H.G. Wells' novel The Island of Doctor Moreau is a classic piece of science fiction literature, but the 1996 film adaptation is the exact opposite of a masterpiece. Troubled by a difficult production, the movie starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer was met with disdain by critics, moviegoers and some of the actors, and it only grossed over $49 million worldwide off a $40 million budget. More than 20 years after The Island of Dr. Moreau's release, a remake is now in the works, and there's already a director lined up: Richard Stanley, the man who was supposed to helm the 1996 movie, but was fired only three days into the shoot.
A deal hasn't been finalized yet, but if all goes according to plan, then Richard Stanley will have a second chance at bringing The Island of Doctor Moreau to the big screen. Stanley had spent years working on the previous theatrical adaptation, but less than a week into that movie's shoot, he was tossed out (there are conflicting reasons why) and replaced with John Frankenheimer. That was just one of the many problems that plagued principal photography, and Stanley's vision for the project was later closely explored in the 2014 documentary Lost Soul from director David Gregory. The documentary appears to have triggered interest in seeing what Stanley can do with H.G. Wells' creation without dealing with behind-the-scenes drama. Stanley told Birth.Movies.Death.:
At this stage, I can't say exactly by who, and how long it will take, but the project does live again, largely thanks to David [Gregory]. We're currently scripting and designing the thing. It's going to be an all-new screenplay and an all-new cast of beast-people; the original creatures are copyrighted by Warner Bros. [parent company of New Line, which produced and released the '96 film]. I wasn't particularly happy with them anyway. The final designs of the creatures in the Frankenheimer version were disappointing, and I think there's huge room for improvement.
Although Richard Stanley hasn't directed a feature film on his own since being fired from 1996's The Island of Dr. Moreau, he's still kept busy with directing and writing work through a number of short films and documentaries. As for what to expect from his "definitive" take on The Island of Doctor Moreau, Stanley wouldn't go into specifics besides saying that the creatures will be the star of the movie rather than the humans. Stanley's also not sure if this remake will also be a big screen release or if it will end up on television, although he's leaning towards the latter because it would mean less studio interference and it would be easier to push out an "R-level product." As for those who are skeptical on whether or not Stanley can deliver the goods, especially given how big of a disaster the last adaptation was, he responded:
...I'm ready for it, and I'm praying that this time around, it will come out right, and a definitive Moreau can finally reach the screen. Of course, that will come down to a huge amount of insanely hard work, and I'm thoroughly aware of the odds, and the fact that it has kind of ruined multiple careers by now...I now realize that I'm part of a history that will probably never be over, and that what I thought was the end for me was simply the conclusion of the first chapter.
It's been a while since moviegoers were treated to a cinematic adaptation of an H.G. Wells story, so this new version of The Island of Doctor Moreau has the potential to be something special. Rest assured, whenever this remake takes the next step forward to becoming a reality, we'll be sure to let you know.