I'm a firm believer that we don't get nearly enough original science fiction films these days. Most of the sci-fi fare that hits theaters are entries in well-known franchises, unnecessary remakes or lackluster adaptations of beloved properties. So when news comes along that some talented people are coming together to adapt a little-known narrative art book for the big screen, it is worth sitting up and taking notice. That's exactly the story today, as Russo Brothers Studio has won a bidding war for The Electric State, and IT director Andy Muschietti is in negotiations to direct the feature film adaptation.
The Russo Brothers will produce the film for their new studio, alongside production head Mike Larocca and Barbara and Andy Muschietti. Muschietti recently proved his adeptness at feature film adaptations with his smash hit, IT, and this time he won't have nearly the baggage and fan expectation that accompanied that film. Handling the screenplay for the adaptation of The Electric State will be the frequent Russo Brothers collaborators, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The Russos and Markus and McFeely have previously worked together on the last two Captain America films, as well as the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4. The amount of talent being brought together on this movie is impressive, and according to Deadline, at least four studios as well as numerous directors and producers pursued the project before it landed at Russo Brothers Studio.
The Electric State is a narrative art book by Simon Stålenhag that was produced with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. The book follows a runaway teenager and her yellow toy robot as they travel west though a post-apocalyptic 1997 America. In this alternative reality, a sort of future past, the country is littered with the husks of gigantic battle drones and the waste of a society driven by technology and consumption. This is a very strange and interesting premise. You can get a taste for what's in store via the fantastic art featured on the Kickstarter page for the book. The images are a cool juxtaposition of the vast windswept country and the decaying ruins of a wasteful society. The whole thing evokes the aesthetic seen in the Ready Player One trailer (outside the Oasis) combined with the all-encompassing consumerism lampooned in future documentary, Idiocracy.
The fact that this adaptation was so aggressively pursued indicates that the studios all saw something in the book that they thought would really translate on screen in an exciting and special way. Just the images from the book point to a visually interesting story. Without knowing the whole arc of the narrative, the images certainly have a sense of contemplation to them, and it is clear that the author has something to say. The best science fiction astonishes the senses while giving you something to think about. Hopefully that will come through in the feature film adaptation.