The Last Starfighter is awesome. A total flop on its release in 1984, it’s one of those movies that found a new life on home video and over the years has developed a rabid cult following. And in a day and age when everything is getting remade, rebooted, and sequelized, people have often wondered why not this film? There’s a reason it hasn’t happened yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t, and the original screenwriter is optimistic.
The biggest reason why the world hasn’t seen The Last Starfighter 2 yet has to do with issues surrounding the rights to the property. It’s a tangled mess, but Jonathan Beteul, who wrote the screenplay for the film all those years ago, is still optimistic. Talking to Yahoo, he said:
This gets tied up in all kinds of stuff [regarding] what the next step is, and I’m working on that right now… There are a lot of things going on that will see the light of day. It’s complicated, it’s great, it’s a privilege, and it’s going to be taken care of… It’s good to be working with a team that wants to see it go. I think that the story deserves to continue.
For those of you unfamiliar, or those of you who just need a quick brush up, The Last Starfighter centers on Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), a hopeful dreamer of a teen living in a trailer park, whiling away the hours achieving the high score on an arcade game. When he becomes the best of the best, the creator of the game, an alien, shows up and reveals that the game was designed to test potential new pilots and that the story of deep space conflict is real. He gets drafted into an intergalactic war and is, of course, the last great hope of the galaxy.
The end of the movie is obviously set up so that The Last Starfighter is just the first in a long line of continuing adventures. It certainly has the sprawling, space opera style world in place to support a franchise. But, released in the summer of 1984, which is considered by many one of the best summer movie season ever—that year saw the release of Ghostbusters, Red Dawn, Gremlins, The Karate Kid, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (almost all of which have been or will be remade or had sequels), among others—it got lost in the shuffle and was largely ignored at the time.
After that, once The Last Starfighter finally found an audience, the status of the rights confounded and bewildered any and all who ventured into the deep dark hole of trying either remake the film or make additional movies. Distributed by Universal, but produced by Lorimar, which was subsequently consumed by Warner Bros., who owns what rights where is a subject of great debate. Some say Beteul has the sequel rights, while others claim Universal and WB have co-rights to any future installments, while still others insist Universal has theatrical and home rights and WB has dibs on the international business. Told you it was a mess, and that’s just scratching the surface.
Whether or not we ever actually see The Last Starfighter 2 remains to be seen. It will obviously take a lot of work, but there are a lot of famous fans out there, like Seth Rogen, Edgar Wright, Gary Whitta, and even reportedly Steven Spielberg. But it sounds like there are people who would like to see this happen and who are working to make it so.