Movies get announced almost daily. From that moment, they spend time in various phases from conception to release - if they make it to the theater, on home release, or a streaming service at all. Some films don’t get past the idea stage or the verbal pitch to someone of influence in the movie industry. Thus, a project is either considered in development or a rumor.
Science fiction films often last longer in development than other genres of film - with the exception of fantasy - mainly because of the time it takes to complete visual effects. The typical blockbuster science fiction film tends to go all out on the special effects, and some require unique technology to do so!
Still, the script and story must be approved by others - the studio, producer, sometimes the cast - so if one or two people aren’t happy with it, rewrites add to development time. As you can see, almost anything could prolong production.
Movies start as a spark in someone’s mind. A producer mentions he was asked to provide an outline for a potential movie in a franchise, or a director was suddenly hired to list actors/actresses who would be amazing in certain roles. Interviews are great at dispensing movie rumors because sometimes the interviewer or interviewee didn’t even know what was said until some eagle-eyed reader catches those few words about how a movie that was on nobody’s radar is a possibility.
Here are 10 Science Fiction Projects Currently In Development (And 10 Rumored).
20 In Development: Mortal Engines
Set in a steampunk world after a “60-minute War” has ravaged Earth, Mortal Engines is the latest movie from Peter Jackson. Mortal Engines takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where cities are now mobile, moving around the land on wheels with motors to propel them. In order to sustain themselves, the cities engulf smaller towns. The movie is based on the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve.
The story centers on Tom, who accidentally stops an assassin - Hester - from completed her vengeful mission of ending Thaddeus Valentine. Hester believes her mother was taken out by Valentine. Mortal Engines is directed by Christian Rivers. This movie is his theatrical debut, though he has worked with Jackson before on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films.
Mortal Engines is set to release on December 14, 2018.
19 Rumored: Tron 3
It took nearly 30 years before a sequel to 1982’s Tron (Legacy) made it to the big screen. The sequel received lukewarm reviews and maintains an average/mediocre score on review aggregate websites. Most fans and reviewers agree that the visual effects were spectacular, but the story proved lackluster, even hard to understand.
Various reports after Legacy have stated a script for a third movie was being written.
Harry Knowles went so far as to say a teaser trailer for a sequel would appear on the DVD extras for Legacy. In April 2011, Joseph Kosinski said “We’re working on the story right now.” Then later, in 2013, “The Tron sequel is still in early stages.”
Four years later, Kosinski said Tron 3 “had not been scrapped,” and Jared Leto was being considered as a new character.
18 In Development: Avatar 2
Avatar released in 2009 to great reception. Visually, the movie was stunning, proving that James Cameron knew how to tell a story with amazing visual effects. Avatar 2 was originally announced in 2010 (along with a second sequel) because of the runaway success of the first one, with a release planned for 2014. Cameron decided to add two more sequels (making the total 4) and required brand new techniques to motion capture actors underwater, which had never been done before.
Both Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 are filming concurrently, and the additional two sequels will most likely begin shooting when the first two sequels are done. Most of the original actors and actresses are returning for Avatar 2.
Avatar 2 is scheduled for release on December 18, 2020 and the rest of the sequels between 2021 and 2025.
17 Rumored: Halo Movie
Back in 2010, Microsoft’s Frank O’Connor said, “There will be a Halo movie.” Despite several efforts to bring the mega-franchise to the big screen, nothing has succeeded.
Halo 6 rumors have continuously made the rounds, saying Ridley Scott was attached.
Microsoft has debunked some rumors, but there are so many people and things involved that it would probably be easier than studios think to make.
WETA workshop made a number of props for the short films in the Halo: Landfall series. Stuart Beattie (writer of the G.I. Joe movie) has been rumored and involved in several video game script, including Spy Hunter and Gears of War.
Guillermo del Toro even made a Master Chief helmet for a Halo movie. If anyone can’t get a Halo movie going, it’s del Toro.
16 In Development: Starship Troopers Reboot
Announced in November 2016, the Starship Trooper reboot was green-lit by Columbia Pictures. The Baywatch movie reboot writers will be tackling the screenplay. The studio stated they aren’t remaking the film exactly but using the source material for a brand-new take. No one from the original 1997 movie is involved.
Producer Neil H. Moritz has been fiddling with Starship Troopers as a remake for over 6 years. However, it’s interesting to know that Starship Troopers is not listed in Moritz’s list of upcoming projects; although over 15 titles are, including Fast & Furious 9 & 10.
15 Rumored: Ghostbusters
The Ghostbusters franchise got a makeover when Sony cast women as the counterparts to Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddemore. It does makes sense the studio would like to expand the movie franchise, but what exactly Sony plans to do remains a rumor.
In March 2015, reports surfaced that a new Ghostbusters movie was being planned.
Joe and Anthony Russo were speculated as directors of this Ghostbusters movie, with Chris Pratt and Channing Tatum as two of the stars of the film.
Drew Pearce, the writer of Iron Man 3, stated that the studio, the Russos, and Ivan Reitman are attached to the project. Pearce has even completed a “story bible” for the new movie. This could mean anything from a first draft treatment to a full-fledged outline with story arcs.
14 In Development: The Darkest Minds
The Darkest Minds is based on the novel of the same name by Alexandra Bracken. A pandemic wipes out almost all the United States’s children. Those left are embedded with powers. The strongest character, Ruby, gets away from the camp, along with other teens. The group manages to start a rebellion and seek vengeance on the government that used them.
20th Century Fox purchased the rights to the movie in 2014. Much of the casting and crew hires didn’t occur until 2016, including that Jennifer Yuh Nelson would direct the film. The Darkest Minds is her first live-action film.
There are 5 books in Bracken’s series, with the fifth book releasing July 31, 2018. There is plenty of material to draw from to easily expand into 3 or 4 movies. The Darkest Minds releases August 3, 2018.
13 Rumored: Jabba the Hut
Star Wars fans have been extremely critical as of late. It almost seems if a Star Wars movie doesn’t have a number after the title, then it’s not worthy of the Star Wars name. One positive reaction to a potential standalone movie was for an Obi-Wan Kenobi film.
When Jabba the Hut was rumored to receive a movie, fans were upset.
Variety reported that Jabba the Hut was in development (along with a Boba Fett movie), but nothing has been confirmed by Disney.
Jabba is an interesting character, an intergalactic gangster that has no ties to the Jedi or the Dark Side. Many of the characters he surrounds himself with have intriguing storylines to fill out a Jabba the Hut movie. Fans shouldn’t discount a character that has been prominently featured in books.
12 In Development: The Predator (Predator 4)
The Predator is affectionately called Predator 4 by fans since it is the fourth movie in the franchise. Shane Black, Hawkins from the original Predator, directed the movie. At first, the report in 2014 stated Black was going to reboot the series, but Black made sure a day later to clarify the new Predator would be a sequel.
In the sequel, a boy triggers the Predators’s return to Earth.
Former soldiers and a science teacher are all that stands between the Predators and the end of humanity. Initially, Black declined 20th Century Fox’s desire to have him write and direct, but when the studio told him it was going to be a big-budget movie, Black came on board.
The movie releases September 14, 2018.
11 Rumored: Serenity 2
If you don’t go a year without hearing a Firefly rumor, it’s odd. There have been April Fool’s Day jokes about the TV series getting a season 2 or a reboot, and rumors involving movies about other stories based on the comic books have circulated around the internet for years.
At San Diego Comic Con in 2011, Joss Whedon directly stated that “he’s trying to get a sequel to Serenity greenlit but no studio is biting.” Nothing has been reported since then, but in February 2018, it was announced that 3 novels from Titan Books will be released in the Firefly universe, with Whedon as consulting editor. That’s good news, since the books may be good enough to adapt to TV or film.
10 In Development: Godzilla vs. Kong
Legendary Pictures announced in 2015 a planned remake of King Kong vs. Godzilla from 1962. Godzilla vs. Kong is the fourth movie in the “Monsterverse,” which includes any movie, tie-in book, or video game produced or released by Legendary Pictures.
A month before officially announcing Godzilla vs. Kong, the studio had already stated plans to build a cinematic universe with Kong and Godzilla as the foundation.
Details about the plot are scarce, but director Adam Wingard stated in an interview that it’s a “massive monster brawl movie” with “lots of monsters going crazy on each other.” Ultimately, however, he wanted to make sure that “at the end of the day I want there to be an emotional drive to it.”
The movie is slated to release on May 22, 2020 - after Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019).
9 Rumored: Marvel's The Eternals
In April, rumors that are becoming stronger and stronger debuted about Marvel adapting Jack Kirby’s The Eternals. A couple of sources have reported that Marvel is creating a new franchise around The Eternals. The Eternals are humans that were created by Celestials when they conduct experiments on Earth.
It’s suggested that this franchise is in direct response to DC making New Gods.
An announcement is expected at San Diego Comic Con in July, but with one of the two sources having reported on a fake news item the same day they reported The Eternals, it’s hard to believe this rumor about The Eternals. The characters don’t have a major role in Marvel’s comic universe, but it would be an interesting way to bring in something different not everyone may be familiar with.
8 In Development: Inversion
Inversion is a science fiction thriller where a con man partners with a Chinese physicist to try to save Earth when it loses gravity. There is only one particle accelerator on the planet that is powerful enough to stop the full change in gravity, which would end life on earth, and the two main characters must reach it in time to activate it.
Samuel L. Jackson stars with Yifei Liu and Travis Fimmel. Some of the film will be on location in Shanghai, China and Chicago, Illinois. The movie started filming in September 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. The release date is yet to be determined.
Many are comparing the film, especially from the concept art, to 2012 staring John Cusack.
7 Rumored: Cloverfield 5
The Bad Robot production company loves to keep Cloverfield movies a secret. It’s suspected that Overlord film is Cloverfield 4, but Bad Robot has released information about an upcoming movie called Kolma. This could be Cloverfield 5.
Kolma - a remake of a TV movie from Israel - was announced in 2016, and this fantasy thriller stars Daisy Ridley.
The Cloverfield Paradox released suddenly on Netflix, which means that Cloverfield 5/Kolma may also release without anyone knowing. Even though J.J. Abrams has denied d a Cloverfield 5, evidence from a Reddit user who has “cracked the code” about the plot of Kolma is pretty compelling.
An audio transcript in a file during 10 Cloverfield Lane tipped off fans to The Cloverfield Paradox, so it’s possible an Israeli newspaper gave a clue to Kolma being Cloverfield 5.
6 In Development: Alien: Covenant Sequel
Before Alien: Covenant reached theaters, Ridley Scott told IGN UK in May 2017 that the script for the sequel was being written and production was planned for 2018.
The temporary title for the second in the series was Awakening, which was in line with the other two prequel movies (Prometheus and Covenant), but no official word on title or production schedule has been said.
Scott wants to move away from the Alien, into another story focusing on AIs on a new planet.
At the time, Scott had other projects going and would probably need to finish them before tackling Awakening. Projects like The Cartel, an unnamed western movie, and All the Money in the World (which is done). No release date has been given.
5 Rumored: 1984
The George Orwell novel 1984 has been made into movie three times. First in 1956, then in 1984, then as a TV movie in 2006.
Rumors of a new 1984 began circulating in 2012 when Imagine Entertainment listened to a pitch by Shepard Fairey, who’s best known for creating Barrack Obama’s “HOPE” poster. At the time, Fairey was being considered for a producer role, and Imagine started looking for writers.
In 2015, a movie released called Equals, which was touted as a “romantic remake of 1984,” but Drake Doremus said on Twitter that it “is not related to 1984 at all.” The 1984 rumors have subsided somewhat, but it’s still not known if Imagine finally got the movie rights for 1984 from Orwell’s estate. That’s really the only obstacle.
4 In Development: Asimov's Foundation Adaptation
One of the most classic science fiction novel series, Asimov’s Foundation books, has found its way to Apple. The tech company bought the streaming rights for Skydance to adapt the books into a TV series.
David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Man of Steel) and Josh Friedman (Avatar 2, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) will lead the series to existence. If anyone can take the deep and complex story of the trilogy, it's either of those gentlemen.
This adds to Apple’s original undertaking with shows starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, and a thriller from M. Night Shyamalan. Apple obtained the rights after a bidding war, so no production dates or time frames have been announced.
3 Rumored: Something in The Matrix Universe
Zak Penn (Ready Player One screenwriter) wanted Matrix fans to know, right after the rumor of a reboot surfaced, that what he was working on was not a reboot. He wanted to respond to “inaccurate news” and that “no one could or should” reboot The Matrix. However, what started as a rumor turned into a something slightly more than that.
He said on his twitter, “I’m writing something. Not a reboot, not a continuation…A script in development is not a movie.” There are “many hoops” Penn claimed he had to jump through, “the first one I gotta do myself.”
Nothing more has been released in the wild since October 2017, so it’s possible Penn is still working on the script.
2 In Development: Ad Astra
Ad Astra is the first movie to come from Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox. The movie stars Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, and Donald Sutherland.
The story involves an Army engineer who goes on a personal mission across the galaxy to find his father, who was sent on a one-way mission to Neptune to find alien life.
Casting confirmations started in April of 2017, with the director James Gray stating that Brad Pitt would star. Throughout the rest of the year, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, John Finn (of Cold Case and other supporting movie roles), Donald Sutherland, and Jamie Kennedy were added to the principal cast. Filming commenced in August 2017.
The movie is scheduled to release on January 11, 2019.
1 Rumored: Yoda Standalone Movie
Several standalone Star Wars movies have been rumored (see the Jabba the Hut entry), but one that has recently been teased is a Yoda spin-off. It’s clear Disney will keep making Star Wars movies. With such a rich universe, it’s a matter of choosing what to turn into films.
Frank Oz was asked during an interview on the Little Shop of Horrors director’s cut about Yoda. Oz is synonymous with Yoda because of The Empire Strikes Back.
In a direct statement, Oz said that “such a thing is going to happen.” But then right after, he says confusingly, “Yeah, he is going to…He’s going to be a chorus girl. He’s changing [gender]. He will become, he won’t kick that high.” With the second statement, it seems like a joke, but the first statement is clearer.
What science fiction projects are you excited for (in development or rumored)? Let us know in the comments!