By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist November 17, 2011 at 9:22AM
It's hard not to lament the career that Bryan Singer might have had. When he broke out with the arrival of "The Usual Suspects," one of the most textured and well-achieved of the post-"Pulp Fiction" wave of crime flicks, it seemed like the annoucement of a major talent, and the underrated "Apt Pupil" only seemed to re-emphasize that. But ever since, the filmmaker has strayed further and further into the blockbuster world, and it has become clear that his ambitions lie more in becoming the next Richard Donner than a great auteur. The last fifteen years have seen two "X-Men" movies -- the second admittedly being by some distance the best in the franchise -- one "Superman" film and one big-budget Tom Cruise war film.
None has been dreadful, but none particularly inspired either, and we're not sure that next year's fairy tale adventure "Jack the Giant Killler" is likely to turn things around. With that film heading towards the finish line, the director is starting to look towards his next project, and it seems he's been watching a lot of 1970s science-fiction TV recently. His long-mooted film version of "Battlestar Galactica" is finally moving forward, recently recruiting "Anonymous" writer
The Earl of Oxford John Orloff to write the script, and according to Latino Review, Singer may have his eyes on another seminal work from the same era.
The site reports that Universal and The Weinstein Brothers are teaming up to adapt "The Six Million Dollar Man," the TV series that followed Steve Austin (Lee Majors) as a test pilot who suffers a horrific accident, only to be rebuilt (we have the technology!) into a part-man, part-machine, government secret agent. The new version, again based on the Martin Caidin novel "Cyborg," will be entitled "The Six Billion Dollar Man," and Singer is apparently attached to direct. Latino Review also says that the writers of "Jack the Giant Killer" are likely to pen a new screenplay, but with four separate writers listed on that film, it's not clear who among Christopher McQuarrie, Darren Lemke, Dan Studney and Mark Bomback they mean.
Furthermore, the film may have already found its lead. The site also reports that Leonardo DiCaprio is being courted by both Singer and Harvey Weinstein to take up the lead role of Steve Austin. The actor doesn't have anything solid lined up after "Django Unchained," but it would be an out-of-character move for him to take the film. Since blowing up with "Titanic," he's favored working on serious projects with auteur types like Martin Scorsese, Baz Luhrmann, Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan, and we're not sure if Singer qualifies in that category anymore, even without a silly franchise property as the potential project. But maybe Singer has a take that will intrigue the star.
It's worth noting firstly, that this is all still in the rumor stage at this point, although Latino Review do have a pretty good track record in this department. But secondly, there's a long history of trying to make a "Six Million Dollar Man" movie. The Weinsteins have held the rights for eleven years, and a number of names, normally comedically-inclined, have come and gone on the project, including The Farrelly Brothers, Kevin Smith (who released a comic book, "The Bionic Man," based on his unmade script this year), and Todd Phillips, who came close to making a version with Jim Carrey in the lead. This sounds like a more serious take on the material, although an unofficial parody, "The $40,000 Man," from "Horrible Bosses" writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, is still in development over at New Line. Whether Singer has any more luck than his predecessors remains to be seen...