Director Tarsem Singh has had a good track record in recent years with Mirror Mirror and Immortals, both of which received average reviews but performed relatively well at the box office. The director has a distinct visual style that can be traced back to his original feature film debut, a cerebral sci-fi called The Cell, in which Jennifer Lopez played a child psychologist agent who uses technology to enter a shared dream state with a serial killer.
Singh seems to be comfortable directing sci-fi and fantasy movies where he can let his imagination run wild and into the weirdest places, and is already attached to another sci-fi feature called Selfless, about an elderly man (Ryan Reynolds) whose mind is transplanted into a younger body. Selfless will be out in fall 2014, but the director is already making plans for his next movie after that.
The Wrap reports that Tarsem Singh is now set to direct The Panopticon, a sci-fi action thriller from production company Good Universe and producer Andrew Lazar (Jonah Hex). The script was written by Craig Rosenberg (The Uninvited) and tells the story of an ordinary man who one day receives a mysterious package containing a pre-recorded message from himself and a warning that the world will end if he doesn't act quickly to prevent it.
It's difficult to be sure from this brief synopsis how Singh's movie might derive from the idea of a Panopticon. The name refers to an architectural structure for prisons and other disciplinary institutions that was designed by philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The Panopticon would, theoretically, have a central observations tower where the jailor would reside, and the cells would be arranged in a peripheric ring. This way it would be possible to observe each of the inmates from the central tower without them being able to know for sure whether they were being watched or not.
The Panopticon is perhaps better known as one of the subjects of Michel Foucault's 1975 book "Discipline and Punish," in which he used the proposed architecture of the prison as a model for describing methods of observation within both modern disciplinary institutions and society at large. According to Foucault's theory, an awareness of being permanently observed "automatizes and disindividualizes power," so that subjects within a metaphorical Panopticon police their own behaviour. This is the reason why, for example, 'CCTV in operation' signs are an effective crime deterrent.
If Singh does move straight on to The Panopticon after completing Selfless, it will likely hit theaters in 2015/2016. First, however, it has to traverse the rocky path from development to production and avoid the pitfalls into development hell along the way.
Will you be keeping your eye on The Panopticon, or would you rather look elsewhere for your sci-fi fix? Tell us what you think of this pitch in the comments.
The Panopticon doesn't have a release date, but we'll keep you updated on any further developments.