With The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Terminator: Genisys both set to hit theaters just a few months apart next summer, moviegoers have no shortage of big budget tales of ‘artificial intelligence gone wild.’ Even though the trope has been used in films several times before, it’s becoming more and more relevant, with technology constantly evolving and upgrading on a seemingly daily basis.
That’s one of the reasons for the strong interest in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the 2011 novel Robopocalypse. Author Dan Wilson’s work was essentially World War Z with cyborgs; in that it was written as an oral history of its titular event, which saw an A.I. called Archos gear up a massive attack on humanity. Wilson based the book on actual robotics research and received a positive reception, so it certainly seemed like something audiences would eat up on-screen.
Astute readers will recall that this particular project has been in development for several years now. The Oscar-winning director was talking about making the film back before 2012’s Lincoln entered production, and at one point, Robopocalypse was set for a summer 2013 release. Obviously, a lot has changed since then, and the film was put on an indefinite hold a couple years back.
Earlier this year, there were reports that indicated the sci-fi flick could serve as Spielberg’s Lincoln follow-up, but all’s been quiet on that front with the director working hard on a Cold War thriller starring Tom Hanks (set for an October 2015 release) and an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel The BFG (which will debut in July 2016). However, Robopocalypse isn’t dead in the water just yet. Wilson himself provided the latest update on its status, speaking with Den of Geek:
“It’s basically in the queue as far as I know. You know, Spielberg has other movies that he’s directing right now. But Robopocalypse has certainly been worked on. I’m sure that DreamWorks is still very excited about it. That’s what all indications are. It’s just about being patient, you know? I don’t really know what a timeline is, but that’s certainly normal.”
This isn’t exactly the greatest news for those who were looking forward to Spielberg’s take on the rogue A.I. narrative, but it is somewhat promising in that it’s still “in the queue” (allegedly). Like Wilson said, Spielberg has his hands tied up in other projects at the moment, so if he ever does move into production on this adaptation, it most likely won’t be for another few years.
Wilson’s comments are coated in optimism, but he did refer to his excitement should the film “ever come together”; a potentially ominous hint that Robopocalypse may not be moving along so smoothly. So it may still be a case of a good story getting lost in development hell. And that would be a shame: A.I. is an oft-used concept in Hollywood, but Spielberg is a smart helmsman and was planning on crafting a film that illustrated the consequences of “making our lives easier;” giving viewers something they could appreciate and relate to at the same time. Plus, Spielberg had himself a nice cast with A-listers like Chris Hemsworth and Anne Hathaway signed on, so the film was promising on several levels.
Although it sounds as if Spielberg could start moving forward on Robopocalypse once he wraps up The BFG, we’re not going to hold our breath. By then, the director may have decided to move on to something else entirely. Between now and then, Ultron will have his strings de-tached, and Arnold will be back in his most iconic role. There’s no question Spielberg could do something interesting with this material, but evil A.I. may have already had its time.
We’ll keep you updated on Robopocalypse when more information becomes available.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.