The first photos have arrived from the upcoming modern-set adaptation of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, starring Gabriel Byrne and Elizabeth McGovern. The series was developed for TV by Canal Plus, Fox Networks Group Europe & Africa, and AGC Television, and is currently seeking networks to pick it up in the U.S. and Europe.
Published in 1898, War of the Worlds remains one of the best-known and most celebrated science fiction works of all time. It tells the story of a Martian invasion of Earth, and one man's efforts to survive in a world being transformed by the merciless alien species. War of the Worlds has been adapted many times before, most famously as a 1938 radio drama directed and narrated by Orson Welles, a 1953 movie directed by Byron Haskin, a 1978 concept album by Jeff Wayne, and a 2005 movie directed by Steven Spielberg.
This new TV adaptation, set in the modern day and created by Howard Overman (Misfits), consists of eight episodes and stars Byrne and McGovern alongside Léa Drucker, Natasha Little, Daisy Edgar Jones, Stéphane Caillard, Adel Bencherif, and Guillaume Gouix. These first photos (via Variety) suggest that the series will show the alien invasion from different perspectives, with survivors shown taking shelter in the London Underground, and soldiers in French uniforms carefully making their way across the dangerous surface level. The series was directed by Gilles Coulier (Cargo) and Richard Clark (Outlander).
War of the Worlds doesn't yet have a release date, as it's still in the process of securing distributors. Fox is currently shopping it in Europe and Africa, and AGC is handling distribution in North America. Overman's sci-fi series Misfits, which ran for five seasons, was a widely-praised irreverent take on the superhero genre, about a group of young delinquents on the same community service crew who are suddenly gifted bizarre superpowers. If War of the Worlds can deliver the same kind of creativity and strong performances, it should prove to be a worthy addition to the long list of adaptations.
Commenting on the series, Byrne said, "What Wells also understood is that the greatest threat is not from out there, but from inside ourselves, and we see in this new telling of the story a warning that it is only our own humanity that will save us." Of course, in the ending of the novel and most adaptations it's not humans who eventually fight back the alien invasion; instead, the Martians are killed off by pathogens on Earth that they have no immunity to.
This is actually one of two TV adaptations of War of the Worlds that were made concurrently, with the other being a BBC series set in Edwardian England. It will be interesting to compare these two new takes when they finally make their way to the small screen.