Posted on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Y: The Last Man co-creator Brian K Vaughn revealed that New Line Cinema has only a few months left to get Y: The Last Man into production before they lose the rights to make the big screen adaptation.
It’s my understanding that the rights to “Y: The Last Man” will revert back to co-creator Pia Guerra and me for the first time in a decade if the planned New Line adaptation doesn’t start shooting in the next few months, so I expect there will be some “Y” news in 2014 either way.
Last we heard, New Line was fast tracking the project to get the adaptation into production this year. But if they don’t act soon, New Line could lose the rights to make the film at all. The Warner Bros-owned company has been trying to bring the comic book series to the big screen for nearly a decade. I’ve been following and reporting on the developments of this adaptation for the last eight and a half years. Lets take a look back at the history of the development.
Hollywood has been trying to bring the Vertigo comic book series Y: The Last Man to the big screen since 2005. Comic co-creator Brian K Vaughn wrote a screenplay which he claimed “everybody at New Line seemed to like it”. In 2007, Vaughn commented that the big screen adaptation wasn’t “in development hell. It’s in development heck.”
“I finished the screenplay a few months ago. Everybody at New Line seemed to like it. For Hollywood, it’s either really fast or it’s really slow, and it’s really slow right now. I’ve done my job and it’s out to directors now and it could be totally out of my control after this.”
Shia LaBeouf was rumored to be trying to get it to the screen as a starring vehicle. New Line Cinema hired Disturbia director D.J. Caruso to bring the comic series to the big screen. Vaughn’s original screenplay attempted to squeeze the entire story (which was told over 60 issues) into just one movie, but Caruso was fighting to make it a trilogy that would cover the first 14 issues. Producer JC Spink revealed that he wanted Alicia Keys to play Agent 355. Vaughn did another draft, but DJ decided to bring in collaborator Carl Ellsworth to write a script – hoping to get the film in theaters for Summer 2010. One of the big changes Caruso added to the mix was “a ticking clock”, Yorick gets progressively sick when he gets separated from Ampersand.
By Summer 2009, Shia LaBeouf found himself no longer interested in the project and Caruso abandoned the adaptation when Warner Bros didn’t want to go with his trilogy plans. While working on Clash of the Titans, Louis Leterrier had talks to possibly direct, but nothing came of that. Human Target writing duo Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia were then hired to go back to page one rewrite, again trying to cram the whole story into one movie. By September 2012, word was that New Line was very happy with the screenplay by Federman and Scia and were meeting with directors to get the project on the fast track.
The latest attempt to bring the comic to the big screen happened when commercial director Dan Trachtenberg, hot off the viral success of his short film Portal: No Escape, won out against other directors and was hired to direct. And by direct, we mean develop the project to direct. Last we heard, Producer David Goyer said that they had “a script that’s as close as it’s ever been, so knock on wood. That could go into production next year… The first movie is meant to function as a standalone, but hopefully continue. Hopefully there will be others.”
Those last comments from Goyer sounded pretty positive, but you never really know what is really going on behind the scenes. If the studio is really close to ready with a script, it is possible that they could begin production before the rights revert.
I have been more scared than excited about a Y: The Last Man movie for the majority of the years I’ve been covering the project’s development. I use to think that the comic book series would better fit a long form television series adaptation. I got really excited for the project when Trachtenberg got hired as I know he’s a real fan of the material (I first learned of the comic book series from a glowing review in an old podcast that Trachtenberg use to co-host) but more importantly, he has the creative talent to make it work on the big screen. If the rights were to revert, Y could possibly become a television series. But I’m no longer sure that a Y television series could even matter in a world where we already have “what if” post apocalyptic shows like Revolution and The Walking Dead.
Y: The Last Man is one of the best non-superhero comic book series I’ve ever read. The story follows Yorick Brown, a young amateur escape artist, and his Capuchin monkey, Ampersand, the last two men on Earth. Something (speculated to be a plague) simultaneously kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome – including embryos, fertilized eggs, and even sperm. Society is plunged into chaos as infrastructures collapse and the surviving women everywhere try to cope with the loss of the men. Yorick goes on a mission to find his girlfriend Beth, who was on vacation in Australia.