EXCLUSIVE: Fox/Disney has attached Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi to “crack” Flash Gordon, as an animated feature film. John Davis is producing.
I had heard that the inventive filmmaker Waititi was signing on to write and direct, but his camp indicates it’s too early to gauge exactly what his role would be. The director is in post on Jojo Rabbit, his scripted adaptation of the Christine Leunens novel, a satire in which a young boy in Hitler’s army discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl from the Nazis. Despite the ruthless nationalism in the air, the youth is torn and one of the voices guiding him is his idiot imaginary friend Adolf Hitler (Waititi plays him).
Waititi recently extricated himself from another animated film, Bubbles, the Netflix stop motion project. Even though the film went in a $20 million package after ferocious bidding during the 2017 Cannes market for a Black List script by Isaac Adamson, the project was challenged once HBO aired Leaving Neverland, an HBO documentary about two former child companions of Michael Jackson whose parents inexplicably allowed them to take part in sleepovers with the singer. Now grown, tormented men, the duo alleged that Jackson engaged in pedophile sexual relationships with each of them. The Jackson estate has denied this, but as inventive as Waititi is as a filmmaker, how do you make any movie about Jackson’s life, as seen through the eyes of his pet chimp? The official reason for Waititi’s withdrawal was “scheduling.”
Flash Gordon has been in development for what seems like ages — Kingsman‘s Matthew Vaughn and Overlord director Julius Avery are the most recent filmmakers to align with the project — but an animated film is an intriguing way to tackle an iconic property that slipped into the cheesy category thanks to a 1980 film that starred Sam Jones and Max Von Sydow and had a memorable theme song and soundtrack by Freddie Mercury and Queen.
Flash Gordon returns to its origins here. It began in 1934 as a science-fiction comic strip created and originally drawn by Alex Raymond to compete with Buck Rogers. Earth is threatened by a collision with the planet Mongo, and Flash is sent off in a rocket ship in an attempt to stop the disaster. He’s pitted against Mongo’s tyrannical ruler Ming the Merciless. The comic strip led to a serial starring Buster Crabbe and multiple movies and television series. The 1980 film got some hero worship by Seth MacFarlane’s live action/animation hybrid Ted. After Bohemian Rhapsody, is there any reason not to bring back the music?
Waititi is repped by CAA, Halsted Manage-ment and Gail Cowan Management.
For those with a sense of ’80s nostalgia, here’s the trailer for the last Flash attempt:
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