Tuesday 15 November 2011

Doctor Who movie might possibly happen - eventually

OK, so everyone and his dog is blogging about this right now, but I'm going to hop on the bandwagon. Earlier today there was an announcement over on Variety that David Yates is going to be helming the production of a new Doctor Who movie. Since then, the sections of the web concerned with Who, sci-fi and movies in general have gone into overenthusiastic reportage and speculation, the British radio stations have all started dropping in DJs' opinions on the news, and no doubt tomorrow's papers will be spinning it and stretching it into a headline worthy 'exclusive.' Already, I'm told, irate fans have started organising a petition to shut down production, incensed at news that the film won't be a direct continuation of the show. This is particularly laughable; not only the desire to shut down a production that hasn't actually started yet with only the vaguest idea what it will be like, but the very suggestion that a few angry geeks could have any bearing on such a thing.

So, while I'll happily join the opinion and speculation brigade, let's get a few things in perspective here. Firstly, there have been rumblings about a Who movie periodically for years, that have come to precisely nil. There were two movies in the Sixties - the Amicus Dalek movies, remakes of early TV serials - and a TV movie in 1996, which was the end result of a long and torturous production development which was one of many that struggled on in the Nineties. All the rest of these came to nothing, as did Tom Baker's attempt to produce his own movie in the Seventies, Doctor Who Meets Scratchman. The rumour mill has slowed down a little with the show's return to telly, but now seems to be stepping back up to full power again. Only a few months ago, the web was awash with totally unfounded rumours of a Tim Burton reimagining.

David Yates is a notable director, with numerous film and television directorial credits behind him. He's shot to great acclaim recently due to his directing the final four films of the Harry Potter series. Nothing that he has said, as far as I can make out, suggests that his Doctor Who aspirations are currently anything more than that. It's being planned, negotiated, talked about. That doesn't mean it will actually make it into production. Worthwhile films helmed by hugely talented people can languish in Development Hell for years. Nonetheless, this is not just an internet rumour - there are genuine, if brief, quotes from the man - but it's still early days. There's no guarantee that this will become anything more than another failed project.

I hope I'm wrong. Yates has some clout, and a better chance of getting this into production than most previous attempts. The BBC would be foolish to dismiss the idea. Even if it's not a BBC production, they would still generate huge revenue from the rights sale. A big bucks Hollywood Who could be huge. A number of fans are getting upset by the indication that it will break with the continuity of the TV series. “It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena,” says Yates. “Russell T Davies and then Steven Moffat have done their own transformations, which were fantastic, but we have to put that aside and start from scratch.” That's pretty hard to argue with. A TV series is a different beast to a movie. The audience will be somewhat different. It will have to sell worldwide from the off, rather than being a British production that's flogged overseas as a secondary. I'm not certain it needs to totally break with continuity - the nature of Doctor Who is such that it can have an entirely different cast, with a different array of characters, to the TV series, with its own setting and storyline, and still be comfortably part of the wide world of Who. The series has been enough different things over the years. The recent Star Trek film, which recast and rebooted but maintained a respectful link to the original, is a good example of how it could work. Nonetheless, a full wiping of the slate is more likely, with only the basic concepts the same. While, as a fan, I'd prefer the possibility of it all fitting together, I won't have a problem with it starting afresh. I would prefer a British actor as the Doctor, but I won't refuse to watch it if an American or Canadian or anyone else is cast. I would prefer the TARDIS to remain a police box, but I won't write an angry letter to Yates if he decides to change it for a fire hydrant or the Zero Milestone.

What I'm trying to say is, "Let's wait and see." Calm down, angry fans, it may never happen, and, if it does, give it a chance. You may even like it.

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