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SYFY WIRE Michael Giacchino

Director Michael Giacchino to battle giant, nuclear ants in remake of 1950s creature feature 'Them!'

Bring on the giant, irradiated ants!

By Josh Weiss
Michael Giacchino and Them! (1954)

With Marvel Studios' Werewolf by Night (now streaming on Disney+), Michael Giacchino had an opportunity to indulge his unabashed love for classic horror cinema, particularly the Universal-produced monster mashes of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. His keen eye for a retro genre aesthetic caught the attention of Warner Bros. Pictures, which has officially tapped the composer/director to helm a modern reimagining of the classic 1954 creature feature, Them!, Deadline confirmed this week.

The man himself corroborated the news by sharing the article on Twitter. Giacchino is currently in the process of meeting with screenwriters and hopes to kick off production sooner rather than later. He also plans to involve his brother, Anthony, who oversaw the making-of documentary for Werewolf by Night.

A fraught reflection of the Cold War and its grim match of nuclear chicken between the U.S. and Soviet Union, Them! centers around a struggle to contain a colony of ants that has grown to freakish size as a result of atomic testing in the American Southwest. This time-honored premise of a remote area of the United States overrun by terrifying creatures has served as the rubric for a number of '50s-era homages in the decades since (think Joe Dante's Gremlins, Ivan Reitman's Evolution, and Ellory Elkayem's Eight Legged Freaks).

“There’s always a movie in your mind that never leaves your head,” Giacchino, who also plans to score the project, told Deadline. “For me, that’s Them! It wasn’t until much later in life until I learned what it was about — the nuclear age. What I love about Them! is exactly what it’s called: Them! It’s about the other, the unknown which one refuses or can’t understand. The current version of Them! is about immigration, and to tell a story about the subject through a lens of this insane science fiction monster movie."

“Michael Giacchino is a unique talent. We’re excited to be working with him and have him at the studio,” added Warner Bros Pictures President of Production and Development Jesse Ehrman.

Directed by Gordon Douglas — whose McCarthy era offerings also included I Was a Communist for the FBI — the original Them! featured the onscreen talents of James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon, and James Arness. Forty years later, Whitmore signed on to make a little film called The Shawshank Redemption, written and directed by Them! super-fan, Frank Darabont.

"To me, he is just an absolute icon," Darabont states on the director's commentary track for the Stephen King adaptation. "The fact that he came and did this movie, it was just a total geek moment for me. And, by the way, I did have him sign my poster of Them!"

Looking for more retro sci-fi of the 20th century? The Visitor, Saturn 3, and Galaxy of Terror are now streaming on Peacock.