EXCLUSIVE: One of the greatest science fiction stories from the past will be on the big screen in the future, courtesy of Angryfilms. Armageddon 2419 A.D., the sci-fi classic that was written in 1928 and originally appeared in Amazing Stories magazine, centers on Anthony Rogers, the character who later went by the legendary name of Buck Rogers. An interesting twist: One of the screenwriters is the grandson of the newspaper syndicator John F. Dille, who brought Buck Rogers to mass audiences, expanded upon the character and arranged for a daily sci-fi continuity comic strip to appear in syndication (something unheard of at the time).
The original story, written by Philip Francis Nowlan, is an adventure about Rogers, who — while investigating a mysterious gas leak and then getting trapped — is held in suspended animation, where he survives for just short of 500 years. He awakens on an Earth that is caught in a futuristic civil war, with the remnants of the United States battling both futuristic Soviets and Mongolians.
Known as the original Buck Rogers story, Armageddon 2419 A.D. was a prescient novel, predicting among other things ray guns, drones, cell phones and night vision goggles. (Jet packs came along later in the series.) As Buck Rogers, the character of Anthony Rogers became a popular staple of the newspaper comics pages. Later on it was a successful film serial, a radio program and in 1979 at the height of Star Wars mania, it became a well-merchandized NBC series starring Gil Gerard that ran for two seasons.
The new film will focus on a future informed by the present and predicts a 2419 based on scientific/technological advances in the 90 years since the novel was originally published. The Rogers character, having lost everyone he loved centuries ago, will be darker and more brooding, a fish out of water who struggles to find a way to fit in with a war-torn world.
The feature project will be penned by Flint Dille and Ed Neumeier. Dille is an established screenwriter whose work goes back to the original Transformers animated series and animated film. His series of graphic novels Agent 13 is in active development at Universal. Currently, he is the creative lead on Google’s Ingress, its geo-mobile alternate reality game. Neumeier is an established voice in the large-budget science fiction arena, being the guy behind such classics as RoboCop and Starship Troopers.
The project is being produced by Don Murphy and Susan Montford of Angryfilms, the company behind such other science fiction hits as Real Steel and the Transformers series. They plan to present a visual presentation to studios; the idea is to create a franchise tentpole series surrounding the futuristic world and characters. Should be an easy sell as the project is, of course, highly merchandisable.