MGM isn’t down and out just yet, or at least that is how they would have you believe it. The studio has announced yet another project, a big screen adaptation of the 1960′s black and white sci-fi television series The Outer Limits. The anthology series, like the Twilight Zone, was known to have a plot twist at the end of most of the stories.
Variety estimates the deal to be in the mid-six figures — MGM has hired screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan to pen the script. The screenwriting duo was discovered during Project Greenlight and penned all three of the Feast film, as well as Saw IV, V, VI and the upcoming Saw 3D).
Each episode began with the following narration (later shortened):
“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits.”
The series was broadcast on ABC from 1963 to 1965, and 49 episodes were produced. A revised show aired on Showtime from 1995 to 1999, and on the Sci-Fi Channel until 2002. All 49 episodes of the original series are available on Hulu, as well as 149 episodes of the new version. According to Wikipedia:
Writers for The Outer Limits included creator Stevens and Joseph Stefano (screenwriter of Hitchcock’s Psycho), who was the series’ first-season producer and creative guiding force. Stefano wrote more episodes than any other writer for the show. Future Oscar winning screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown) would write “The Chameleon”, which was also the final episode filmed for the first season. Two especially notable second-season episodes “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier” were written by Harlan Ellison, with the latter episode winning a Writers’ Guild Award. The first season combined science-fiction and horror, while the second season was more focused on ‘hard’ science-fiction stories, dropping the recurring “scary monster” motif of the first season. Each show in the first season was to have a monster or creature as a critical part of the story line.
Turning an anthology television project to the big screen has always been a tough proposition. Hollywood has had better luck turning individual episodes into feature length films. However, I think most people would expect an Outer Limits movie to be an anthology of stories.