Jonathan Nolan And J.J. Abrams Set To Remake WESTWORLD For HBO

Jonathan Nolan And J.J. Abrams Set To Remake WESTWORLD For HBO

HBO has given a pilot production commitment to Bad Robot and Warner Bros. TV for a series adaptation of the 1973 Yul Brynner cult classic “Westworld,” to be written and helmed by Jonathan Nolan.

Nolan and TV scribe Lisa Joy, who are married, are set to co-write the pilot script, with Nolan set to direct the pilot. Nolan and Joy will serve as exec producers with Bad Robot’s J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk and Jerry Weintraub. The original pic was written and directed by Michael Crichton.

The HBO rendition of “Westworld” is described as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.” The pilot production commitment is a big one by HBO’s standards, indicated the depth of the pay cabler’s interest in the project.

Weintraub has been trying to get a feature remake of “Westworld” off the ground for years — Arnold Schwarzenegger was attached at one point but had to bow out after he became governor of California in 2003. Weintraub has been busy at HBO in recent years, most recently fielding the successful Liberace telepic “Behind the Candelabra.”

Original “Westworld” also starred Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as vacationers at an adult-themed amusement park who are tormented by a robot modeled as a Western gunslinger, played by Brynner. A sequel with Brynner, Blythe Danner and Peter Fonda was released in 1976, while CBS tried a small screen spin on the concept, “Beyond Westworld,” that lasted three airings in March 1980.

Much like ’70s cult-sci-fi favorite Logan’s Run, launching a Westworld remake has faced years of obstacles. Names like Mirror Mirror director Tarsem Singh, Quentin Tarantino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Russell Crowe have all been attached at one point, with producer Jerry Weintraub now looking to TV as his best bet to get this long-gestating project off the ground.

This project marks the next series collaboration between Nolan and Bad Robot, who are entering season 3 of CBS’s hit series Person of Interest. HBO’s pilot commitment denotes their faith in Westworld, which was followed up by a movie sequel, Futureworld and a short-lived TV series, Beyond Westworld.

Bad Robot’s Kathy Lingg is on board “Westworld” as a co-exec producer; Athena Wickham will produce.

Westworld has a much lower profile than J.J. Abrams’ other two famous sci-fi properties (his rebooted Star Trek franchise and a little film called Star Wars: Episode VII), but it’s another chance to put some kind of fingerprint on a property which still somehow resonates throughout geek culture, even if its been on the margins for decades. The original film has its campy (yet weirdly sinister) pleasures, but expect Jonathan Nolan to put a grounded, somewhat realistic spin on the premise.
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