Back in 1986, The Fly landed David Cronenberg the biggest commercial success of his career, grossing $60 million against its $9 million budget. A remake of Kurt Neumann’s 1958 take, the body-horror classic starred Jeff Goldblum as a brilliant but eccentric scientist who mutates into a fly-human hybrid after an experiment gone wrong.
The film garnered widespread acclaim amongst critics and general audiences alike, notching particularly praise for both Goldblum’s performance and its special effects. It later won an Oscar for Best Makeup — making it the only one of Cronenberg’s movies to nab an Oscar — and it’s largely regarded as his best work. In 2009, rumors began to circulate that Cronenberg planned to direct a second remake. Years later, he clarified that he had written a script that was a The Fly sequel or sidebar of sorts, but budget constraints later caused the project to stall.
Now, Deadline reports that a remake — not a sequel — is underway at Fox, and Cronenberg does not appear to be attached. Instead, J.D. Dillard, whose directorial debut Sleight created a stir at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, is in negotiations to direct and co-write. He would pen the script with writing partner Alex Theurer.
Though reboots have certainly proved rich material for Hollywood as of late, the results have largely been hit or miss, and The Fly seems like kind of a gamble. It’s beloved by film buffs, but isn’t as well-known amongst younger audiences. Plus, its 1989 sequel, The Fly II, drew in mostly negative reviews, and it fared only decently at the box office, which doesn’t bode well for filmmakers hoping to capture its initial magnetism.
That being said, The Fly’s appeal was far deeper than its gruesome special affects and a spine-chilling plot. Fans praised its script as imaginative, funny, and delightfully unsettling, so there’s plenty to build off of. For their part, Dillard and Theurer have been pegged as a promising team, and their past work is very much in line with The Fly. Sleight was a cross between sci-fi and thriller, following a street magician who gets caught up in the drug trade and must use his magic to save his sister when she’s kidnapped after he gets in too deep. They’re also currently producing Sweetheart, a survival-horror pic, with Dope‘s Kiersey Clemons set to star.
Considering how far special effects have come since 1986, it will be interesting to see how Dillard and Theurer adapt The Fly in a modern context. Who knows, another remake could be a hit. It worked for Cronenberg the first time around.
We’ll keep you updated on The Fly as more information becomes available.