One-man band filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s last couple directorial efforts (Machete Kills, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) didn’t exactly get their fanbases excited, as was reflected at the box office; nor, for that matter, did his proceeding two family-friendly offerings (Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, Shorts) seem to please the majority of critics or general audiences alike. Point being, Rodriguez could definitely use a hit to help with restoring some of his waning film greek cred.
Reports are now in that Rodriguez’ next project will (surprisingly) be a live-action film take on the property Jonny Quest. The Jonny Quest series, for those unfamiliar, began with the original Hanna-Barbera cartoon TV show that debuted in the mid-1960s. Quest, unlike other Hanna-Barbera animated series, was more ground in realism (its fantastical sci-fi elements aside), and was an action-adventure program revolving around Johnny Quest – a precocious eleven-year old boy, who went on extraordinary missions around the world with his brilliant scientist father.
Deadline is reporting that Warner Bros. has setup Rodriguez to direct the live-action Jonny Quest film, based a script that he will co-write alongside Terry Rossio (co-writer on the first four Pirates of the Caribbean movies). The pair will be drawing from the early draft – one that made the Hollywood Black List of Best Unproduced Screenplays – that was put together by Dan Mazeau (Wrath of the Titans).
The original Jonny Quest TV show gave rise to another cartoon series in the 1980s (titled The New Adventures of Johnny Quest), followed by another iteration titled The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest in the 1990s. Hollywood then spent a chunk of the 2000s attempting to get a Jonny Quest live-action film adaptation off the ground; directors such as Richard Donner (The Goonies) and Peter Segal (Get Smart) were approached to oversee such a project. At one point even, Zac Efron was lined up to play Jonny Quest – with Dwayne Johnson eyed to portray Bannon, Jonny’s bodyguard and mentor (who accompanies Jonny on his adventures).
Rodriguez was once renowned for his innovative voice and style as a filmmaker, on such influential genre movies as From Dusk Till Dawn and the Desperado trilogy – but, as mentioned before, of late his reputation has lost a bit of its luster. It could be that he is someone who will benefit from playing in a sandbox built by someone else for a change; one that will require him to be a bit more disciplined with his artistic direction, no less. A project like Jonny Quest might be a good choice for Rodrgieuz based on that logic – and likewise, is a film that would benefit from his creative oversight.
Jonny Quest is but the latest 20th century serial adventure property that now has a modern live-action adaptation/reboot in active development. Other examples include Flash Gordon – which Kingman: The Secret Service director Matthew Vaughn is reportedly lining up to revive on the big screen – and the Valerian sci-fi/fantasy adventure series, which has a Luc Besson-helmed live-action feature adaptation scheduled to arrive in Summer 2017.
Vaughn and Besson, like Rodriguez, are filmmakers capable of great things – but whether or not these projects are the best uses of their talents, that’s open for debate. Still, in Rodriguez’ case, something like Jonny Quest sounds better than Spy Kids 5 (and, arguably, Machete Kills in Space) at this point in his career, no?
We’ll bring you more information on Jonny Quest when we have it.