Alex Proyas' I, Robot did well enough at the box office back in 2004, but it drew the ire of sci-fi purists for ditching Harlan Ellison's fabled adaptation of the Isaac Asimov short stories in favor of a new, very un-Asimov script that was only "suggested by" the original book.
Now Proyas is planning another sci-fi adaptation, this time of the work of Asimov's fellow Grand Master Robert A. Heinlein. Is it too early for torches and pitchforks?
Film production and financing company Red Granite announced today that they've partnered with Proyas for an adaptation of Heinlein's 1942 novella The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag. Proyas will both write and direct the flick, which the company hopes to start shooting in Australia sometime this fall.
Heinlein's story follows the title character as he suddenly realizes he has no idea what he does for a living and has no memory of his daytime activities. Understandably freaked out, he contacts a husband-and-wife detective agency and hires them to follow him during the day to find out what he's been up to. The result is a web of dark mystery, beginning with warnings from some shady characters that the detectives should stop before they find something they shouldn't see.
Proyas considers himself a lifelong fan of the story, and even calls it an inspiration for his 1998 cult classic Dark City. A lifetime of love for a piece of literature is definitely a good place to start when you're talking adaptation, but we always have to worry just how much the Hollywood machine will chew the source material up. After all, how many times have you gone to see a mainstream film with a title as long as The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag?
It's also worth noting, though, before we go right for the cynicism jugular, that Proyas only directed I, Robot. The screenplay went through a number of studio rewrites that stripped away much of Asimov's original ideas until it became the Will Smith action vehicle we saw. Proyas might have had some input there, but we can't place the blame for that flick's plot entirely on his shoulders.
We don't know just how faithful Proyas' script for Hoag is, or who'll make the cast, but we're trying to hold out hope that we won't see another I, Robot-style reworking. What do you think? Is there reason to have faith this time?