The long-gestating remake of the cult 1980s kid movie Flight of the Navigator is showing new signs of life. An update of the film has been attempted twice before, but has never made it past the early planning stages. Now the showrunner of Lucifer has been hired to reboot the story for modern audiences.
For those not familiar with the original film, it was released in 1986 and featured young actor Joey Cramer as David Freeman, a 12 year-old boy that disappears for 8 years, before returning to his parents having apparently not aged a day. From a family mystery movie it transforms into pure sci-fi adventure, as David is reunited with an alien spacecraft that previously abducted him (although the intentions were benign). He frees the UFO from government imprisonment and bonds with the A.I. that controls the ship, as they try to escape the authorities. The film also features Sarah Jessica Parker (Hocus Pocus) and Veronica Cartwright (Alien) in significant roles, as well as some typically wacky voice acting from Paul Reubens (aka. Pee Wee Herman) as the alien A.I. named Max. It was directed by Randal Kleiser, who also made Grease 8 years earlier.
Several attempts have been previously made to get a Flight of the Navigator remake into theaters. An intended Disney remake was first announced in 2009, before another remake was planned (one that Colin Trevorrow would have directed) three years later. Both of these projects failed to engage, but now THR is reporting that Joe Henderson has been hired to write a reboot the property, with a view to film a new version of the story under the Lionsgate studio. Henderson is best known as the writer and EP for Lucifer, and also worked on the Hulu adaptation of Stephen King's 11-22-63. The Henson Company is also onboard to produce the movie.
Flight of the Navigator is now viewed as one of the most notable and craziest kid's movies from the '80s. The story actually gets quite dark at times, when it deals with the 8 year separation between David and his family, and when he is pursued relentlessly by the government. However, it's probably best remembered for Reuben's comic vocal performance and some early CGI effects that were pretty impressive at the time of its release. The cute puppetry work for the pocket-sized aliens also struck a chord with audiences at the time.
It will be interesting - assuming that the film actually makes it out of early development - to see what updates and changes Henderson would make to the story in a remake/reboot. The involvement of the Henson Co. suggests that puppetry might still be on the table for some effects, but as regards the rest of the plot and characters, anything is possible. Beyond the appointment of Henderson, no further details about the remake are known at this stage.
We'll bring you more news about this new version of Flight of the Navigator as we get it.