[Update: Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has stated that David Yates will not be making a movie reboot.]
Despite what some die-hard fans might say, David Yates did a pretty bang-up job translating the last three Harry Potter books (Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows) into four well-regarded, box-office-crushing films. Given that grand accomplishment, one might think that Yates would have an appetite for smaller, more obscure or independent fare, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, as Variety reports that the filmmaker has his mind set on brining a franchise that’s as equally beloved as Harry Potter to the big screen: the long-running sci-fi TV series, Doctor Who.
Yates is reportedly working with BBC to develop this proposed Doctor Who movie; BBC has of course been airing the Doctor Who TV series since 1963, making it the longest-running sci-fi TV series of all time, spanning what will soon be half a century (the 50th anniversary of the show will be celebrated next year). Doctor Who originally ran from 1963 -1989, before being rebooted in 2005 with a new series that has just finished its sixth season. Joining Yates on this Doctor Who movie venture is Jane Tranter, BBC Worldwide’s executive VP of programming and production.
The show chronicles the adventures of “The Doctor,” one of the last members of an alien race known as “The Time Lords.” The Doctor travels time and space in a living machine called the TARDIS (which looks like a phone booth), saving civilizations and generally righting wrongs throughout the universe. In order to extend their life spans, Time Lords use a process called “regeneration” in which The Doctor switches bodies every so often (and the show subsequently switches lead actors), resulting in a slightly altered, yet still familiar, version of the character.
Check out what Yates had to say about the plans for the Doctor Who movie:
“We’re looking at writers now. We’re going to spend two to three years to get it right. It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.”
Upon reading that quote, die-hard Who fans (also known as “Whovians”) will likely be upset by the notion that their beloved Doctor needs a ‘radical transformation’ for movie purposes. However, Yates is correct in the sense that the Doctor Who TV show has long been lauded for its massive universe and creative sci-fi tropes, but has admittedly been on the low-budget end of things when it comes to production values (especially the first series). When one takes the basic premise of the show into account, it’s clear that a sci-fi movie based on the character would have to be bigger and more flashy than what the TV show has offered. To that point, Yates is letting it be known that the movie will be its own thing, and won’t simply be a continuation or expansion of the currently-running show:
“Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat have done their own transformations, which were fantastic, but we have to put that aside and start from scratch…We want a British sensibility, but having said that, Steve Kloves [an American screenwriter, from Texas of all places,] wrote the Potter films and captured that British sensibility perfectly, so we are looking at American writers too.”
Again: though a vocal minority would debate this claim, Yates did an admirable job taking the Harry Potter universe from page to screen, and his statement that they will invest ‘two to three years’ hammering out this Doctor Who movie should only further evidence how seriously he is approaching the material. Still, the question must be asked: Are you Whovians out there excited or trepidacious about this idea?
We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the status of the Doctor Who movie as it develops.
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