EXCLUSIVE: After years of trying, Warner Bros finally has found a way to extend its hit Will Smith last-man-on-Earth blockbuster I Am Legend into a potential new franchise. The studio is working on a reboot that isn’t meant to star Smith, who has been reluctant to do sequels and so far has avoided a reprise in Independence Day 2. Warner is retrofitting A Garden At The End Of The World, a spec script that the studio bought back in April from Gary Graham, who was working at the Apple store in midtown Manhattan when he posted his script on the Black List website and got the attention of CAA and manager Brooklyn Weaver. They signed him and sent his script out. Amid several bids, Warner Bros acquired what was described as a sci-fi version of John Wayne’s The Searchers. When Graham was brought in to rewrite his script, the studio by then had talked to the I Am Legend producers and noted enough similarities to the themes and mythology of that film that they asked the scribe to consider a redraft to fit that property.
Original I Am Legend producers Akiva Goldsman of Weed Road, Overbrook’s James Lassiter and Safehouse Pictures’ Joby Harold are on board to produce, along with Vertigo’s Roy Lee, and Weaver. The studio made a previous attempt to prequelize Legend, hiring Arash Amel to write a script that would have brought Smith’s Robert Neville scientist character back, right before the calamitous events that left him alone on the planet. They just couldn’t figure it out and scrapped the attempt. The 2007 original grossed $586 million worldwide, $256 million of it domestic.
This would not be the first time that a free-standing script was retrofitted to extend a franchise. The Jonathan Hensleigh script Simon Says was turned into Die Hard With A Vengeance; George Nolfi’s script Honor Among Thieves became the basis for Ocean’s Twelve and most recently, Adam Cozad’s Dubai into the Jack Ryan reboot. As for Graham, he is now a long way from selling iPhones and is making a solid living as a New York-based screenwriter. CAA and Weaver still rep Graham, along with lawyer Jeff Frankel. WB’s Andy Fischel is overseeing this. Jonathan Krauss and Ian Puente, who were very involved when this project was sold as an original, will be exec producers.