To steal a phrase from the Tenth Doctor...
Sources are reporting that a big screen version of Doctor Who, written by former showrunner Russell T. Davies, is slated for release in 2012. Those same sources are also reporting that Johnny Depp has been confirmed in the iconic role of The Doctor.
The rumor of an American movie adaptation of the classic British sci-fi series was originally raised when Russell T. Davies and show producer Julie Gardner announced their departure from the BBC revival of the show for Los Angeles in 2008 in order to develop projects for BBC America. Though both were mum on the idea of adapting Doctor Who for American audiences, it was eventually revealed that Torchwood was undergoing that very process. The idea of a Torchwood television series was originally pitched to Fox before eventually landing at Starz. (Fox Television itself is no stranger to Doctor Who, having been the distributor behind an attempted American revival of the show in 1996.)
Earlier this week, the news of Johnny Depp starring in Doctor Who appeared on article mill PubArticles (Update: Looks like the article was moved here then later removed from the site. What follows is a quote from that piece):
Long-time producer of the television series Russell T. Davies reported that the reason he moved on from the show was due to the opportunity to transform the Doctor to the big screen. “Bringing the Who franchise to the theaters is a regeneration for the character beyond the usual one. A theatrical release has a greater range and can reach millions of more people than just the fans. There will be brand new concepts and the film will be just as adventurous, scary and humorous as the television programme. But none of us working the film will forget what makes the character great and interesting and the long-time fans will not be disappointed because yes, the Daleks make an appearance.”
The article goes on to say that the story will involve the Doctor going “on a journey through time and space with a crew of volunteers treating humanity’s illnesses brought on by invading aliens. He cures the bubonic plague and then goes to Africa to fight Ebola.”
The grain-of-salt quotient on this idea is MASSIVE, but it’s not like Russell T. Davies hasn’t introduced huge, odd-sounding concepts to Doctor Who before. He’s also admitted in his book The Writer’s Tale to routinely lying to press about story elements.
So it was with even greater surprise that movie studio sources confirmed with Tor.com today that, while it can’t comment on possible story elements, the casting of Johnny Depp as the Doctor for a 2012 film is confirmed.
If this bears out to be true, it introduces an enormous amount of excitement and uncertainty to the franchise. A movie version could make the Doctor a household name here in America but alienate old fans in the process. And what of Johnny Depp’s involvement? It is, obviously, too soon to decide on how any of this will play out. If it plays out.
I personally know one thing for sure: I certainly won’t mind seeing the TARDIS plastered on billboards all around the country.
Chris Greenland may or may not have gotten all of his friends Weeping Angel toys for Christmas.