Scripter J. Michael Straczysnki and the higher-ups at Warner Brothers have decided to trash the writer’s first pass at drafting a follow-up/sequel/ to the classic Forbidden Planet and start over from scratch. The do-over is not due to a question of quality in the writing, but due to the fact that details of the storyline had already started to leak, even though actual production on the project has yet to be greenlit.
As Straczynski stated last week in a post on the moderated news for Babylon 5, the ground-breaking television series he created-
Meanwhile, on a wholly different note…not of triumph but of annoyance….because so much of the Forbidden Planet screenplay was leaked out, Warners and I have decided to chuck the screenplay in its entirety and start over. This is the direct result of the leaks that showed up on the nets, including detailed script reviews of a project that was barely a week old, and which would effectively destroy any anticipation of the movie because by the time it finally reached the screen in 2010 or thereabouts, the story would be old news. So we’re starting fresh, and we’re going to keep a tight lid on the script this time.
So to the sites that say, “Where’s the harm, it’s not like they’re gonna toss out the script because we blew the contents of same all over the nets,” well, yes, that’s exactly what it’s like, and it’s precisely your responsibility that a year’s worth of work was destroyed.
So we start anew, with the determined hope that the next draft will be even better, and far more secure, than the last one.
While a fan of JMS’ since Babylon 5 first premiered more than 15 years ago, I think this is a bit of an overreaction on everyone’s part.
Script reviews and spoiler leaks are a fact of life in the online journalism world. High profile film projects are going to attract attention, and a film like Warners’ Forbidden Planet project definitely falls into that category. And let’s not forget the fact that JMS himself stoked curiosities when he stated that the film will be “something no one has thought of when it comes to this storyline.”
Other films have moved forward even when their scripts have been discussed online. Heck, a rave review of Will Farrell and Adam McKay’s Anchorman script from Drew McWeeny on AintItCoolNews got it unstuck from development hell and in front of the cameras. Of course, McWeeny also famously panned J. J. Abrams’ Superman script, stirring up so much fan bile that Warners junked the thing and started over. McWeeny even posted a rave review of JMS’ adaptation of World War Z, with no peep or protest made.
But is it right or wrong to run stories that spill script details at such early stages? I really don’t know. I’ve felt good about running the script reviews that have appeared here for various reasons. I have two more such pieces lined up for next week. But then again, there are a few scripts that I have read that I have refrained from reviewing.
I don’t believe that JMS is rewriting because he wasn’t happy with the original results. Over the years, he has impressed me as someone who would flat out state that he was unhappy with how something turned out and that he was going to take another crack at it. I don’t begrudge him wanting to take a second pass through the script. But to say that a do-over was necessary because a couple thousand out of a potential few million ticket buyers heard about some of the film’s plot points a year or two before the film hits seems like a bit of a stretch to me.