This week: The Tourist, featuring designs by the one and only H.R. Giger . . .
WHAT’S IT ABOUT? Grace Ripley is an alien from another planet, one of thousands of exiled aliens living incognito on Earth, having adopted human form in order to assimilate into human society. She is on a mission, desperate to escape Earth and return to her home world. But to put this plan into reality, she must find a man called John Taiga first, who may have constructed a spacecraft that can successfully leave Earth and travel across the cosmos.
SOURCE: An original screenplay by Clair Noto from 1980.
WHO’S INVOLVED? Writer Clair Noto, designer H.R. Giger (preproduction), producer Joel Silver (rumored).
LAST We HEARD: The Tourist still seems to be trapped at Universal Studios. At one point producer Joel Silver (The Matrix, Die Hard, V for Vendetta) was rumored to be seen at the studio gates offering lots of cash for the release of The Tourist into his hands, but no such luck.
Clair Noto believes Universal won’t release the property anytime soon, in fear of looking foolish if it should become a hit for another studio:
“Every time somebody got a hold of the script they just held onto it. Warner Bros had it for seven or eight years, optioning it after they knew they weren’t going to make it. They didn’t want to have it back to Universal and have them make it into a successful picture, which would have made Warner Bros look bad.
It’s like a stupid chess game. Universal spent a shitload of money because of the Giger designs and paid for several rewrites with different writers, and I think they had more than one director on it. The Tourist has always had incredible supporters and incredible detractors.
Right from the very beginning it aroused very strong feelings one way or another. People were either very taken by it or felt it was the Antichrist. I still don’t, to this day, really comprehend what all the fuss was about. I think The Tourist is an interesting story, but I don’t see the degree to which people have responded to it.”
WHY IT’D BE GREAT: The Tourist is a unique and original work that owes a lot to European new wave cinema. It’s (explicitly) sexy, strange, and provocative, with more sense of style than structure. It could have been one of the cult features of the ‘Eighties, somewhere in-between Blade Runner, The Hunger and (far better than) Liquid Sky.
THE PROBLEM: The originality and atypical structure of the script is also its greatest weakness when it comes to Hollywood. After being torn apart almost 20 years in development hell, the final blow was struck by Men in Black in 1997 with its comedy take on aliens exiled on earth.
Still, it would be great if Clair Noto (originally a comic book writer) could finally free The Tourist and publish her original story as a graphic novel including Giger’s amazing artwork. (See: http://www.hrgiger.com/tourist.htm)
CHANCES OF GETTING MADE: Almost zero, The Tourist stays grounded.