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A long-grounded film project from Disney is about to finally take off. Deadline is reporting that the studio is relaunching The Rocketeer to be developed as a live-action feature film for its Disney+ streaming service.
The film, entitled The Return of the Rocketeer, is being produced by David and Jessica Oyelowo through their Yoruba Saxon Productions banner. Edward Ricourt of Jessica Jones fame is on board to write the script, with David Oyelowo to possibly star. Per the media outlet, Ricourt’s script will focus on a retired Tuskegee airman who takes up the mantle of the Rocketeer. (The Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, is describing the project as a “reboot sequel.”)
The original film, released in 1991 and directed by Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger), took place in 1938 and featured Billy Campbell as Cliff Secord, a young stunt pilot who discovers a prototype jetpack that allows him to fly. With it, he becomes a flying masked hero who takes on the mob and Nazis. The film also starred Jennifer Connelly, Timothy Dalton, and Alan Arkin.
Based on Dave Stevens’ 1982 indie comic book character, The Rocketeer was an homage to the Saturday matinee serial heroes of the 1930s and 1940s a la Star Wars and Indiana Jones. While not a hit when it was originally released (it only grossed $46.6 million during its original run), The Rocketeer wound up becoming a cult classic in recent years.
Disney previously tried to revive the property in 2016 by hiring Max Winkler and Matt Spicer to write the screenplay for The Rocketeers. But alas, that project never wound up lifting off. It does not appear as though Ricourt’s story will follow the story of Winkler and Spicer’s script, which was set to feature a young Black woman in the eponymous role. Disney Junior also made an animated series based on the IP in 2019, featuring a young girl named Kit who dons the jetpack and takes on the rocketeering mantle.
For this latest iteration, Brigham Taylor is also producing alongside Yoruba Saxon, with Mortal Media executive producing. This project will be the first film to be produced by Yoruba Saxon through its first-look deal with Disney.