Night Of The Comet Remake Is 'Still Alive,' But In A Different Form, According To Roxanne Benjamin [Exclusive]

"Since before recorded time, it had swung through the universe in an elliptical orbit so large that its very existence remained a secret of time and space; but now in the last few years of the 20th century, the visitor was returning." 

The opening narration of Thom Eberhardt's 1984 post-apocalyptic gem "Night of the Comet" sets the stage for a sci-fi adventure featuring a pair of sisters ("The Last Starfighter" star Catherine Mary Stewart and "Chopping Mall" star Kelli Maroney) who wake up in the wake of a world-ending event. Released the same year as "Gremlins" and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," "Comet" was one of the early mainstream carriers of the newly-established PG-13 label which allowed its targeted teen demographic to enjoy the thrills of zombies and scavenger skirmishes without having to beg mommy and daddy to chaperone. Showcasing adventurous youth protagonists and a disaster spectacle on the level of its Reagan-era peers "Ghostbusters" and "Red Dawn," "Comet" reigns supreme to this day as a witty, fun b-movie.

Back in 2018, it was announced that a remake was in the works for Orion Pictures, with "Body at Brighton Rock" writer-director Roxanne Benjamin at the helm. A producer of some of the found-footage "V/H/S" movies and director of segments in horror anthologies "Southbound" and "X/X," Benjamin has the bonafides to tell a crisp, genre-drenched spooky story – if the studio lets her.

Speaking with /Film's Ryan Scott, Benjamin gives a status update on the hyped project. She tells Scott:

"That's an interesting one. It's still alive, just not really in the same iteration, but it's still kicking. It's gone through a lot of different — everything's consolidating with everything. The snake is eating itself in our industry right now. So it's gone through a lot of different hands, I think, throughout the process, but it's still out there."

Putting the comet on ice

A year after the movie was announced, Benjamin told the film site Birth.Movies.Death. that she submitted a finished screenplay to Orion Pictures. The script was said to lean more into the sci-fi aspect of the original than the humor. While the original movie underlined its good nature with lines like "You were born with an ***hole, Doris, you don't need Chuck," the remake would have likely embraced the bond between the surviving siblings and taken on the dejected posture of its end-of-the-world peers "The Omega Man" and "Dawn of the Dead," thought she now clarifies that her script is "super fun." This version, Benjamin tells /Film, "would not be happening" due to uncontrollable circumstances on the business side. She tells Scott:

"There's other stuff that's going on with it. That movie division, I think, is gone now, or I can't even remember. I think Orion Pictures, they stopped doing their own features and they were just doing pickups at some point. So their original features division kind of stopped being active. That was a couple years ago. The original script that I wrote was part of that group. So now it's in that weird limbo where that can never exist because it is in this entity that, I don't know, it's a bunch of business affairs stuff. And it's one of my favorite scripts that I wrote though, which is kind of a bummer. It's super fun."

These days, Orion backs more somber tales like Chinonye Chukwu's biographical drama "Till" and Sarah Polley's "Women Talking," both of which have earned critical acclaim. Benjamin shows no signs of stopping, either: her latest feature, "There's Something Wrong With the Children," brings the creepy kid thrills and arrives digitally and on-demand on January 17, 2023.