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SYFY WIRE Rebel Moon

Zack Snyder opens up about the plot of his 'Star Wars'-esque Netflix sci-fi epic 'Rebel Moon'

The Star Wars comparisons are everywhere, but Zack Snyder says the upcoming movie hatches an "original IP" with "no strings attached."

By Benjamin Bullard
Zack Snyder

Fans who’ve been following along on Zack Snyder’s newest live-action journey know his upcoming Netflix sci-fi movie Rebel Moon has the makings of something special. With a dream cast inhabiting an all-new, made-from-scratch story-verse, Rebel Moon already has drawn oodles of early comparisons with the original Star Wars and that franchise’s own debt to Akira Kurosawa’s power-to-the-people drama Seven Samurai.

Snyder’s made no secret of the upcoming film’s Star Wars inspiration, but as he reminded fans in a recent chat with the Philadelphia-hosted The Preston & Steve Show (scroll to the 2:46 mark to get to the good stuff), Rebel Moon represents something entirely new: It’s an “original IP, so there’s no strings attached,” he explained, before taking listeners on a firsthand tour of the movie’s Kurosawa-worthy plot.

“[I]t’s a space fantasy, so there’s no Earth, necessarily,” said Snyder. “There’s a community on a planet, a farming planet, and there’s a bunch of bad guys. The mother world’s armies are in the area, and they need to be fed. So they come to the village and ask for the village to feed them, basically, while they’re doing their war in that area of the galaxy. And of course, they are not kind about asking — and the result will probably be the obliteration of the village. The villagers decide to fight, and so they have to go out into the galaxy and collect some soldiers, warriors to help them.”

Sprung from a decade-old Star Wars pitch Snyder made to Lucasfilm in the studio’s pre-Disney days, the Rebel Moon story reportedly was too dark, at the time, for the galaxy far, far away. With the original idea in hand, though, Snyder and longtime writing collaborator Kurt Johnstead (300, Atomic Blonde) got to work on a script, bringing in Army of the Dead franchise writer Shay Hatten as the movie got the Netflix green light.

Most of the Rebel Moon cast hasn’t yet been publicly paired with the new sci-fi characters they’ll play, but the movie stars Sofia Boutella (Atomic Blonde, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities) as Kora, the mysterious would-be savior of the galaxy. The full squad brings some serious acting chops, including Cary Elwes, Ray Fisher, Charlie Hunnam, Djimon Hounsou, Jena Malone, Ed Skrein, Corey Stoll, Cleopatra Coleman, Fra Fee, and the inimitable Anthony Hopkins.

Snyder teased plenty of Star Wars-style action in Rebel Moon’s David-versus-Goliath story setup, but said a lot of what viewers will see from Boutella in particular will be the work not of stunt stand-ins, but the actor herself.

“She’s super athletic and has been able to do these amazing stunts, so it’s really cool to see them fighting and just — it’s them,” he said, adding it’s been a boon on set to “have athletic actors who can do just whatever I ask — which is taxing on them, but they do an amazing job.”

Whatever they’re up to on the still-filming movie, it definitely sounds like a full-scale immersion for the cast in a dangerous new sci-fi world. “The action is really intense,” said Snyder. “[I’m] just really excited about doing some sci-fi battle, 'Endor' action sequences. I’ve never really done that, so it was really fun to sort of dive into that with both feet. Also it’s really fun to imagine these worlds, and kind of build out this brand new mythology — brand-new and fresh cultures and planets and everything.”

Snyder hedged on revealing whether Rebel Moon will be ready to stream in 2023, though the hope is that the film is successful enough to inspire future expansion into a larger thematic universe. When it does arrive, Rebel Moon will land as a platform exclusive at Netflix.

Looking for more high-concept science fiction? Stream SYFY's Battlestar Galactica, the Jurassic World Dominion extended edition and more on Peacock right now.