Script issues still holding up Dambusters remake

Rivers LOR

Maybe it’s a mark of how far this subject has dropped off the radar, but I have only just caught up with a four-month-old snippet of news from Down Under. New Zealand Herald film critic Dominic Corry met Christian Rivers at the premiere of The Hobbit last December (yes really!), and asked him what was the situation with the remake of everyone’s favourite 1955 war film.

In 2008, it was announced that Jackson would produce a remake of 1955 World War II classic The Dam Busters, which was to be directed by Weta staple Christian Rivers (who won a special effects Oscar for his work on King Kong). The project seemed a natural fit for a war plane-obsessed ‘wingnut’ like Peter Jackson, but nothing has come to pass as yet, despite a bunch of replica planes having apparently already been built for the project.

I spoke to Rivers briefly on the red carpet at the Wellington premiere of The Hobbit, and he told me they are still planning to make the film but that it’s on hold at the moment due to script issues. I hope it happens eventually – there’s such a wealth of creativity at Weta, it seems crazy that we haven’t seen a film come out of that talent pool yet.

‘Script issues’ eh? To me, the problem is time. Jackson and his cohorts are getting a whole lot of moolah for spinning out The Hobbit over three films. Then there’s the small matter of a sequel to Tintin, and various other fantasy film projects. A remake of The Dam Busters, however much it might appeal to readers of this blog and a few million other war film buffs, would never make as much money as these high profile movies. That’s the way the economics of the film industry works.
On the other hand, we can’t discount the fact that Jackson is a self-confessed aero nut, and is probably still personally committed to the project. And so is Christian Rivers, despite the rumour a year or so ago that he was off doing something else.
Jackson’s involvement in the Dambusters remake was originally announced in 2006. Will we see it completed by the tenth anniversary of this historic day? I wouldn’t bet on it.

[Hat tip: Wings over New Zealand Forum.]

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12 thoughts on “Script issues still holding up Dambusters remake

  1. philip croft April 17, 2013 / 3:18 pm

    This has become not only farce, but to my mind, unacceptable deceit. Whatever the excuses are for not fulfilling the ecpectations of —to my mind–a huge army of his followers, the total lack of communication with the public at large, and therefore high frustration, displays a mean and uncaring attitude. It has to be said, that a high propotion of would-be ‘customers haven’t got much time to wait

  2. philip croft April 17, 2013 / 3:29 pm

    Once again this site has balls-up my comment with the email details box covering up my comment and not allowing me to correct keyboard mistakes.

  3. alan pearce April 17, 2013 / 3:54 pm

    Of course we’re all impatient to see such a remake, but I guess the guy’s in business, and I suppose money must come first, especially in today’s hard times. I’d hate to see a half hearted attempt at the film, one that suffers through lack of proper funding. If the film ever gets made, I’ll be one of the first in the queue to watch it and will be grateful that it’s
    been done at all.

  4. Graeme Jensen April 18, 2013 / 12:21 am

    As a result of the delay, I have become somewhat ambivolent as to whether the film is made or not. Whilst on the one hand I would love to see the courage, skill and sacrifces of those who took part in the mission brought to the attention of the current generation I am also concerned, given the rediculous issue raised over the name of a dog on the basis of political correctness, as to what licence may be taken by the producers in the interests of commercial expedience.
    I would have thought the greater issue for the producers would be casting rather than the script. A pity the bulk of the cast of the Battle of Britain are no longer with us.
    Maybe I’ve seen the original film too many times.
    Having said all this if the remake eventuates, like Alan Pearce, I’ll be jostling for first place in the queue for a ticket.

    Graeme Jensen

  5. Dom April 19, 2013 / 12:53 am

    I have said this before, I can not see this happening untill the 75th Anniversary of the raid…. if nothing starts by 2015/6 then questions should be asked

  6. Pete Hill April 23, 2013 / 2:35 pm

    The main reason may be simply financial cold-feet on the part of the studio bean-counters. Let’s face it, as far as Hollywood goes, war movies are pretty much box-office poison right now, especially aviation-themed ones. Look at the last three major wartime aviation films released in the west over the past ten years- the WW1 drama Flyboys (2006) was a box-office & critical dud, the expensive German film Der Rote Baron (2008) went so over budget, the producers were unable to finish it and had to cobble it together with the footage they had managed to shoot (which didn’t work) and finally George Lucas’ CGI-heavy Red Tails (2012) which, after years of delays, re-shoots and quite a bit of Lucas’ own cash, fared so poorly at the US box office, they didn’t even bother to release it on dvd here in Australia.
    Some countries seem to be churning out war movies at a rush, such as South Korea (Brotherhood, 71-Into the Fire, My Way, Front-Line) and Russia (Fortress Brest, The White Tiger and the upcoming big-budget Stalingrad in 2014).
    But in the West, the resurgence of war flicks that started back in 1998 with Saving Private Ryan seems to be on the wane. Numerous recently announced projects such as the Korean war drama 17 Days in Winter, the Tom Cruise project The Few (about the US pilot Billy Fiske who flew in the Battle of Britain) and John Woo’s planned film about the AVG Flying Tigers have been cancelled or postponed. One bit of promising news is that HBO have green-lit Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks to make their third epic mini-series, this one called ‘Masters of the Sky’ which will be about the 8th Air-Force over Western Europe in WW2.

  7. Simon Worte. May 18, 2013 / 8:19 pm

    I’m not worried by the delay if it means not jumping in and making a mess of it. This is a remake which must be exceptional and one hundred per cent respectful otherwise it will be met with howls of derision.

  8. Martin Bradley August 13, 2013 / 5:16 pm

    Just get the damn film made while those of us who lived through the war are still alive.

  9. Emmy Curtis September 13, 2014 / 6:29 pm

    I really want this to happen, and I think it could be done in the vein of Pearl Harbor (although one woud hope with a more genuine plot) so I don’t doubt it would make money in the USA too. I’m sure Peter Jackson could get actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Ton Hiddleston, Tom Hardy etc which would make it potentially huge in the box office. SO I’m not sure that’s the issue.

    I also don’t believe that it IS a remake. I think Jackson wants to tell the story, not just remake the movie.

    I don’t believe making the plot/visuals relevent for today’s market would make it bad, and I also don’t think that a scene by scene movie remake would get the best results either (I mean, why bother if you can’t bring something new?). As long as the story is told, that will be enough for me, and most movie-goers. And sorry for my rambling there 🙂

    Twitter campaign anyone? 🙂

  10. ian October 30, 2014 / 11:33 pm

    Guy Gibson and Cheshire will turn in their graves if you botch the script. So fellas get your act together.

  11. Rob April 16, 2015 / 1:32 pm

    Cheshire had nothing to do with the raid

    • Ron Morgan April 9, 2017 / 5:30 am

      No, but he did go on to lead 617 squadron later, after the raid.

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