While Godzilla vs. Kong isn't set to make its domestic debut until this Wednesday, director Adam Wingard has been busy making some massive follow-up plans. Back in mid-February it was reported that he had signed on to make a sequel to John Woo's Face/Off, one that is apparently looking to bring back Nicolas Cage and Jon Travolta – and while you'd think developing that project would be enough to handle for the filmmaker, he is expanding his upcoming slate by also working on a big screen Thundercats movie.
Deadline has broken the news of Adam Wingard's involvement with extensive quotes from the filmmaker expressing his incredible love for the original animated series – which first premiered in 1985 and ran for 130 episodes across four seasons. Apparently when the director was a sophomore in high school his obsession actually had a devastating impact on his grade point average, as he spent all of his time ignoring his studies and instead hand-writing his own epic Thundercats blockbuster. Said Wingard,
My real obsession with ThunderCats came in high school, the pinnacle of me deciding I wanted to be a filmmaker, and pushing in that direction…I actually spent most of my 10th grade year, I completely blew it. I didn’t pay attention in school, made terrible grades. And the reason? I was writing my ThunderCats screenplay through my entire tenth grade year. And I was hand writing it. The screenplay itself ended up being 272 pages long. I still have it. It was one of those things where I would carry around my notebooks and talk about it. I didn’t even realize the kids in my class were making fun of me as they would ask me questions about my ThunderCats screenplay.
For those who don't know, the general rule in screenwriting is that one page equals about a minute of screen time, so what teenage Adam Wingard put together was a version of Thundercats that was four-and-a-half hours long. This won't be the movie that he is now developing (perhaps he can at the very least port over some details?), but the passion for the material is still very much a part of his life.
As he explained, he was riding on a high after finishing work on Godzilla vs. Kong (a movie he says the studio "loves"), and it was at that time that he learned a big screen version of Thundercats was being developed by people with whom he previously worked. Wingard decided to take a shot at landing the gig, and they have given him the opportunity. He said,
I heard there was a ThunderCats script out there and it happened to be set up with some of my producers on Death Note. I asked them, I want to rewrite this script with my friend Simon Barrett. This is a huge passion thing for me. Nobody on this planet knows or has thought as much about ThunderCats as I have. They gave me the reins. I saw this as an opportunity to do a new type of fantasy sci-fi spectacle film that people have never seen before. It’s got a rich mythology; the characters are fantastic. The colors.
Obviously one of the biggest challenges for the film is going to be translating what was originally 2D, hand-drawn animation into modern style, and Adam Wingard has some ambitious plans to get that done. He doesn't want to make a live-action Thundercats movie (respectfully citing Tom Hooper's Cats as a worst case scenario), but instead wants to make a kind of hybrid that we've never seen before. Said Wingard,
I want to do a ThunderCats film that takes you back to that ‘80s aesthetic. I don’t want to reinvent the way they look; I want them to look like ThunderCats. I don’t want to do it live action, either. I don’t want it to look like Cats, I don’t want those kinds of issues — no disrespect to that director, whom I don’t mean to throw under the bus any more than everyone else has. I want to do a movie you’ve never seen before. A hybrid CGI film that has a hyper real look and somehow bridges the gap between cartoon and CGI. That’s the starting point, and Simon Barrett and I are getting into the script now.
What's unfortunately not clear is how Adam Wingard is developing this project alongside his Face/Off 2, but that's information that will come in time (it's probably more likely that the latter comes first, if not because it is the movie that will have a much shorter total production schedule). It may be a minute before we get more updates about the Thundercats movie, but the director's excitement surely gets us excited for his vision.
Godzilla vs. Kong arrives in theaters this Wednesday, March 31, in theaters and on HBO Max.