Universal held the rights to Richard Matheson’s celebrated 1956 sci-fi novel The Shrinking Man for a couple decades, but was never able to get a remake or new adaptation off the ground (probably for the best, seeing how one planned version was a family-friendly comedy starring Eddie Murphy).
MGM secured the rights last summer and is pressing forward with a contemporized movie version of the story, with Matheson (who is still an active novelist, despite turning 87 next week) and his writer son Richard Matheson Jr. collaborating on the screenplay.
The formerly-bankrupt studio’s been recharged thanks to the combined $2 billion worldwide intake from Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Hence, it’s now moving with ambitious remakes of cherished book-to-film adaptations from the 1950s – which includes Shrinking Man and Ben-Hur - as well as teaming with Paramount to release the big-budget Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson next year.
Shrinking Man will benefit from a modern budget and improvement in effects over the six decades that’ve passed since Matheson’s source material was adapted as The Incredible Shrinking Man; not to mention, offer a greater sense of realism than the countless variations on the miniaturizing humans setup (ex. Fantastic Voyage, Innerspace, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids). For better or worse, this remake seems an obvious candidate for shooting in 3D, using the increased sense of depth and scale to benefit the sequences where the titular protagonist is pint-sized (think of the 3D effect in animated movies with small characters, like Toy Story 3 or the upcoming Epic).
Here’s what THR is reporting, with respect to how the Mathesons are updating Shrinking Man:
The book, written when atomic-bomb fear ran high, centers on a man who is exposed to radiation and insecticide and begins to shrink. The Mathesons will modernize the story to reflect advancements such as nanotechnology.
Describing the new iteration as “an existential action movie,” the elder Matheson says, “My original story was a metaphor for how man’s place in the world was diminishing. That still holds today, where all these advancements that are going to save us will be our undoing.”
Matheson Sr. is well-acquainted with Hollywood adapting his literature, resulting in films that vary in quality (and box office success) like Stir of Echoes, What Dreams May Come, Real Steel and multiple I Am Legend-inspired adaptations – among many other films and television series, that is.
He has solid screenwriting experience to recommend him for updating his Shrinking Man story to the big screen, including his work on the original Twilight Zone TV series, Night Stalker – which Edgar Wright is remaking with Johnny Depp – and even an episode on the original Star Trek television show. (He also had a hand in writing Jaws 3-D, but nobody’s perfect.) We’ll have to wait and see if Matheson still has the magic touch that made him a sci-fi/fantasy icon in the first place.
More on The Shrinking Man as the story develops.