Just when you thought that the Sony Pictures email hack story was in the rearview mirror, it pops back up. Yesterday, WikiLeaks published online 30,287 documents and 173,132 emails that were originally obtained by hackers at the end of last year. And once again news organizations are starting to dig through them looking for more stories. And the London Telegraph found one, specifically that in January of last year there was significant interest at the studio in bringing British television science-fiction hero Doctor Who to the big screen.
Emails traded between Sony’s president of International Production Andrea Wong and Sony Pictures chairman and chief executive Michael Lynton show that the studio and the BBC (through the broadcaster’s BBC Worldwide arm) were interested in getting a Doctor Who movie into production as soon as possible, perhaps to capitalize on the excitement generated by the show’s 50th anniversary which had just passed. But it seems as if they were getting some extreme pushback on the idea from the show’s production team, headed by Steven Moffat.
Wong wrote –
[T]he show runners feel very clear that they don’t want to do one at this moment.
That said, over the course of the coming months, the show running team is coming up with an 8 year timeline for the brand – laying out all that will happen with it.
[Danny Cohen, Director of BBC Television] says that a film will certainly be a part of that timeline. So the answer is that a film won’t happen in the next year to 18 months, but it is expected that it will happen after that within the 8 year horizon. He expects the plan to be laid out by the end of the year…
Lynton replied that it sounded as if a meeting with the show runners might persuade them. Wong nixed that idea.
Spoke to Danny and he doesn’t think it makes sense right now and actually might hurt our cause. He said that the creative team on the show have been having the movie conversation with BBC Worldwide in recent weeks and are very hot under the collar that their position on it is not being listened to or accepted
There’s not much more to the exchange and it appears as if there are no other emails mentioning the project. However, it does support the rumors that have been floating for the last several years that the BBC has indeed been looking to get a Doctor Who movie made. Rumors of a Doctor Who movie have circulated on and off for a good part of the franchise’s five decade history. The most recent round started in 2009 and was receiving confirmations and denials up through 2011. At one point series director Euros Lyn was being mooted as director.
One thing should be noted, though, and that as of recently as earlier this month with EW, Moffat restated his reluctance to a film adventure of the Time Lord for both story and legal reasons.
How do we do this? How do we do it without leaching from the television series—which we’re not allowed to do, because ‘Doctor Who’ is public funded? If it’s going to be a different Doctor, are we going to try and sell two Doctors at the same time? I know there’s been loads of Doctors, but there’s only been one at a time. You don’t have a James Bond on television and one in the cinema. If he’s the same guy, then when are we going to make that?
We’re talking one of the biggest TV shows in the world. It can’t just be a medium-size movie—it’s got to be a colossal movie. I’ve sat with people, saying — and in the end it’s not my decision or my choice, I don’t own Doctor Who — ‘Okay, explain to me how it’s going to work.’ And nobody has an answer.
The public funding that Moffat refers to is the financing model that the BBC uses for the production of its shows. The broadcaster gets its budget strictly from a licence fee charged to all television owners in the United Kingdom. BBC Worldwide is the commercial arm of the BBC and there are certain restrictions to what commercial activities it can engage in and these restrictions will prove a real impediment to any Hollywood deal.