Summit Transforms Twilight Zone into Countdown

March 25, 2008
Source: Hollywood Reporter

Twilight Zone - Deathship

When you pair space adventure and creepy happenings, you definitely get my attention. So when Summit Entertainment announced yesterday that they're moving on an upcoming film called Countdown, my ears definitely perked up. You see, the film is based on the 1963 Twilight Zone episode "Deathship". In the episode, astronauts land on an unknown planet and discover a downed spaceship that appears to hold their own corpses. How eerie and mysterious.

This project will mark writer-turned-director Michael Brandt's directorial debut. The scribe has been involved with such projects as 3:10 to Yuma, 2 Fast 2 Furious and the upcoming Wanted, Spy Hunter and The A-Team. Not bad. I really have no idea of the guy's directing aptitude, but apparently Summit was sold - "he fits with the outfit's larger interest in supporting new talent."

I'm equally foggy on the exact direction of the plot. The original was more of an astrophysics puzzle than forthright space adventure. As most would expect, the latter will probably sell better nowadays. What would be great is to see the story render more along the lines of Event Horizon - I LOVED that 1997 film - or even Sunshine. Each has respectable doses of sci-fi, but they're heavy on the scares, too. Those readily come to mind being that they also deal, in part, with the whole concept of time/dimension travel and the convolutions therein. Just as long as the film stays far away from anything Mars-ish related (e.g. Ghost of Mars, Red Planet, etc) and instead tries to take Countdown to a darker place will make me happy.

I'm not sure I'll get my wish, however. Brandt recently said, "Countdown is fantastic because it wraps the themes of fate and predestination in a movie that is really a giant puzzle (that will also) be fun for the audience to piece together." This sounds more like the bombed (box office-wise) Solaris to me.

Screenwriter Derek Haas will be helping Brandt on the script. The two worked together on many of the previously mentioned Brandt projects. A seasoned pair, sure, but do they have what it takes to craft a space tail worthy of the original? And does this storyline lend itself to a dark place like I've imagine? Or am I just too much of a horror nut?

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Sounds interesting.

Heckle on Mar 25, 2008


Yes, it does sound interesting. I wonder if this will become a new trend in Hollywood.... mining shows like The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents for ideas for new feature films. I've often thought that some of these old stories could be good if they were expanded on a bit further than a half-an-hour television show may allow. I guess we'll wait and see.

Jedi on Mar 25, 2008


well Kevin, at least they are going to remake some GOOD material for a change....I like your idea of staying with the original story but making it go to a darker place....most (but not all) Twilight Zone stuff was made for that...keep us posted on this one....

cornholio_by_the_sea on Mar 25, 2008


Wasn't there some story going around a couple of years ago about an old "Outer Limits" episode getting the film treatment? "Demon with a Glass Hand"? I don't remember that particular one, but it sounded very cool. Robert Culp was in the original. Anyway, I'm intrigued by that old "Twilight Zone" ep being turned into a film. I think they could do that with a lot of them. Update them. I hope it's dark, too. And I'm with you on "Event Horizon." That movie freaked me the hell out. I will watch it anytime I see it come on tv b/c it still disturbs me. The whole idea of what death is, black holes, space, etc.

Movie Lover on Mar 26, 2008


Hmmmm. Redoing anything that Rod Serling did is risky. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill. They never needed "monsters" or special effects for the twilight zone. It was more in your own head, left up to you to fil in the blanks with your own fears and thoughts. They made you think, not just sit and have it handed to you, kinda like old time radio.

Jennifer on Mar 26, 2008


It's actually a fairly one-note story. Sort of Groundhog Day meets Forbidden Planet. Actually that sounds cooler than the original story was. Once you realize they have found themselves crash landed there's not much more to it... But I'm sure they can tack on a silly love story and a lot more explosions and hope it sticks.

Stan Wingson on Jul 26, 2008

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