JJ Abrams Producing Victorian-Era Robot Movie

Ziegfeld Theater

Is J.J. Abrams about to bring steampunk to the masses? Not quite, but Paramount has bought the rights to Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel, a graphic novel that tells of the world’s first robot, supposedly invented in the late 19th century. J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot will handle development of the film.

THR says that the graphic novel / picture book hybrid by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett was published last year, but doesn’t offer much more detail beyond the basic fact of Abrams’ and Bad Robot’s involvement. I can’t see how this would be a small movie like some of Bad Robot’s smaller development deals; to make the scope of this one come alive is going to require money as well as creative effort.

Here’s the Amazon description of the book:

Meet Boilerplate, the world’s first robot soldier—not in a present-day military lab or a science-fiction movie, but in the past, during one of the most fascinating periods of U.S. history. Designed by Professor Archibald Campion in 1893 as a prototype, for the self-proclaimed purpose of “preventing the deaths of men in the conflicts of nations,” Boilerplate charged into combat alongside such notables as Teddy Roosevelt and Lawrence of Arabia. Campion and his robot also circled the planet with the U.S. Navy, trekked to the South Pole, made silent movies, and hobnobbed with the likes of Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla.

You say you’ve never heard of Boilerplate before? That’s because this book is the fanciful creation of a husbandand-wife team who have richly imagined these characters and inserted them into accurate retellings of history. This full-color chronicle is profusely illustrated with graphics mimicking period style, including photos, paintings, posters, cartoons, maps, and even stereoscope cards. Part Jules Verne and part Zelig, it’s a great volume for a broad range of fans of science fiction, history, and robots.

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