and the master and the rest of the time lords mad plus never ended (bit hard to film a never ending war LoL) the story i think they will be telling next year and for the 50th anniversary will be the doctor having to say his name or tell his name to someone (which won’t make the who fans happy) but his name will only be known at the fall of the 11th (I’m assuming its him as the 11th doctor) then it will lead into Matt Smith regenerating into a new doctor with a name for the movie. Benedict Cumberbatch FTW here, i know he plays Sherlock Holmes on British TV but oh well,

  6. I’ve never understood the fascination of Doctor Who. I’ve watched several episodes and it just falls really flat. Horrible acting, ridiculous writing, and elementary effects. Idk. Not my cup of tea I guess.

    • I agree. I think there may be some potential for a film version, but only if they change enough things. Sorry “Whovians” (horrible nickname by the way) but your show just doesn’t appeal to me. In fact its very existence, when shows like Firefly are killed off before anyone even realizes they exist, utterly baffles me.

      • I totally see where you two are coming from. The first DW episode I watched was the premiere of series 5, and I loved it, and watched a few more episodes after that. But then I was advised to watch series 1-4 so that I could understand where the doctor is coming from, so I did. And it was hard for me, at first. I disliked the first few episodes of series 1 so much, I stopped watching for a while. But then I went back and watched several more, and it grew on me. The first two series are inconsistent in terms of quality; sometimes it’s amazing, sometimes it’s terrible. And although it’s frustrating sometimes, the series is worth it, and gets much more consistent once series 3 starts.

        I’m still on series 4 so I can’t say how good that series is overall, but, the series DEFINITELY gets better. Especially after Rose leaves. And from what I’ve heard, series 5 and 6 are amazing and a big step up from the first four.

      • Blame Fox for canceling Amazing shows, its not BBC’s fault they don’t axe every good show they have and actually allow the fans to continue enjoying them.

    • It’s a bit more of a kids show now. Kids seem to love it and sometimes there are some genuinely brilliant episodes. As for the effects? Sometimes they are great and sometimes they don’t quite reach the mark. But I think they do exceptionally well considering the budget and that every episode is usually dealing with completely different settings, characters and concepts.

      Sometimes I wish they would stick to the more quirky British style of things. Sometimes it looks like they are trying to ape other sci-fi films, or look like a glossy American show.

  7. David Tennant FTW

    • Indeed…
      He was IMO the absolute BEST person who ever played the role of the doctor.

  8. I feel like all the negative things I have to say about this idea would be redundant, so I’ll focus on the positive ones instead.

    At worst, we get a horrible movie that we can laugh at, and people outside of those who watch the show still think it’s stupid like they did before. At best, we get an amazing movie and a lot more people who start watching the show. And really anywhere on that spectrum, DW will just get more attention in general, and people will be curious to see where the movie came from. So as far as I see it, while I don’t like the idea and it will probably flop, I can’t see it being such a bad thing. As long as it doesn’t interfere with the show in any way. That’s a big no no.

  9. James Mcavoy and Rhys Ifans would make smashing Dr.’s …

  10. Years ago after seeing The Shining I was so impressed that I had to read the book to see how it compared. What I discovered was that the movie basically had the same premis and characters, but was its own story very seperate from the original…Both very good in my opinion, but both a different take. For fans this could be the same if done right. We could walk away thinking that this is a Dr. Who in a different universe then go back to enjoying the Dr, Who we’re used to without feeling something was completely wrong. Personally as a fan…I see no down side to having an open mind about it until it comes out.

    • Well put sir.

  11. Lets just call it the Doctor Whovie

  12. I have been watching the currant series since 2005, love Eccleston, mad about Tennant, luke warm ’bout Smith (bad scripts last year, worst Christmas Special ever)-if things don’t go better he’ll be another Colin Baker.
    Grew up with the 2nd best ever Dr., Tom Baker (Los Angeles late 1970′s)

    I thoroughly enjoyed the 8th Dr.s only outing, it had the 2nd best Master (after John Simm just above Johnathan Price-took the piss out of Roger Delgado’s and Anthony Ainley’s campness, “624 years in a sodding sewer”)

    Now I believe Yates should go with an actor he has worked with previously-Daniel Radcliffe who is David Tennant’s doppleganger and coincidentally I think Tom Felton is a perfect substitiue for Simm

    • You want Daniel Radcliffe…to play the Doctor??

      • I usually try to be understanding of people and their actor choices, but Daniel Radcliffe as the Doctor is just…not good.

        • I humbly disagree.
          Having seen Radcliffe in The Woman in Black and Equuis think he has what it takes to fill Ten’s Chucks and his disposition in interviews is as manic as Tennant-maybe they both have A.D.D.?

  13. Need to make the movie with whoever the current Doctor is and it should stay in tune with the existing storyline. My only exception would be if Tennant could return. He was the best Doctor….

    I am curious that the Office and other shows are mentioned when the WORST adaptation of a BBC show was trying to re-make Life on Mars. LOM was one of the most brilliant bits of acting and writing ever to make it to a screen of any size. Whatever U.S. network tried to bastardize it would have been better off purchasing the original 2 season run and showing it.

  14. Did they establish the first doctor was the doctor’s first form? Because it could be a concept that we just assume he’s the “first” doctor because he’s the first doctor we met, if it hasn’t already been established the movie producers can get around this be stating he regenerated three times before he’s first form.

    The show takes place at the end of the first doctor’s life, the movie could play on the idea of showing a younger version of the first doctor showing how he came to steal the tardis and eventually grew bitter of humanity.

    • Yes, William Hartnell is pretty categorically the first incarnation of the current set of 12 regenerations. Whether he lived a set before that is possible. In “The Five Doctors”, the 1rst Doctor asks the 5th Doctor “Which regeneration are you?” 5 answers “Fourth” to which 1 replies “Ah! So there are five of me now”. Matt Smith tells Craig Owen that he is the 11th incarnation. In “The Brain of Morbius”, the 4rth Doctor has a mind battle with a Time Lord called Morbius (whose brain is inhabiting a Monster’s body) and his past incarnations show up on a monitor screen – then OTHER faces never seen before begin to flash. The producer says he thought it might imply that there were previous incarnations we had yet to see, but since this is not explained on screen, they could just as well be previous incarnations of Morbius. But apparently a Time Lord can get regenerations through dispensation of the Time Lords in sets of 12. Course – there are no Time Lords anymore currently…

      The first Doctor never seemed bitter of humanity, just cranky in general and short tempered around anyone dumber than him. which is most people most of the time. In fact, Earth was one of his favourite places – the French Revolution his favourite part of Earth history. It seems, however, that whatever events surrounded his leaving of Gallifrey included some kind of memory loss, which would explain why he couldn’t quite fly the TARDIS correctly – and also that it took some time for Ian and Barbara to restore his faith in humanity. (He was going to crush a caveman’s skull with a rock!!!)

      I like to imagine that the Doctor was a figure in politics, but also a scientist and informational gatherer/observer. He grew really bored, while his friend from the Academy – the Master – plotted to take over Gallifrey and started a revoltuion that killed the Doctor’s children, causing him to make true on his dreams of leaving and stealing the TARDIS he had rescued from the “scrap-heaps”. Taking his grand-daughter with him, they accidentally broke the cardinal rule of going back in time in Gallifrey’s own history and meeting Rassilon and Omega and being there when they created Time Travel Capsules, which Susan then names TARDIS. Finally figuring out a way to get back to their own space-time, something about that process causes a memory loss. This chain of events would tie in just about everything ever mentioned and hinted at in the show’s history as being part of the Doctor’s origins.

  15. YAYY! Didn’t see a thread on Screen Rant’s front page, so I thought I would add to this old one – Steven Moffat has said that any movie coming out would not be a Hollywood reboot, would be under the control of the BBC, and would fit into the continuity of the show including whichever Doctor was playing the role on tv when it gets made. Huzzah! A collectively huge sigh of Geek relief may now be had.

  16. DW should definitely be made into a big-screen production so we can debate whether said film is canon for the next thousand years. Paul McGann -> Christpher Eccleston was always missing. McGann FTW.

  17. I have no opinion on a movie but the matt smith episodes are some of the worst on record. Moffat is trying so hard to appeal to american audiences by filming in the states and making every episode an exercise in extremes (“but these go to eleven!”) that he’s ruined the substance, sophistication and nuance that russell davies had created. “Blink” was moffat’s last great contribution but then he ruined it with that god-awful “sequel” of the weeping angels just so he could shoe-horn in that horrible riversong story arc. It’s as painful as watching the 2nd & 3rd installments of the matrix trilogy; instead of worrying about trying to ride on coattails or attempting to dazzle with pyrotechnics and cheap gimmicks, how about going back to the basics of writing a good, heartfelt story? Oh, how i wish davies would come back to rescue the show.

    • I totally agree. Although Girl in the Fireplace was a pretty good Moffat episode too, I think his contributions as writer are much better than being the head honcho in charge. River Song was a great character to begin with, full of mystery and intrigue and then Moffat ruined her by using her too much and making her a glorified Doctor groupie.

      I have become so disenchanted with his tenure that I only watched the first two and last two episodes of the last season just gone (the one with Clara) and even then I wasn’t impressed. It’s a shame as I loved Eccleston and Tenant as the Doctor. Both were fun, had moments of darkness and the storylines were always varied (not having the majority taking place on earth is always a good start from a show that has a tie travelling spaceship at it’s disposal).

      The 50th anniversary special looks good. I just hope the rumours are true and that Moffat will be stepping down once Capaldi starts his tenure in the tardis.

  18. Can you bring back Matt Smith to be the doctor in the movie.

  19. i, to be honest, would love a film. based on the writings of all of them, tv, books and audio. but am unsure on what story i like the most. even a reboot of sorts. am open to suggestions.

  20. It looks like this will never happen.

    Instead, why doesn’t someone organize a Kickstarter project for a fan made film? It worked for Star Trek.



  21. If he could do a series of films set during the Time War starring Paul McGann and John Hurt, and maybe even future the other Classic Doctors in whatever way, then that would be SPECTACTULAR! :D