Update: Henry Jenkins has told me via Twitter that he was referring to Purefold and had missed the update that the project was no longer happening.
As well as being interesting in all the ways you’d think an interview with Steven Lisberger, creator of Tron, would be interesting, a new video chat conducted by Henry Jenkins has a very surprising twist thrown into the mix too. You can see a video of their chat beyond the break – the first part anyway, while the rest resides at Confessions of an Aca Fan. At the 4:23 mark, Jenkins says the following:
I mean, the Scott Brothers are returning to Blade Runner with a new project right now, which is roughly the same vintage.
The same vintage as Tron, he’s saying, in case you got lost. So, what’s this about a new Blade Runner project…?
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Last week we broke the news that the original screenwriters of Eagle Eye were working on a big screen sequel to Blade Runner. We attempted to contact screenwriter Travis Wright for a few days before we ran the story, but were not met with a response (as it turns out he was in France location scouting for a film). We were however able to speak with three separate people who were in attendance at the Creative Screenwriting special screening of Eagle Eye where Travis revealed his intentions to script Blade Runner 2, and talked about his past history on the project. Within hours of reporting the story, Travis’ former writing partner John Glenn wrote in to clear up some of the story. Apparently he is no longer involved in the project, but he did confirm that he had worked with Travis in developing a sequel for Blade Runner producer Bud Yorkin years earlier.
I was on my way to my press screening of Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies (how ironic) when I received this detailed e-mail from Wright, explaining the entire story, clearing up some of the misconceptions (previs), and discussing his intentions in wanting to script a Blade Runner sequel. With Wright’s permission, I have included most of that email below.
First off, let me just state a few facts. John Glenn and I were paid to explore a potential secret sequel from 03-05 and wrote several BR sequel approaches working with Bud Yorkin. We never went to script — a fact I mentioned at the q and a — and it wasn’t meant to be some big announcement. I’m proud of my work on Eagle Eye and I was there talking about screenwriting to an audience of aspiring writers about my experiences. Having worked on BR is no bs, as I have the contract and pay stubs to prove it. And since Jg and I were paid to write a script, I plan to write one at some point solo with or without anyone’s blessings. Whether anyone ever reads it or even cares remains to be seen.
I probably should’ve never mentioned BR, actually, but it was the day before my first produced credit opened, I just had my first baby Sept 3rd (three weeks before), and I was talking openly about former projects and it came out in that context. I know jg isn’t interested now in even being associated with the idea of a BR sequel, so please have your readers devote any hate mail at me –> as I certainly am.
I am a geek. I am a total fan boy. I have toys all over my office that JG has always made fun of (we’ve been friends since third grade). But I’d sooner cut out my heart than give up the relics of so many hours of imaginative play. My toys are like my dreams — they sustain me.
My single mom (a paralegal, like the ‘Rachel’ character in Eagle Eye, whose name is a nod to the BR character) couldn’t afford to take my brother and I to the movies. So I was a paperboy in Phoenix from 4 grade through 8th grade to afford to see movies every friday and saturday night.
After my paper route, here’s how i supported my film addiction: busboy and then front desk clerk in Kansas City; a sales associate at Kay Bee Toy store in Phoenix; laying adobe roof tiles in the Arizona heat; a maitre de at the restaurant in the Space Needle; a tour guide at Pitzer College; a writing tutor for the Claremont Colleges; a deli employee at Bristol Farms in South Pasadena; a temp at Disney in publicity and marketing; volunteer driver at Sundance for three festivals; a tough desk for a sr. vice president of production at Walt Disney Pictures and Universal Pictures; received a MFA from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, TV, and New Media; and even worked as a handyman for Winona Ryder because my former girlfriend (Sibi Blazic, now Batman’s wife) was her assistant and I’m handy with a hammer.
In short, I paid my dues. Again and again and again.
My only intention as a writer, in pursuing this project, is to help explore some of the questions Blade Runner raises that were the fodder for endless debate among my friends for two decades now.
What does it mean to be human? That’s the central question in life and the paramount question in Science Fiction. More pointedly: Is or isn’t Deckard a replicant? What happens to Rachel? What are the off world colonies like? What happens to replicants once Tyrell is killed by one of his creations? These are some of the questions we explored with Bud Yorkin for a few years and I believe are a great basis for a story many fans like me are dying to see. Working on them has been a dream.
A few more facts. Unrelated to BR, I’ve been developing an original Star Wars-level space epic that I’ve spoken to The Third Floor (the best previsualization team in the business) about ‘prevising’ some of my sequences like they did for Lucas on Star Wars III. As part of those discussions, I’ve taken Bud Yorkin to see what these genuises do in helping filmmakers achieve their visions in a way previous generations of storytellers never imagined. Seeing the techniques TTF are using is like taking acid and seeing a vision of the future of this business. It’s like seeing an iphone when the world is using rotary dials. Astounding.
Side note: TTF even work with dj caruso in ‘prevising’ the opening sequence of Eagle Eye, btw, as well as the tunnel sequence with the unmanned fighter in EE’s third act.
Bud and I have discussed informally about developing a ‘previs’ loosely based on one of my former BR treatments that’s set off world and explores the questions above. No deal is in place. Let me repeat, no deal is in place. JG may end up with a story credit depending on how much of any story work we did previously remains in the final approach. But that is years away and there are many hurdles between now and then, any one of which could kill the project moving forward. So far just keeping the conversation alive is like shark-fishing with dental floss. My fingers are bloody, but i’m convinced someday i’ll succeed. In the meantime, I’ve developed my own slate of original films that you’ll hear more about in the future. And that’s about as clear as I can be at two am in an old abbey outside of Paris on my iTouch.
I’m very proud of my work with John on RED WORLD, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, THE WARRIORS, CLASH OF THE TITANS, RADIANT, THE HEAVEN PROJECT (JG wrote and directed and I was one of five producers) and EAGLE EYE (which we did three official drafts for and I for one am very proud that the finished shooting script is scene for scene, character for character, our note cards from our initial pitch).
I know there will be haters in regards to ever continuing Deckard’s story, but in my lifetime I’d love to sit in the theater on a friday night of its opening weekend and watch as Deckard sees attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. Who wants to be there with me?!? Geek on.
This weekend I received an e-mail from /Film reader Tanner C. informing me that one of the screenwriters of Eagle Eye was working on a screenplay for Blade Runner 2. I spent the weekend trying to get confirmation, and thanks to my friend Frosty at Collider who was able to get in touch with a second person who was also at the event, I was able to confirm that the following was actually said. But before you throw a hissy fit. let me fill you in on all the details and assure you that nothing is being developed by the studio itself, or with the studio’s involvement. Here is the original email:
“I recently attended a Q&A session with one of the writers of ‘Eagle Eye’ after a free screening organized by the magazine Creative Screenwriting. During the Q&A, the writer said that he and whomever it was that helped him co-write the ‘Eagle Eye’ screenplay were in the process of writing a sequel to Blade Runner, and had already contacted the producers of the original, etc., etc. This is probably a load of empty words/wishful thinking on his part, but I for one am appalled by just the notion of a Blade Runner sequel, and thought you’d be as well, so I thought perhaps you’d like to look into this yourself and perhaps use your soapbox to get some fanboys a little pissed, as well. If not, then at least you have a scoop.”
Okay first of all, lets make sure we know who exactly we’re talking about. The screenwriters in question are not Alex Kurtzman or Roberto Orci, but instead Eagle Eye co-writer Travis Wright (who was at the event) and his Eagle Eye co-writer John Glenn. (Update: John Glenn has confirmed that he is no longer involved in the project)
Wright produced a 2005 animated movie which spoofed disaster films, called Disaster! The Movie. While at UCLA, Wright won the Jack Nicholson prize in screenwriting for his WWII drama Hunting the Wolf. At one point Wright and Glenn were attached to write a remake of The Warriors for Tony Scott/Paramount and Louis Leterrier’s remake of Clash of the Titans.
Wright revealed at the Creative Screenwriting event that they have been working on various treatments for a Blade Runner sequel over the last couple years. And there is also the claim that recently the duo have been working with Blade Runner co-executive producer Bud Yorkin on the project. It should be noted that Yorkin likely doesn’t control the rights to a Blade Runner sequel, and all of this is being developed outside of the studio.
But this isn’t just some small side project, Travis also claims that they are already working with a pre-visualization team on some of the hunter action sequences for their eventual pitch with the studio. I don’t believe that Ridley Scott is involved, but the screenwriting team has worked directly with his brother Tony Scott on projects, so their might be a possible connection.
All of this really scares the hell out of me. Blade Runner is one of the most beloved sci-fi films of all time, and it is a movie that doesn’t need a sequel. If Scott had an idea, and really believed it was worth making, then maybe MAYBE. But we certainly don’t need a sequel written by the second teir team of Eagle Eye. Lets hope to God this doesn’t happen.
UPDATE: I just received an e-mail from John Glenn, who claims that he is no longer working with Travis Wright on the Blade Runner sequel. I’m guessing this means that Travis is just working on the project by himself now. The email is reprinted below with permission from Glenn:
John Glenn, here. I just read your article about myself and Travis Wright working on a remake of Blade Runner … Travis and I actually broke off as writing partners years ago – after the first draft of Eagle Eye. Due to previous commitments, I couldn’t make the screening / Q&A last week — so to be honest, I have no idea what Travis was talking about or why he brought up a project we were tooling with years ago, when we still wrote together. There was a point where Travis and I were working with Bud Yorkin on a sequel to Blade Runner, but that was years back. It never got too far off the ground because the movie is so perfect, so the more we thought about it, the more uneasy we became with the idea. Anyway, just an note to clear the air. My apologies to you and your readers for the confusion Travis created.