Briefly: Universal doesn’t want to let Asteroids float away, despite losing the interest of one-time potential director Roland Emmerich. The big-screen adaptation — I think here, the term “adaptation” has to be used very liberally — of the early ’80s arcade game has just picked up a new screenwriter. Jez Butterworth (the playwright who co-wrote Doug Liman’s Fair Game) has been hired to take up screenwriting duties in the wake of Matt Lopez and Evan Spiliotopoulos.

This news still doesn’t tell us much about what Universal plans to do with the film. The game doesn’t have a story — it’s just a lone ship trying to survive ever-thicker belts of asteroids, with the occasional incursion from a menacing UFO to complicate the situation. If it weren’t for Battleship, I’d say that the tabula rasa aspect of Asteroids is a great playground for a screenwriter to come up with just about any sci-fi plot they want, so long as there’s an asteroid or two in there. Battleship, also from Universal, demonstrated that things aren’t so easy. That film wasn’t a giant success, though it did well overseas, so perhaps that’ll push Universal to be more careful this time. All told, it’s a wash for me, from an interest perspective, until we know a lot more. [Variety]

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