Some movie projects orbit the edges of entertainment news in a seemingly endless cycle of vague updates, pre-production rumors, and innumerable creative hand-offs. These ephemeral properties don't seem to inhabit Development Hell as much as they do Development Purgatory.
A prime example of these whispered-of but little-seen ghost-projects is the classic video game adaptation Asteroids. Announced three years ago, Asteroids immediately gained a reputation as another instance of Hollywood scraping the bottom of the creative barrel. After years of vague plot reports and script changes, it appears that the production has taken on yet another writer: scripter Jez Butterworth.
According to a short article published by Variety, the Asteroids film adaptation has signed Jez Butterworth to revise and restructure the film's existing screenplay. The movie's script was previously tackled by Matt Lopez (Race to Witch Mountain) and Evan Spiliotopoulos (Wanted 2). Asteroids has always been the pet project of producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, one of the major producers behind the Transformers series.
The acquisition of Butterworth to rework the Asteroids script may be a coup for the production. Butterworth has more experience in scripting than either of his predecessors, having written screenplays for The Last Legion and Fair Game. He also has experience as a director and actor. Whether he channeled this experience into a workable Asteroids script is, as ever, up in the air.
An undeniable limbo project, Asteroids has spent years as an "upcoming release" with no clear timetable for production. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura gave a brief description of an early plotline, saying that it involves, “...two estranged brothers that must team up to save Earth from an alien race.” Despite insisting that a "strong, deep mythology" has been built for the film, one can only imagine that the number of changes in writers and scripts reflects the difficulty of "adapting" a video game that literally dates from the first days of the medium. The Asteroids production seems to share more than a few traits with Battleship – which is to say that a completely plotless IP is going to be used to sell a generic special effects extravaganza.
That said, the upgrade to a more experienced writer may allow Asteroids to rise above its rather hollow beginnings. Also, the lack of solid source material can be as much of a boon as it is a hindrance. If the film actually does follow up on the promise of a rich mythos, it could transcend its arcade cabinet origins and become a fun new science fiction property. One can only hope that the movie will be more than two-and-a-half hours of exploding space rocks.
Asteroids has no projected release date.