Noted science-fiction author Harlan Ellison has granted an option to writer/producer J. Michael Straczynski for his classic short story “‘Reapent, Harlequin!’ Said The Ticktock Man” based on a screenplay that Straczynski developed on spec.
Of course, the fact that Straczynski and Ellison have been longtime friends, with Ellison previously serving as Creative Consultant on Strczynski’s groundbreaking Babylon 5 television series in the 1990s.
Deadline is reporting that although the project is originating under Straczynski’s JMS Studios production shingle, he is going out to look for production partners and a director for the film, with Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro heading the list of people whom he will approach.
Ellison’s story, written in a six hour stretch at a 1965 writer’s conference, tells the story of a dystopian future society where being late is illegal, and the proportional amount of time that is wasted by a person is deducted from their life. It won the 1966 Hugo Award and the 1965 Nebula Award.
Straczynski first announced the project back in 2011, but the project may have hit a bump when the similarly-themed In Time premiered and bombed at the box office. Ellison initially filed a lawsuit against that film’s producers but later withdrew the suit.
Although Ellison has written for film and television in the 1960s and has had various of his short stories adapted for various television series such as the 1980s revival of The Twilight Zone and the 1990s revival of The Outer Limits, this will be only the second time that one of his stories have been adapted for the big screen. Previously, his post-apocalypse novella A Boy And His Dog was adapted by director L.Q. Jones in 1975.