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SYFY WIRE Jennifer Connelly

Dark City director Alex Proyas reportedly tuning up for new series based on the 1998 sci-fi cult classic

By Benjamin Bullard
Dark City

More than 20 years on from its 1998 theatrical release, Dark City remains a sci-fi classic, a film that’s collected a devoted cult following for director Alex Proyas’ deft merging of horror, spaced-out science fiction, and high-concept existential questioning — all packaged in a good old-fashioned noir detective story.

Now Proyas reportedly has some big Dark City news that’ll definitely have longtime fans tuning out all other distractions: a brand-new series set within the Dark City universe. Bloody Disgusting caught his recent comments on the new series — which he reportedly described as being in the “very early stages” — during Proyas’ recent Q&A at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, where the famed director of The Crow showed up to premiere a new 20-minute short titled Mask of the Evil Apparition.

Dark City right now is really an intriguing one to me because we’re developing a series, a Dark City series,” Proyas told host (and fellow filmmaker) Joe Lynch, via BD’s report.

“…[W]e’re in the very early stages but I’m having to reanalyze in order to construct a new story,” Proyas reportedly continued. “I’m having to go back and kind of jog my memory as to what we actually did and what I think worked and what I think didn’t work and reevaluate my own film, so that’s been a very interesting experience as well, which I’ve not done before.”

It sounds as though the series is too early in development for any details on story, casting, or a future TV home. But the setting of the original film is so distinctive that even the idea of a fresh expansion on the movie's gritty world should be more than enough to conjure fans’ excitement. Two decades after its release, it’s still not worth spoiling the story for newcomers, but the film unfolds in a unique, eternally-dark urban world, one that mixes Art Deco and steampunk trappings with an alien technology that can "tune" — that is, use a sort of hive-mind power to destroy and rebuild entire cityscapes. It all serves as a dystopian maze that entraps protagonist John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell).

Waking up naked and confused in someone else’s bathtub, Murdoch sets out to navigate the shapeshifting city in search of traces of his lost memories. There’s a killer on the loose, and all signs point to him…but he uncovers a much deeper mystery behind the murders, his own past, the city itself, and — no exaggeration here — all its inhabitants’ place in the larger universe.

Dark City elicited killer performances from Sewell and the rest of its ensemble cast, which features Kiefer Sutherland as a beleaguered doctor, William Hurt as a gumshoe investigator, and Jennifer Connelly as Murdoch’s wife (famously, Dark City would be the first of three movies that all filmed near-identical scenes of Connelly standing at the end of a pier; Requiem for a Dream and House of Sand and Fog are the others.)

While we wait for more news on whatever Proyas is cooking up with his new Dark City series, you can catch the original film (as well as the 2008 director’s cut) on Blu-ray, Amazon Prime, and via a host of digital storefronts.