Deadline is reporting that Warner Bros. Pictures and Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Appian Way have acquired the property rights to H.G. Wells 1896 science fiction novel The Island of Dr. Moreau.
Writers Lee Shipman and Brian McGreevy have been hired to adapt the novel, which has seen its fair share of cinematic iterations in the past. Most notably, in 1932, Erle C. Kenton directed the Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi starring cult classic, Island of Lost Souls. 1977 saw Burt Lancaster and Michael York in another cult film. Most recently, Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer and Ron Perlman slogged through a messy, studio-interfered version with legendary director John Frankenheimer at the helm. That film has been treated less favorably in both the popular and cult areas of film fandom.
In the Criterion Collection’s edition of the 1932 Island of Lost Souls, writer Richard Stanley (who was at first to direct the 1997 version, but was shoved out of his role in the picture) chronicles his disappointments with the ill-fated remake and his desire to once again return to the Island of Dr. Moreau.
I, for one, hope he gets that chance this time around.
As for this new film, Shipman and McGreevy are involved in the Netflix Original Series Hemlock Grove as Executive Producers and writers. Their credits aren’t very long and I’m not too familiar with the Hemlock work, so I have little in the way to judge the hire, but I hope the classic novel is given its just deserves. Its got a great social message and has potential to be genuinely frightening if handled correctly.
All previous versions’ handling of the Panther Woman delved into schlock and that tragic character’s involvement in this new adaptation ought to be especially fine-tuned in order for this new remake to work.
DiCaprio himself has only starred in three of his Appian Way-produced films (The Wolf of Wall Street, Shutter Island and The Aviator), so unless Martin Scorsese takes up this project (which would be amazing; Scorsese has never done sci-fi/horror), this picture might be destined for the Orphan or Red Riding Hood realm of “bad”.
Nevertheless, I’ll keep an open mind on this one and hope for the best. No word on a release date, director, stars or anything else yet for The Island of Dr. Moreau. FlickSided will bring it to you when we hear it!