It's been more than a year since Mark Wahlberg began building a remake of the popular '70s television series The Six Million Dollar Man, and various obstacles and pitfalls have stood in the actor's way. Now it's official: Wahlberg's dream project is about to become a reality -- with a huge title change.
The title might irk some fans of the original series, but the film will now be called the The Six Billion Dollar Man. Adjusted for inflation? Possibly. Writer-director Damián Szifron (Wild Tales), who is scheduled to write the screenplay for the movie, has also been handed directorial duties on The Six Billion Dollar Man, according to a press release sent out by TWC-Dimension. The release also reveals that principal photography will not begin until September 2016, with the release date aiming to capitalize on the winter holiday season: December 22, 2017.
TWC-Dimension co-chairman Bob Weinstein was thrilled at announcing Szifron's involvement.
"Damián's unique vision and longtime passion for this story will usher in a new take on this series for a new generation. We are excited to release the film during the holidays to bring audiences an explosive reimagining of this cultural icon."
Fans have to wait two years? This could suggest that Mark Wahlberg's slate is booked up until then, with Peter Berg's Mile 22 next on the agenda, not to mention a possible Transformers sequel in the works and several other projects consuming his time. Either that or The Six Billion Dollar Man is going to require some extensive time in post-production, where state-of-the-art special effects can bring a new look and modern appeal to our rebuilt hero, one that will bring him smoothly into the 21st Century. Let's not forget that Mark Wahlberg is intending to star in the movie himself -- as revealed by Screen Rant -- so it will require a hefty amount of his time to participate.
According to the press release, the movie will use two sources for the plot. The main focus will be the '70s television series, which starred Lee Majors as a former astronaut whose broken body is infused with bionic parts. He is then employed by the government to embark on covert missions. The show itself was inspired by Martin Caidin's novel Cyborg, and the film is expected to borrow from these pages too.
In fairness, along with the many TV shows getting reboots and remakes and reimaginings in Hollywood, it's a surprise that The Six Billion Dollar Man didn't happen sooner. It has massive franchise potential, not to mention spinoff material, including The Bionic Woman, which could easily be made as its own movie. A 2007 series was met with largely negative reviews and only aired for one season, but it could be a chance to save the franchise. On the heels of '60s television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E, it will have to tread carefully -- the 2015 movie adaptation only made $100.5 million worldwide on a $75 million budget. The remake of Robocop -- the original was a cult favourite with similar robotic themes -- only grossed $242.7 million on a $100 million budget, but it did ditch the humour and subversive commercialism of the original.
With a host of robotic dramas/thriller/comedies in the past forty or so years, The Six Billion Dollar Man will have a range of films to aspire to/learn from. With such a hefty amount of production scheduled, they may be using the time to ensure the film is the best product it can be and to ensure it remains faithful to the source material. After all, for every A-Team and The Man From U.N.C.L.E, there is a 21 Jump Street and Mission: Impossible -- it can be done right with the correct crew. Can they build a successful franchise from the series? Well, they do have the technology. If they can make him better, stronger, faster -- well, that remains to be seen.
The Six Billion Dollar Man will be released on December 22, 2017.
[Featured image courtesy of Paramount Pictures]