Tarsem Singh to Direct Sci-fi Thriller ‘The Panopticon’

Published 2 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 5:57 am,

Tarsem Singh on the set of Immortals Tarsem Singh to Direct Sci fi Thriller The Panopticon

Director Tarsem Singh has had a good track record in recent years with Mirror Mirror and Immortals, both of which received average reviews but performed relatively well at the box office. The director has a distinct visual style that can be traced back to his original feature film debut, a cerebral sci-fi called The Cell, in which Jennifer Lopez played a child psychologist agent who uses technology to enter a shared dream state with a serial killer.

Singh seems to be comfortable directing sci-fi and fantasy movies where he can let his imagination run wild and into the weirdest places, and is already attached to another sci-fi feature called Selfless, about an elderly man (Ryan Reynolds) whose mind is transplanted into a younger body. Selfless will be out in fall 2014, but the director is already making plans for his next movie after that.

The Wrap reports that Tarsem Singh is now set to direct The Panopticon, a sci-fi action thriller from production company Good Universe and producer Andrew Lazar (Jonah Hex). The script was written by Craig Rosenberg (The Uninvited) and tells the story of an ordinary man who one day receives a mysterious package containing a pre-recorded message from himself and a warning that the world will end if he doesn’t act quickly to prevent it.

It’s difficult to be sure from this brief synopsis how Singh’s movie might derive from the idea of a Panopticon. The name refers to an architectural structure for prisons and other disciplinary institutions that was designed by philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The Panopticon would, theoretically, have a central observations tower where the jailor would reside, and the cells would be arranged in a peripheric ring. This way it would be possible to observe each of the inmates from the central tower without them being able to know for sure whether they were being watched or not.

The Panopticon Tarsem Singh to Direct Sci fi Thriller The Panopticon

The Panopticon is perhaps better known as one of the subjects of Michel Foucault’s 1975 book “Discipline and Punish,” in which he used the proposed architecture of the prison as a model for describing methods of observation within both modern disciplinary institutions and society at large. According to Foucault’s theory, an awareness of being permanently observed “automatizes and disindividualizes power,” so that subjects within a metaphorical Panopticon police their own behaviour. This is the reason why, for example, ‘CCTV in operation’ signs are an effective crime deterrent.

If Singh does move straight on to The Panopticon after completing Selfless, it will likely hit theaters in 2015/2016. First, however, it has to traverse the rocky path from development to production and avoid the pitfalls into development hell along the way.

Will you be keeping your eye on The Panopticon, or would you rather look elsewhere for your sci-fi fix? Tell us what you think of this pitch in the comments.


The Panopticon doesn’t have a release date, but we’ll keep you updated on any further developments.

Source: TheWrap

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  1. You have my attention…

  2. Got mine too.

    I’m thinking he’ll do this task thinking that he’s being watched at all times by whatever the threat to the world is, making it one of those tense thrillers in a sci-fi setting.

  3. I’m all about the end of the world

  4. I’d rather look elsewhere for sci-fi fix. Tarsem Singh will probably be more about this tread: Style over Substance.

    • But The Cell and Immortals were good movies that didn’t fall into the “style over substance” category.

      • I honestly didn’t expect anyone commenting on this site would praise The Cell and Immortals. Especially you.

        • The Cell was pretty awesome but suffered from the same thing many movies suffer from: competition in the art department.

          Allow me to digress. In order to release the movie faster (translation: recoup your investment right away) the visual effects work will be farmed out around the globe, and even then subcontracted further still down the trough. The result is an incoherent mess (like most movies are these days): different visions competing over the soul of the movie. Reference any Harry Potter movie past the 3rd one for more information.

          So… quick and easy = messy and incoherent. Not that most ticket buyers seem to mind.

          This is why I will give James Cameron a pass for taking almost a decade to make his latest film. He’s in charge from start to finish, and he may not always be right but at least his vision is consistent from start to finish.

        • @Marl

          Honestly, I liked The Cell originally, caught it again a few months ago and still like it. It’s one of those movies that somehow flew under the radar for many and those who did see it seem to hate it for some reason but I really enjoyed it.

          Same for Immortals. Heard bad things about it, avoided it, got bored one day and it was on TV so I tuned in and actually liked it despite its flaws. I’ve seen it two more times since and while it’s not a favourite movie of mine, I won’t skip it if it’s on and there’s nothing else to watch or do.

          It was definitely better than Wrath Of The Titans (I literally fell asleep during that movie, one minute they’re preparing for battle, the next Kronos is being defeated, not sure how much I missed but don’t wish to rewatch to find out).

          I liked Clash Of The Titans too (original and remake).

      • I don’t care! I rather look elsewhere for sci-fi and that’s it.

    • Yeah, I’m guessing that ALL of your favorites are COMPLETELY original and haven’t borrowed from ANYTHING…

      • +1

        Cave-ish Man gets it.

      • Nope. I read the sarcasm, but that’s an untrue assumption. There’s a difference between taking inspiration and blatant thievery.

        I don’t know if you watched the first video I linked, but you’d have to be in denial to say that the arrow scene, which was featured prominently in all the Immortals trailers, was just a shameless shot-for-shot rip-off of Zhang Yimou’s work. Yeah, it was only a few seconds of Immortals, but it was enough to make me think, “Seriously? Why would you do that?”

        I’m harsh on Singh because I feel Zhang is a true visionary and House of Flying Daggers, at least visually, is among his most stunning work. He was a DOP before he started directing movies and his experience really comes through in his films. Plot-wise I found it a bit thin, but if you haven’t seen House of Flying Daggers yet, I highly recommend you check it out. You could make a sweet poster out of any still in that film.

  5. check out the fall. ill watch any of this guys movies

    • The Fall is an absolutely brilliant film, with powerful performances. An apt demonstration that Tarsem is far more than “style over substance”.

  6. I like the concept. The Immortals was far better than the critics made out and compared to Clash and Wrath of the Titans out around the same time was a far more considered modern re-tooling of the greek mythology… I like the Philip K Dick type vibes I’m getting from the synopsis which is never a bad thing to have.

    • +1

  7. Maybe off topic, but I’m assuming it’s now official that the word “borrowed” is used in place of “ripped off,” “stolen,” or “plaigarized?” Interesting.

    I wonder if any of the people on this board would mine me coming over to their house, and “borrowing” all their valuables? I said “borrowed,” so that makes it OK, right?

    What a joke. Like, the guy “borrowing” these ideas other people had, has any intention of spontaneously giving them back at some point, hence the term “borrowed.” This entire language is becoming utterly PC trash.

    • It’s not like “stolen” is any more applicable. It’s not like the original film is now minus those scenes: oh my god! there’s a scene missing from House of Flying Daggers! what happened? ah! it was stolen. it’s now in Immortals.

      I think you don’t understand the concept of plagiarism if you want to apply it to the brief scene in immortals, that was more than likely done as an homage to HoFD.

      You realize that the film everyone is screaming about how original it is (Inception) has not a single “original” scene in it? But no, you liked THAT movie, so no one can accuse it of stealing.

  8. I will watch anything Tarsem Singh makes, because he is my favorite director, so I will not go elsewhere. I cannot wait! They need to stop pushing back these release dates!