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Duncan Jones Says Sci-Fi Project 'Mute' Is "In Limbo," 'Blade Runner' Homage Next

by Edward Davis
January 17, 2011 9:51 AM
2 Comments
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"Moon" Director Says Long-Gestating Sci-Fi Mystery Is Being Shelved For Now, Instead Will Come A "Future City" Film



Last we checked in with Duncan Jones, life was good. His sophomore effort “Source Code,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright had been announced as the opening night film of the 2011 SXSW Film Festival and the world seemed to be his oyster. The director, who landed loudly on the cinematic map with his haunting and modest sci-fi debut, "Moon," looked to have two projects brewing as a follow-up to "Source Code," which hits theaters later this year on April 15th. One was called a completely unknown project and one was "Mute," a "Blade Runner"-esque sci-fi mystery about a mute bartender who goes up against his futuristic city's gangsters in an effort to find out what happened to his missing girlfriend.

Then there were a few hiccups. Composer Clint Mansell, who was one of the major guiding lights towards the cinematic success of "Moon," had to drop out of scoring "Source Code" because of a scheduling conflict. Now it appears there's a second piece of unfortunate news. Jones' "Mute," a project he's been developing for several years now with little assistance in terms of financing, is being shelved once more.

Jones even notes what we have also pointed out in the past: one of the early drafts of "Mute" that leaked on the Internet wasn't necessarily earth shattering work, and either way it sounds like the project is in a bit of a purgatory state.


Well it’s in a bit of a limbo actually. I’ve always loved the script and felt it was a film worth making, but it’s a tricky one. It’s a sci-fi film, and one of the drafts of the scripts got leaked a while back. The reaction was mixed. Most people didn’t get the fact that yes it is sci-fi but it’s a futurist film. It’s a thriller that happens to take place in the future, it’s not some amazing piece of technology that ya know the world is depending upon and the whole story revolves around some particular piece of technology or some sci-fi hook.

That was the whole idea, to tell a film that can be based in any period, but just HAPPENS to take place in the future. And it’s been very difficult to basically pitch that in a way where people understand why it needs to be done that way. People just say, why can’t it be in a contemporary setting? But no, it’s about mood and atmosphere as much as anything else. It’s also quite dark so it’s been a tough sell. Also, it’s not a big film, it has been designed to be sort of a smaller and more independent film. Budget wise, it’s in between 'Moon' and 'Source Code.'

I just need to get away from it for a while. I’ll come back to it one day and hopefully it’ll work the way I see it working. In the meantime, I have another project that I’m very excited about. It will address what people expect from sci-fi films but still does what I want it to do, and still has the heart and energy that I’d wanna see in a sci-fi film.

We would never presume to think what we would say online would matter in such a case, but hey, give the guy another shot at writing another draft, will you? But as he said, it's a tough sell. A mute protagonist throughout an entire film? Even if he bagged Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead: do modern audiences want to watch a film where the lead character can't say a word and more importantly, what kind of studio is willing to take that gamble? Ok, so anyhow, it sounds like Jones is putting it on the shelf under his own accord for now. So what is next? Well, Jones hinted at something new in December, but this is the first time that he's revealed any details on what we'll now refer to as "Future City," and yes, since "Mute" had been described as "Blade Runner"-esque when it was first announced we can assume the filmmaker is more than a little bit obsessed with the 1982, Ridley Scott-made, sci-fi classic.

“One thing I can tell you about my next project is that I’m determined to do a future city film," he said. "I want it to be my homage to 'Blade Runner,' even if it’s a bit bigger, it will be a city based future film.” There you have it. Let's hope he has better luck with this one and hell, if "Mute" is so hard to mount, why not just cannibalize all the mood/tone atmosphere ideas and roll them into this one -- if it's as you say -- just "happens" to take place in the future. [We Got This Covered]

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More: Films, Duncan Jones, Source Code, Mute

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2 Comments

  • BradZuhl | January 19, 2011 7:39 AMReply

    I know everyone draws inspiration and ideas from everyone else but to flat-out state you're doing a Blade Runner homage is just weird. How about coming up with your own cool, original take on the future instead of paying homage to Ridley Scott's vision, dude?

  • Martin | January 18, 2011 4:19 AMReply

    A mute protagonist throughout an entire film?

    Well, you guys were really big on Valhalla Rising, so sure, it can be done.

    I just want to see more intelligent science fiction films that aren't based on motherfucking comic books and toys.

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