EXCLUSIVE: Matt Reeves has signed on at Universal Pictures to write and direct a feature based on the famed Ray Nelson short story 8 O’Clock in the Morning. Strike Entertainment partners Eric Newman and Marc Abraham are producing.
The story is about a man who awakens one morning with the crystal-clear realization that we are surrounded daily by the presence of aliens that are controlling society. It was owned by the studio because it was used as the basis for the 1988 John Carpenter film They Live. In that film, aliens were discovered through the use of special glasses. None of that is being used here, and the film is not considered a remake.
Reeves last directed the remake Let Me In and before that Cloverfield. He said he saw what could be his next directing assignment as soon as he read the short story by Nelson, a sci-fi author/cartoonist who was a pal of Philip K. Dick and who as a young man invented that nerd staple the propeller beanie.
“I saw an opportunity to do a movie that was very point-of-view driven, a psychological science fiction thriller that explores this guy’s nightmare,” Reeves told me. “There could be a desperate love story at the center of this. Carpenter took a satirical view of the material and the larger political implication that we’re being controlled. I am very drawn to the emotional side, the nightmare experience with the paranoia of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or a Roman Polanski-style film.”
Newman said Strike sought out Reeves because so much of the effectiveness of his work is based on point of view. “Whether it was the POV of the camera in Cloverfield or the young boy realizing that a vampire was living next store in Let Me In, Matt’s work shines at that,” Newman said. “There is a paranoid element to this, but the audience is in lock step with this guy, seeing the aliens from his point of view.”
Reeves said he will begin writing immediately. I asked him about a Cloverfield sequel and, while Reeves said it’s still on the drawing board, his collaborators have been busy. Drew Goddard directed The Cabin in the Woods and JJ Abrams has been busy with Super 8 and the upcoming Star Trek sequel. “If we crack a story we all love, we’ll do it,” said Reeves, whose deal was made by CAA, 3 Arts and Karl Austen.
Strike just wrapped the remake of another film that Carpenter directed, The Thing.Strike also has the untitled sci-fi action movie directed by Andrew Niccols that stars Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy.