Asteroids is one of those video game properties that Hollywood has toyed with cracking open for a while. The name has recognition for any gamer who knows their classics, and is evocative even to those who don’t. There’s no story to the game, however, just a ship blasting away to stay alive.

No wonder it has been in development for several years; while there’s potential, there’s also not much to go on, and therefore room for dithering and competing ideas. But one of the project’s overseers suggests there’s a single take on the title in place now, and a plan to make it work. Read More »

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]

Universal Taps a New Screenwriter For ‘Asteroids’

Briefly: In 2009 Universal and Atari partnered to begin the process of developing a movie based on Asteroids, one of the very earliest classic arcade video games. (Or, more properly, Universal won an auction to the rights and Atari took the studio’s money.) There is no story in the game at all — players control a small ship that has to blast its way to safety (which never comes) through a field of giant asteroids.

Appropriately for a big sci-fi film with little story, Roland Emmerich was loosely attached to Asteroids for a while, but ultimately passed and decided to make Singularity for Sony instead. But Universal is going forward with the movie, and has just hired Evan Spiliotopoulos (Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, Battle for Terra, and perhaps most crucial, some work on Snow White and the Huntsman and Wanted 2) to write a new draft.

All we’ve got with respect to plot is that the movie might feature ” two estranged brothers that must team up to save Earth from an alien race.” That seems like it came out of the Matt Lopez draft that got things moving at Universal. [THR]

Good news: Roland Emmerich passed on a big sci-fi project. But there’s no news here about the director deciding not to do an adaptation of Isaac Asimov‘s classic sci-fi novel series Foundation, alas. Instead he has passed on the sci-fi film for which is is exceptionally well-suited: a big-screen story inspired by Atari’s game Asteroids.

Emmerich was linked to Asteroids last year, but now as he promotes his Shakespeare conspiracy film Anonymous (which is actually garnering no small praise at TIFF) the director says he decided to skip the Atari film in favor of making Singularity, a sci-fi film picked up by Sony earlier this year, and about which we know relatively little. Read More »

Of course someone wants Roland Emmerich to direct a film based (probably very very loosely) on the classic video game Asteroids. Nothing else would make sense. We’ve known for some time that Atari wanted to make a film using the game license, and two years ago the rights to do so went to Universal. The studio hasn’t done much with it, at least in a public sense. All those Hasbro movies took priority. (Note to Atari: get tougher lawyers when signing licensing deals.)

But now there is a report that Asteroids, the movie based on a game about blowing up rocks, has been offered to Roland Emmerich, famous for blowing up, well, everything. Read More »


public enemies posterIn this episode of the /Filmcast, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar and Adam Quigley find out what this whole Mumblecore deal is all about, try to write the plot of the new Asteroids film, assess the career and etymology of Nimrod Antal, discuss the look of Public Enemies, and get excited about the trailers of Jennifer’s Body and The Informant. Special guest Dan Trachtenberg joins us from the Totally Rad Show.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next Monday at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST at Slashfilm’s live page as we review Bruno.

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Universal To Make Asteroids Movie


When movie studios are developing big budget big screen movies based on Stretch Armstrong and Candyland, I knew it was only a matter of time before Hollywood started to mine some of the classic video games of the children of the 70’s/80’s. Universal has won a four-studio bidding war to win the film rights to the classic Atari video game Asteroids. Newcomer Matthew Lopez, who came out of Disney’s writing program and did work on Bedtime Stories, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Race to Witch Mountain, has been hired to write the screen adaptation.

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