JMS Looking (Again) to Make Big Screen ‘Babylon 5’


Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski has come along way since his days penning the Saturday morning adventures of Captain Power and The Real GhostbustersIn the last couple of years he’s written the screenplays for Clint Eastwood‘s The Changling, as well as Underworld: Awakening, and Ninja Assassin as well as the stories for Thor and World War Z. His next project is Sense8, the new Netflix series from the Wachowski siblings, but it seems that JMS isn’t just thinking about the future, he’s thinking about the past. One of the under-reported bits of news from San Diego Comic Con, is that Straczynski hopes to once again bring his seminal sci-fi hit Babylon 5 to the big screen, and he’s hoping that the fifth time’s the charm.

It was a British website called TVWise, that caught up with man known to B5 fans everywhere as the Great Maker (a take on Gene Roddenberry‘s nickname “The Great Bird of the Galaxy” and a Babylon 5 reference to an alien deity) and got him to reveal his new plans for the sci-fi series that ran from 1994 to 99. Looking to the future, Straczynski said he’s now planning on getting a script for a B5 feature locked by the end of 2015, and for production to begin the following year. The caveat? This project will not be a continuation of the series, but rather it will be a reboot.

But…. Underline But there, JMS says there will be an opportunity for actors from the original series, like Bruce Boxleitner (TRON) and Mira Furlan (Lost) to play a new role in the rebooted film. “I’d love to see Bruce as the President of the Earth Alliance,” Straczynski said. Does that means he wants the man who played the show’s hero, Capt. John Sheridan, to instead play one its villains, the treacherous President Clark. Or maybe he wants Boxleitner to play the martyred President Santiago. Now my head hurts…

Admittedly, the idea of a reboot doesn’t sound so bad with the original creator looking to both write and direct the reboot. Warner Bros., which owns the rights to the Babylon 5 property will be given the chance to greenlight the $80-$100 million film, but if they should pass, Straczynski intends to proceed with raising the money himself and shooting it through his Studio JMS shingle. Presumably, Warner Bros. will then have the option of distributing the finished film, which they may go for if you look at the Veronica Mars movie as an example to follow. (Although Babylon 5 is likely too costly for crowd-sourcing options.)

The next question is, what form will the Babylon 5 movie take? The series was ahead of its time, telling a five-year self-contained story with a beginning, middle and end. Adjustments were made throughout the course of the show as actors came and went, or as plot developments failed to work out one way or another, but for the most part, the show unfurled as intended with Straczynski himself writing all but 18 of the series’ 110 episodes. The series took place on a United Nations-style space station run by the Earth Alliance where the major alien civilizations all met and negotiated under a banner of maintaining galactic peace. Over the course of the five year arc though, Babylon 5 became the center of a great war between powerful ancient aliens, and the linchpin in a conspiracy involving tyrannical members of the Earth government seeking to build a fascistic regime across the human worlds.

For the record, Straczynski has tried numerous times to continue the Babylon 5 saga beginning with the first spin-off, Crusade, in 1999. That was followed up by the 2002 TV movie, The Legend of the Rangers on Sci-Fi (no Sy-Fy), which was supposed to be the backdoor pilot for a new series. Around 2004, JMS started prepping his first attempt to bring Babylon 5 to the big screen with a script called The Memory of Shadows, which was derailed by the death of two B5 co-stars Andreas Katsulas (G’Kar) and Richard Biggs (Dr. Franklin). The last we heard or saw from Babylon 5 was the direct to video anthology The Lost Tales, which was released in the summer of 2007.

So fingers are crossed that now is the time and the place for new Babylon 5 adventures.The time is certainly ripe with Guardians of the Galaxy making people giddy about adventures in space again and with new Star Wars coming soon. Although it’s understandable to be doubtful about whether or not this all will come to pass, to quote one the series often used passages, faith manages. I guess we’ll find out.

What do you Bastards think? Interested in more Babylon 5 or is it better left to the past? Sound off below.

Source: Screen Rant


Category: Film, TV

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