A pair of acclaimed filmmakers, Cary Fukunaga and David Lowery, have announced plans to write and possibly direct a television adaptation of the 1985 Joe Dante film, The Explorers. The announcement itself is certainly an unexpected one for a variety of different reasons. The film in question, a sci-fi family adventure that’s over 30 years old at this point, is both an unlikely choice and an ideal prospect for an updated adaptation. But it’s the creators involved that will likely catch the eye of most people (especially those for whom an “old” movie is something that came out in 2005), as both Fukunaga and Lowery have been responsible for some memorable films and television series in recent years.
The Explorers sounds as though it could be up both directors’ alley, but in fascinatingly different ways. The film, which starred a young Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix, is an earnest young adult adventure that follows a trio of friends who build a working spaceship out of spare parts and a seemingly random assortment of junk, only to wind up traveling the cosmos and meeting some alien friends. The film was sort of a less sentimental E.T., where the humans were the ones making contact with extraterrestrials. It was also the fourth movie in a string of memorable films from Dante, who, in addition to The Explorers, handed in The Howling, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Gremlins and Innerspace between 1981 and 1987.
As reported by Deadline, Fukunaga and Lowery will write the pilot script together for Paramount Television, with the plan being for one of them to direct the pilot on the condition that the project moves forward to that stage. That makes for an interesting prospect, as both directors have a distinct style, which would certainly have a huge impact on the look and tone of the series should it move forward.
Lowery might be the more obvious choice to direct, as he has already delivered a well-received remake aimed at younger audiences, with the 2016 film Pete’s Dragon. He’s also recently signed on to deliver another version of the medieval tale Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for A24 that will just be titled The Green Knight.
That being said, both directors have a rather full slate at the moment. While Lowery is in development on The Green Knight, Fukunaga is still (miraculously) signed on to direct the upcoming 25th Bond movie. At any rate, it will be interesting to see whether or not The Explorers moves forward, which one of the two filmmakers winds up directing the pilot, and just what they plan to do with the story to make it appealing to modern television audiences.
Screen Rant will have more details on The Explorers television series as they are made available.