While Universal has been in control of the rights to remake David Cronenberg's 1983 oddball classic Videodrome for some time they haven’t done much in the way of progressing the project into the production stage, until now. We knew that Ehren Kruger, one of the writers on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, was scripting as well as producing the remake with Daniel Bobker, but the thought of redoing Cronenberg without that psychedelic '80s context felt wrong.
Nevertheless, Universal is continuing to plug along, and today have announced celebrated commercial director Adam Berg will helm the project. Berg, best known for his freeze-frame Phillips Carousel commercial – the one featuring a swat team battling a troop of cops a la The Dark Knight – has yet to direct a feature film, although his star has been on the rise since snagging the Film Grand Prix at Cannes (for his work on the aforementioned commercial). This isn't the first we've heard of Berg either -- he was, at one point, being courted for the reboot of Daredevil.
There's no denying that Berg has a certain sense of visual panache, and that he's an exciting up-and-coming filmmaker, but handing over Cronenberg source material, and Videodrome at that, as a first feature is a bit odd.
As far as Videodrome is concerned, the original starred James Woods as the character of Max Renn, a down-and-out Cable TV station owner who was looking for the next big thing. Enter 'Videodrome,' a hyper realistic series based around crude acts of violence -- that ultimately begins distorting its viewers' sense of reality.
Videodrome was Cronenberg, who'd just literally blown minds with Scanners, firing on all cylinders. He's now gone on to deliver more approachable, by comparison, fare in Eastern Promises and A History of Violence, but may be getting back into the groove with his most recent effort, Cosmopolis.
There are several different ways in which Kruger and Bobker could approach Videodrome – set it as an expose on reality television, make yet another commentary on the media's obsession with violence – but the two initially pitched the project to Universal with the intent to “modernize the concept, infusing it with the possibilities of nano-technology and blow it up into a large-scale sci-fi action thriller.” Granted, there are a lot of logic leaps that audiences have to make when viewing Videodrome, but attempting to explain the bizarre content away with nano-technology is likely to diminish the narrative's appeal.
It's still fairly early, but the placement of Berg on the project gives the impression it's starting to get off the ground. Hopefully the combination of the director's visual style and some strong writing from Kruger can help elevate the project to a status above being simply another '80s sci-fi remake.