That roaring sound outside isn't tropical storm Maria hitting land but the collective sigh of relief about Emmerich's decision to leave Asteroids, the vintage meteorite-blasting arcade game project. Whew! That was close.
Back in June, it was announced that Emmerich and would head up a big-screen Asteroids movie based on Atari's 1979 classic. Universal offered the director's chair to the German-born filmmaker while developing the blockbuster with Transformers: Dark of the Moon producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. In a monumental groan of despair that would dwarf Darth Vader's infamous howl of woe, legions of fans voiced their displeasure at the news. Now the director has decided to pass and concentrate on another sci-fi film.
In an interview with Collider at the Toronto Film Festival, Emmerich responded to questions of his detachment:
"I was very honored that they wanted to have me as a director, and I kind of liked the script very much, but at that time I was writing with my writing partner Harold Kloser a new script called Singularity and I opted for that."
We love Mr. Emmerich and his enthusiasm for our beloved genre (Stargate, Independence Day, 2012), but there are some glaring issues with his style of WTF storytelling. A certain lack of internal logic bleeds from the majority of his films. Popcorn fare or not, there are silly moments of epic head-scratching bewilderment. How the final Asteroids concept would have developed into a full-blown screenplay is to be seen, but expect some derelict spaceship marooned in an asteroid field buzzing with hostile flying saucers.
Universal had patched together a fun script by Matt Lopez (Race to Witch Mountain, The Sorcerer's Apprentice), with the human population forced off planet Earth by ruthless alien invaders. Survivors were sent to live in an asteroid belt beside aliens they were told were friendly, but who have actually "engineered Earth's destruction, and soon will do the same for the rest of humankind."
For millions of arcade addicts, many an enjoyable hour was spent playing Asteroids in the dark domains of video arcades in malls across America, feverishly feeding machines until our pockets were empty. Does this kill the deal, or will Universal search for a new director? This retro baby may be lost in space for some time.
Got your warm handful of quarters ready? Or is it game over?