Universal Studios is starting another attempt to bring their science-fiction television franchise Battlestar Galactica to the big screen. They are kicking off this try by hiring Transcendence screenwriter Jack Paglen to tackle the script duties, while original series creator Glen Larson is signed on to produce.
This is the second recent big franchise hire for Pagen just two weeks ago he was hired to pen Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel/Prometheus sequel Prometheus 2.
Galactica was initially launched in 1978 as a television series on ABC. Although it earned respectable ratings, the show’s expensive budget led the network to pull the plug after just one season. But the show’s fandom lived on and in 2003, the Sci Fi Channel aired a miniseries reimagining of the tale of a lone group of survivors of a genocidal attack fleeing from the tyranny of a cybernetic race known as Cylons. The mini-series, from writer/producer Ron Moore, proved popular enough to propel a new series for four seasons, which received critical raves.
A few years back, Universal and director Bryan Singer were working on a new iteration of Galactica, having hired writer John Orloff who had previously written Anonymous, the Shakespeare conspiracy film, and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, to pen the screenplay. Oddly enough, this was not Singer’s first attempt at realizing a Battlestar Galactica project. Back in 2000, Singer and his producing partner Tom DeSanto were working to launch a television series that would serve as a sequel to the original show for the FOX Network. The production was to the point where set and prop construction was underway (See the visual effects test reel footage below) when the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 happened. Work on the project was delayed a month, forcing Singer to drop out as director of the two-hour pilot film due to his commitment to helm X2: X-Men United. Without Singer in the director’s chair, Fox grew less enthusiastic and passed on the project. Sci-Fi would step up to commission writer-producer Ron Moore to deliver the series that eventually aired.
It should be interesting to watch how this project develops. The Moore series, with its post-9/11 allegorical slant, was definitely a case of capturing lightening in a bottle twice and I have to wonder if it is possible to do a third iteration that will be as successful.