This week: John Christopher’s The Tripods . . .

TITLE: The Tripods

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: Humanity has been conquered and enslaved by “The Tripods”, alien entities traveling about in gigantic three-legged walking machines.

Humans are controlled from the age of 14 by implants called “caps”, which suppress curiosity and creativity and leave the recipient placid and docile, worshiping the tripods.

A boy by the name of Will Parker learns of free men living far away, who somehow managed to escape the alien mind control.

Joined by Henry, and later Beanpole, the young boy ventures into unfamiliar territory to find the White Mountains, where the free people are rumored to live.

SOURCE: The Tripods is a series of young adult novels written by John Christopher, beginning in 1967. The first two were the basis of a science fiction TV-series, produced in the United Kingdom in the 1980s.

WHO’S INVOLVED? Director Alex Proyas (Dark City, I Robot) and screenwriter Stuart Hazeldine (Riverworld, Battle Chasers).

LAST WE HEARD: in 2009 several websites reported that Australian filmmaker Alex Proyas was linked to a possible adaptation at Disney with Stuart Hazeldine taking over scriptwriting duties. But in summer 2010, Hazeltine told that the fantastic voyage had come to grinding halt:

“We’re trying to find a studio home for that. We developed that at Paramount and it was put into turnaround. It was originally developed at Disney through many different writers and many different directors. I’d been offered it twice when it was based at Disney, but both times I just couldn’t do it. I’d always really wanted to do it because I adored Tripods as a kid.

I read all of the books, watched the BBC show, and I loved it. I used to go sit on the North Downs in Surrey and look out across the English countryside and imagine Tripods walking across the horizon, you know? For me, that was just as interesting as War of the Worlds and War of the Worlds was set right around where I grew up. I think that whole ‘Alien Tripods in England’ vibe always rubbed off on me and Tripods is a more modern version of that.

It turned out that Alex Proyas, who I worked with a few times, also loved the Tripods books when he was a kid, so we both kind of bonded over that and decided to do it.

It was set up at Paramount, but then the leadership has been changing there every five days and the latest leadership decided to put it into turnaround, but Don Murphy is nothing if not a tenacious producer and he will never let it rest.

Alex and I have put our trust in Murphy that he can find a studio that wants to pick it up and get it made again. We’ve been close a couple of times in the last few months, but we’re still trying to find a studio to do it.”

WHY IT’D BE GREAT: it’s a young adult novel telling the story of a Fellowship (pretty much “of the Rings”) in a post-War of the Worlds scenario, so it should be an easy sell – at least for the first part of a planned trilogy. Beyond that The Tripods still enjoy a strong following, back from the days, when the BBC adaption of the first two books aired on British and European tellies, though the third installment never made it.

THE PROBLEM: The script is in constant turnaround, in search of a big budget studio, willing to make the journey to the White Mountains.

But a movie trilogy is a big financial risk and even more expensive if not filmed in one go like Lord of the Rings, which is by far the bigger household name.

CHANCES OF GETTING MADE: Uncertain, but the Tripods would love to put a cap on it.


NEXT WEEK: Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination


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Category: Features, Movies

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