Third time lucky. Desilu Studios has announced that it will produce the sci-fi feature “V The Movie”, a big-budget treatment of the 80’s mini-series, to movie screens worldwide. The film will be written and directed by the original’s creator, Kenneth Johnson and produced by John Hermansen and Barry Opper.
Cast your mind back to 1984 and if you weren’t alive then, well, you missed out. There was some sort of kerfuffle with the Olympic Games coverage and ITV instead decided to screen a sci-fi mini-series called V.
It had actually graced US screens over a year before, in 1983, but back then it took ages for stuff to travel across the Pond. Ahead of its time, it told the story of an apparently peaceful visit by a fleet of alien spacecraft. However, their real intentions were eventually uncovered and it was clear they were here instead to enslave the human race – actually, they were to going to freeze-dry us so they could eat us later – and drain the planet of all its water and other natural resources.
Nothing like this had really been attempted on television before – at least not since The Invaders – and it paved the way for movies like Independence Day, Oblivion plus Falling Skies and many others. It also introduced the world to Michael Ironside and he was joined by series regulars Faye Grant, Jane Badler and beefcake Marc Singer.
The NBC series was a smash hit, on both sides of the Atlantic. The viral marketing campaign in the US was unique for its time. Posters appeared in train stations of a smiling man behind wraparound sunglasses, others grinning along with him, with only a motto “The Visitors are our friends” to explain it. Days later, those posters had a red “v” (for “victory”) spray-painted on them. Nothing suggested this was an ad for a TV show, which made the marketing even more intriguing.
The mini-series was followed by a longer series made in 1984 of 19 episodes that were shown in the UK in two halves the same year. Sadly, by the end, it was clear that budgets were being tightened as the rag-tag human resistance regularly fought off alien attacks only around parts of Los Angeles where it was cheap to film.
It was a shining example of missed potential as the story arcs got sillier and the dark plot lines of Nazi-like occupation and human experimentation were seen less and less in favour of more traditional, less-disturbing, family-friendly episodes.
Then, in 2009, another attempt was made, this time by ABC, to bring the story up to date.
This time it was set primarily in New York although almost all the filming was done in Vancouver. And there were some great re-interpretations of the story and the characters. The primary character was an FBI agent played by Elizabeth Mitchell and Joel Gretsch played a priest and her unlikely sidekick. This time we saw Morena Baccarin from Firefly as Anna and Laura Vandervoort from Smallville play her daughter (Jane Badler had returned to play Diana, Anna’s mother). Former Battlestar Galactica alumi Rekha Sharma and Michael Trucco also briefly popped up.
It was gritty and as interesting as the very first series had been in its day and just like its predecessor, it was cancelled after two seasons.
So here’s hoping that the third time’s a charm.
“We are delighted to team up with Desilu to bring the timeless – and timely – story of resistance against tyranny into the 21st Century,” Johnson said. “V will be the first of a cinematic trilogy which will tell the full epic tale in the manner I always envisioned.”
“Desilu was revolutionary in its time and as the saying goes, everything old is new again,” said Charles B. Hensley, who acquired the Desilu brand with a vision of reimagining Desilu into a global entertainment and commercial empire.
Coming from the consumer products space, it makes sense for the company’s trajectory and shareholders to focus on film and television properties with high merchandising and licensing potential such as V The Movie Franchise,” he said.
“Identifying and driving valuable allied profit centers, maximizing income potential for each property is our ideal content model,” added Michael Mann, Exec VP Business Development.
The highly sought-after project was brought to Desilu by development executive Sean Stone. “V is a multi-billion dollar film franchise and merchandising juggernaut,” said Desilu Exec VP Steven Posen, adding, “we couldn’t be more excited and honored to bring this film to the millions of devoted fans worldwide.”
“It’s no small irony that the new Desilu will be building on the sci-fi tradition with ‘V’, considering Desilu was the original studio responsible for Star Trek!” added Stone.
More details as we get them.
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