The long-in-the-works Battlestar Galactica film just moved forward a bit. The Hollywood Reporter says that Simon Kinberg will write and produce the film, although he isn’t expected to direct it.
Kinberg is currently working on a new film, The 355, a film about female spies (the trailer dropped a couple of weeks ago), and he’s also working on a TV series for Apple TV +, Invasion. It’s not entirely clear what the timeline is for this particular project, but it’s one that has a pretty storied and convoluted history.
The franchise got its start in 1978 with ABC and Glen Larson in the aftermath of the premiere of Star Wars. The series (pictured above) aired for only a single season, following the last survivors of humanity after robots known as Cylons attacked their home system and drove them out. Over the course of the series, the fleet seeks out a lost tribe of humanity that was believed to have settled on a planet called Earth. A sequel series, Galactica 1980, debuted two years later. Other efforts to revive the series never went anywhere.
The franchise eventually came back in 2003 when the SCIFI channel produced a miniseries that reimagined the original concept, but with a more realistic style and story. Helmed by Ron Moore, this new series didn’t connect to the original. It received widespread critical acclaim, and was later followed by a prequel spinoff series, Caprica, and a webseries, Blood & Chrome.
Since that particular iteration came to an end, Universal has been working to try and figure out a way to bring it back again. In 2009, Bryan Singer (X-Men) had signed on to direct a feature film, with Glen Larson set as producer. Singer had been working to develop a continuation of the original series for years—as far back as 2001. That project stalled, and Universal hired Jack Paglen (Transcendence) to write a new take in 2014. Two years later, it brought in producer Michael De Luca to helm a potential film franchise, with Westworld‘s Lisa Joy set to write the screenplay and Francis Lawrence courted to direct. Kinberg seems to be the latest writer to tackle this particular project.
To further complicate things, word broke last year that Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail was going to reboot the franchise for a television series for NBC’s Peacock streaming service. Early indications pointed to a spinoff of Moore’s series, with Esmail saying that he’ll “explore a new story within the mythology,” while Moore explained that while he’s not involved, he understood the plan as not being a restart, but something that would be set in the same universe. Earlier this year, the series picked up Michael Lesslie (Little Drummer Girl) to act as showrunner and producer for the new project.
Kinberg is jumping onto the franchise after working on the X-Men film franchise for nearly a decade, starting as the writer for X-Men: The Last Stand, and working on a handful of its followups, such as First Class, Days of Future Past, Fantastic Four, Deadpool, Apocalypse, Logan, Dark Phoenix (which he also directed), and New Mutants. If there’s one thing that Universal apparently needs to reboot the franchise, it’s someone who understands franchises. While the X-Men series has certainly had its ups and downs, Kinberg has a solid track record working producing that and other big projects—like Ridley Scott’s The Martian and Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium and Chappie.
That said, Battlestar Galactica does seem to present a formidable challenge, given that there’s two dueling projects in the works. Clearly, NBCUniversal wants to stand up its own space opera franchise like Disney has with Star Wars and that CBS/Paramount has with its Star Trek franchises: a mix of film and television projects that it can count on to bring in viewers and box office dollars. The Hollywood Reporter doesn’t give any indication that this film franchise will be connected to the streaming franchise, and it’ll be interesting to see how or if the studio reconciles those two properties.