There's an early scene in "Tron: Legacy" where we get a look around Sam Flynn's room. We see that the young son of computer magnate Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges) has small toys based around the computer characters in the first movie and, briefly, we get a glimpse of a poster on his wall. It's "The Black Hole," an underrated sci-fi movie that Disney released in 1979 to middling box office returns. It's a movie where Anthony Perkins is killed by robots and has held up surprisingly well (certainly way better than the original "Tron"), thanks largely to its emphasis on moody atmospherics over "cutting edge" technology. The poster's placement in "Tron: Legacy" is a nice tip-of-the-hat to Disney sci-fi history, but it's also an indication of things to come: Joseph Kosinski has been tapped by the Mouse House to do a big budget reboot of that feature, too.
We asked if that project was next on the docket, since he also has "Oblivion" on his cinematic to-do list. The film is about a soldier "stuck on the desolate Earth repairing drones that patrol and destroy a savage alien race called The Scavengers. He comes across a beautiful woman who has crashed in a craft. Together they take an epic adventure that changes his world view." It is based on a comic book written by Kosinski that was created as a way to get financiers interested (and was subsequently bought by Disney upon the book's completion).
"I don't know what's next exactly. I've got two movies in development at Disney - 'Oblivion' and 'Black Hole.' They're both being written right now. Both by really talented writers. I'll see, after the end of the year, which project is the one that we push forward on first."
We reported earlier this year that Oscar-winning scribe William Monahan (whose debut feature "London Boulevard" just opened overseas -- we weren't too keen on it) would take on screenwriting duties for "Oblivion." As for "The Black Hole," it was last reported that Travis Beacham, who made waves a few years ago when he sold a spec script to New Line Cinema called "Killing on Carnival Row" that was said to have been produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Neil Jordan. That clearly fell through, probably around the time that New Line was absorbed as a production shingle into Warner Bros. Beacham has since written this year's abominable "Clash of the Titans" remake and his buzzy original script "Pacific Rim" has drawn comparisons to "Godzilla" (including now-debunked rumors that the script would be folded into Legendary Pictures' forthcoming "Godzilla" reboot).
But does he have concepts for both films already? Kosinski used to be an architect and a huge amount of pre-production work seems to be in his blood.
" 'Oblivion' we've made a lot of headway on. I've been working on that for a few years now. And 'Black Hole' is in script stage but we have some really great ideas for it."
We were curious if he had any ideas about what he'd import from the original 'Black Hole,' in the same way that things were carried over (but wildly updated) from the original "Tron" into "Tron: Legacy?"
"Yeah, it's more of a re-imagining. It's a movie about a trip to the black hole. But I want to keep some of those iconic elements. There's a few things I want to keep -- those robots, the ship itself I think is a very memorable design, so there are certain things like that I'd want to keep in there."
We saw "Tron: Legacy" again yesterday and Kosinski's command of visuals is undeniable. It's still shocking to think that this is the filmmaker's debut feature; so many images give you that goose-bumpy thrill of watching a stylist go wild. The story... ehhh, not so much. But both "The Black Hole" and "Oblivion" seem to be giving the filmmaker more to work with, on a basic story level. As cool as people being zapped into a video game is, well, killer robots, cosmic anomalies, and moral quandaries in the far reaches of space, make for much more compelling drama, at the very least. "Tron: Legacy" opened yesterday. See it in IMAX 3D.