In recent years, Hollywood studios have realized that many of their older SFF properties could be refurbished, resulting in a stream of 21st-century remakes, continuations, and long-overdue sequels to films like Alien, Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Robocop, and Tron.
One of the cult classics that hasn’t been reworked yet is Nick Castle’s 1984 science fiction film The Last Starfighter, although that’s not for the lack of effort. There’s been some interest from various screenwriters and directors over the years, and a recently-released concept art sizzle reel shows off one effort.
The Last Starfighter was one of the first to utilize CGI in the 1980s, and it’s remained a bit of a cult classic. It follows teenager Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), who’s grown up in a trailer park, looking to escape from what he sees as a meaningless existence, and takes refuge in an arcade game called Starfighter. After taking over the game’s high score, the game’s inventor, Centauri, approaches him and tells him that the game isn’t really a game: it’s a test to help screen out worthy pilots to help him defend his civilization from the Ko-Dan Empire.
Alex gets to live out a nerd fantasy of flying starfighters, and plenty of space battles ensue.
Fast forward a bunch of years, and The Last Starfighter seems like one of those properties that’s ripe for a sequel. There were some efforts more than a decade ago from a company called GPA Entertainment called Starfighter, described as a sequel, and Steven Spielberg apparently tried and failed to get the rights (along with Seth Rogan).
Okay, probably shouldn’t show you this so early but here’s a little something I’ve been tinkering on with my co-writer Jonathan Betuel. You might recognize the ships. Thanks to the amazing Matt Allsopp (lead concept artist on ROGUE ONE) for creating these images for us. pic.twitter.com/CIobLYYRHk
— Gary Whitta (@garywhitta) April 4, 2018
In 2018, Rogue One screenwriter Gary Whitta partnered with the original film’s writer, Jonathan Betuel, coming up with some concept art and a pitch, telling io9 that it was an all-time favorite and that he tracked down Betuel and they began talking about what a sequel might look like: something that would “[honor] the legacy of the original film while passing the torch to a new generation.”
Since then, it looks like there’s been some behind the scenes work. Betuel told Moviehole last year that they were working on a script and had regained the rights to the story. “Although nothing is ever clear sailing, it looks like we have a good opportunity now.”
That brings us up to now: Whitta released a short sizzle reel for the project featuring concept art from artist Matt Allsopp. The sizzle shows off a potentially grim story: downed starfighters, their pilots executed by their enemies, and members of the Ko-Dan Empire arriving on Earth, prompting someone to head back out into space and save the day.
Obviously, there’s a lot that could change between now and a theoretical finished product, but it looks like an exciting story, one that looks as though it’ll introduce not only plenty of space action, but some new worlds and characters that’ll continue that story. Hopefully, it’ll eventually see the light of day.