By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com November 14, 2011 at 2:45PM
You might only be barely aware of his existence, but mathematically speaking, David Yates is the most successful film director in history. Sure, James Cameron might have made more successful films, but Yates has consistency on his side; his last four films have grossed a grand total of $1.032 billion. Of course, those four films are the final four in the gigantic "Harry Potter" franchise, but still, that's not a bad way to start your career (and to be fair, Yates has a string of tiny-grossing Britflicks in his past that bring the total average down).
Now that J.K. Rowling's franchise is done, there's been much speculation as to what the director could end up doing next; he turned down the Stephen King adaptation "The Stand," was linked to an adaptationof fairy tale comic book "Fables," and is developing the gangster flick "Cicero," with Tom Hardy set to star as legendary gangster Al Capone. But it looks like he's also planning to continue a certain theme in his career, with the shock news this afternoon that Yates is going to take on another massive British science-fiction fantasy franchise.
Variety reports that Yates is starting work on a big-screen version of long-running TV favorite "Doctor Who," which of course, revolves around a benevolent alien time-traveler who journeys, and mostly saves, the universe, in a ship disguised as a blue British police box, and named the TARDIS.
Amazingly, the show's been running since 1963, with eleven actors to date portraying the Doctor in the official canon (the character can regenerate, changing apperance and even personality when he dies). Other than a much-derided 1995 TV movie made in conjunction with Fox, the show was absent from screens for fifteen years or so, but was revived in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston taking the part, and "Queer as Folk" writer Russell T. Davies shepherding the show, and it's been a consistently massive hit in the U.K. ever since, as well as earning an ever-growing audience on BBC America.
Eccleston gave way for David Tennant, who in turn gave way to current incarnation Matt Smith, with "The Adventures of Tintin" writer Steven Moffat serving as showrunner, but Yates says that he'll be ploughing his own furrow, and breaking from the show's continuity. He tells the trade that "Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat have done their own transformations, which were fantastic, but we have to put that aside and start from scratch."
The director also seems to get the appeal of the character, saying that "The notion of the time-travelling Time Lord is such a strong one, because you can express story and drama in any dimension or time" -- which is, after all, the reason that the show's been running for so long. We wouldn't expect this to be the director's next film, however; Yates says they're currently looking for writers, and intends to spend two or three years to get the script right, saying "It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena."
This isn't the first time the Doctor's tried to head to the big screen; two films, "Doctor Who and the Daleks" and "Doctor Who: Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 AD" were made, starring Peter Cushing, in the 1960s, while the BBC have been trying to adapt the project for some time now; we know for a fact that two years ago, Davies was in L.A. trying to write a big-screen version, which apparently didn't go anywhere. Still, exciting news -- as far as we're concerned, Yates is as good a choice for the project as anyone, and clearly has the cache to get the film made. Look for "Doctor Who" in theaters likely around 2014 or 2015.