With a movie version of Missile Command essentially set up at Fox and an adaptation of Asteroids in development at Universal, it was only a matter of time before a studio decided to take on the grandfather of all video games, Space Invaders.
And now it looks like one could.
Warner Bros. is negotiating to acquire feature rights to the landmark shooter from Taito, the Japanese company that originally manufactured the game. If the rights issues all work out, the project would bring on Hollywood fixtures Mark Gordon, Jason Blum and Guymon Casady as producers.
Gordon is a film veteran with experience at the big-budget art house ("Saving Private Ryan") as well as the big-budget commercial ("The Day After Tomorrow"). Blum is best known for producing horror breakout "Paranormal Activity," while Casady is a manager-producer with a slew of high-profile clients.
It's not surprising that Warner Bros. would look to jump-start a Space Invaders movie; last summer the studio bought Midway, the video game's U.S. publisher (which does not control theatrical rights), and also is developing a feature of another video game, "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider."
Space Invaders was of course the iconic game that helped start it all, a Japanese-created arcade title from 1978 that featured roving attacking ships raining vertical fire on the player's craft, which dodged and fired back. It later vaulted to prominence via the Atari 2600.
There's a bit of a loop-closing thing happening, since the game itself was inspired (loosely) by sci-fi movies like "Star Wars." Still, like most games of the era, Space Invaders features little back story, which is why it's anyone's guess what shape a movie might take.
Which we suppose is also part of the appeal, since any script involving science fiction, or invasions, or shooting, can reasonably be produced and released as a Space Invaders movie. Still, we do have to ask: With three vintage video games in development at three studios, can Pac-Man or Frogger be far behind?
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Space Invaders. Credit: Midway.