In this day and age of reboots and franchise revivals, studios are always on the hunt to bring back a popular property and capitalize on the nostalgia while introducing it to a new generation of potential fans. Some of these initiatives (like Terminator: Genisys) haven’t gone over well, but the practice has by and large been successful. Last year, films such as Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke box office records, and this fall’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is dominating social media. Familiarity can lead to profits, and anything that’s recognizable is a candidate for the next relaunch.
A couple of years ago, it was rumored that Knight Rider could soon join those ranks, with a feature film reboot starring Chris Pratt and Danny McBride. Little word has been heard concerning the project since, and now it’s been revealed that the approach has changed entirely. Instead of a movie, Knight Rider is coming back in the form of a digital series on Machinima from Fast & Furious and Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin.
Machinima announced the development in a press release, saying that they have partnered with Lin, YOMYOMF, and NBC Universal Brand Development on the project. Lin will serve as producer on the series, which is tentatively scheduled to premiere in 2017. Machinima CEO Chad Gutstein discussed his enthusiasm about Knight Rider:
“Knight Rider is an iconic franchise whose concepts of AI and autonomous vehicles were science fiction in the 1980s and are now science fact. Justin is one of the leading storytellers of his generation and we couldn’t be more excited to work with him on re-invigorating Knight Rider for a new generation of fans.”
The Knight Rider revival is the latest instance of Machinima creating a live-action digital show based on a popular, pre-existing brand. Other examples include Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, and Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. Their series have collectively accumulated more than 300 million views, so it’s safe to say that the new Knight Rider should reach a wide audience. Some of Machinima’s programming are among the most watched online series ever. They definitely have a following, and this should fit in nicely to their established brand.
Though Lin is only a producer (and not director), his involvement is reason to be encouraged as well. Given his history with the Fast & Furious series, he has a penchant for delivering high quality car-based entertainment and should have a hand in designing the set pieces with KITT. The biggest question now is who will play Michael Knight. It will be tough to escape the shadow of the legend David Hasselhoff, but with no shortage of charismatic leading men to choose from, Machinima should be able to find a great actor for the part.