Lionsgate has made a bundle on genre entertainment targeted at the young adult crowd – with such properties as The Hunger Games and Divergent – so it makes sense for the studio to be behind the Power Rangers film reboot in development. There’s a rumor floating about that screenwriter Max Landis (Chronicle) has been recruited to work on the new Power Rangers project, though Landis has already (sorta) denied any involvement with the movie. Whether there’s more to the story than that, is the question at this point.
Power Rangers co-creator Haim Saban has been very smart – and very shrewd – when it has come to growing the Rangers crop over the last two decades – as discussed on this past week’s Screen Rant Undergroud Podcast episode, following the official announcement of a Power Rangers movie reboot being developed by Saban and Lionsgate. As such, it would make sense for Saban and Co. to seek out the services of a writer such as Landis; a hot up and comer, who’s already got one re-imagined take on an iconic property – Frankenstein – arriving in 2015.
Hence, the claims by Schmoes Know‘s sources – assuring that Landis has only just turned in a Power Rangers script draft to Saban, as well as producers Jim Miller and Alison Shearmur – actually seem fairly reasonable. The official description for the reboot mentions “a group of high school kids who are infused with cool and new super powers,” which is up the alley of the writer behind the sci-fi found footage/teenage parable Chronicle. Much like that film’s director, Josh Trank, is now working on a Fantastic Four reboot which features younger versions of the eponymous superhero team, it wouldn’t take a stretch to imagine Lionsgate turning to Landis to re-imagine Power Rangers for the YA (and under) crowd in the early 21st century.
However, there’s a problem – namely, that Landis says that the rumor isn’t true. Or, to be more exact, he claims to not be “directly involved” with the Power Rangers reboot right now, though he’s avoided ruling out the possibility that he has been connected to the project in the past – or could be in the future. Case in point:
As I've said before, as of right now, I am not directly involved in Power Rangers. Whether I have been or will be again, no comment.— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) May 15, 2014
In fairness, Landis voiced his interest in rebooting Power Rangers as far back as a year ago, so it was probably inevitable that rumors about his involvement would spring up, now that the project is officially real. Still, although Schmoes Know doesn’t have a track record of being 100% accurate with its reporting, there’s often been a reasonable amount of truth to the site’s scoops. Case in point: their initial report that Tim Burton has begun talks to direct Beetlejuice 2 last year was confirmed by additional outlets shortly thereafter, while their recent claim that Jessica Chastain has been offered a Mission: Impossible 5 role has since been echoed by Deadline.
Recently, Schmoes Know reported that Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2) is set to write and direct a Masters of the Universe live-action movie reboot; following their exclusive, however, other sites revealed that Wadlow is writing the project, but has not yet been formally set to direct. As such, when you stack their claims against Landis’ response, one reasonable possibility seems to be that Landis has only made a pitch for Power Rangers right now, and is waiting to learn if the producers like it enough to hire him to write the script. Another potential scenario is that Landis made a pitch that has already been passed over.
One more bit of food for thought – on Twitter yesterday, Landis also went on something of a soapbox rant about how to properly reboot a property. A rant that was not identified as having anything to do with Power Rangers, mind you (wink wink, nudge nudge):
Reboots should focus on the fun ideas at the center of the original property. “Dark and gritty” isn’t for everything. Something that was fun and colorful should remain fun and colorful. Just up the intelligence and the character. That was what the first JJ Trek did so well, or Winter soldier, or even the new Godzilla… As a writer, the last thing I’d want would be to force a tone that doesn’t belong onto a story. Tone is story. That said, if the property wasn’t open to evolve, I’d want no part and get out ASAP…
Landis, as far as his public behavior online is concerned, isn’t afraid of letting his emotions bubble near his surface, as evidenced by his impassioned video rant about Superman and Man of Steel last year. Which is to say that, all things considered, it might be best to consider Landis innocent until proven guilty, as far as his involvement with the Power Rangers reboot is concerned. At the same time, though, many longtime fans of the Power Rangers would probably agree with his reboot comments – and might even support him landing the screenwriting job, if that’s the approach he has in mind (read: not a “dark and gritty” re-imagining, per se).
We’ll keep you updated on development for the Power Rangers reboot.