Film Preview: Neuromancer (2014)

Release Date: 2014 (speculative)

Director: Vincenzo Natali

At the time of writing this, the Wikipedia article for the William Gibson novel “Neuromancer” says “There have been several unsuccessful initial attempts at film adaptations of Neuromancer”. This is the understatement of understatements. Gibson’s book is widely heralded as the largest contributor to the solidification of Cyberpunk as a genre, and a (respectful) film adaptation could be the most important thing to happen in the area since… well, ever. Rather than flood the site with 100s of articles about the progress of this project, we’re going to continually update this page with news as it surfaces with newer info at the top (read up from the bottom for a full history).

2014, Feb – The head of Seven Arts Entertainment, a major investor in this Neuromancer film adaptation has been charged with Film Tax Credit Fraud. It is as yet unclear how seriously this will impact on the production, but remember to stay in touch for any news as it appears. More info here: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/movie-producer-peter-hoffman-charged-679077

On a more positive note, we recently had the pleasure of seeing the low-budget Mexican scifi film Sleep Dealer (2008) and felt compelled to mention it in this Neuromancer article. If you can overlook some slightly less than convincing special effects, it is an excellent piece of cyberpunk film-making and is clearly influenced by the Neuromancer book. It immediately re-validates many of the themes and ideas from 80s cyberpunk and brings them into a more “modern” (for want of a better word) context, without losing any potency. Find it and watch it!

2013, Oct – An article on Yahoo Finance ( http://finance.yahoo.com/news/seven-arts-announces-sales-mipcom-133000567.html ) reveals that a four-minute “previsualization teaser” has been screened at the 2013 American Film Market in California. What type of content this will be is unclear, but what we do know is that any news of production moving is good, and WE WANT TO SEE THIS FOOTAGE.

2012, Nov – ComingSoon.net get this snap of an early teaser poster for the film at the American Film Market (AFM) industry event in Santa Monica. It would appear to indicate that stick-on “trodes” from the book have been replaced with (nice and grungy) metal socket connectors, and that console jockeys possibly now “Jack In” (very happy to see they retained that phrase too) using their hands…

2012, Aug – Concept art for the film emerges (see below) and the GFM Films wesbsite now has a page about the production ( http://www.gfmfilms.co.uk/films/pre-production/neuromancer/ ) with a synopsys that is reassuringly true to the source material:

Case is a low level hustler living out his last days on the streets of the future Tokyo underground. A talented thief who would break into high security computer systems by directly linking his brain into them, he is discovered and injected with a poison which renders him unable to interface into cyberspace. Unable to work, Case embarks on a self-destructive path of drug addiction and double dealings, waiting for a local crime lord to collect on money and time that doesn’t exist. Enter a shady businessman named Armitage who offers him the impossible: the chance to repair his neural damage and regain the life he once had. There is a catch though. Armitage has implanted timer activated poisons in Case’s body that he can react if Case doesn’t carry out what he asks. Placed under the protection of Molly, a professional killer who frees him by executing the crime lord, Case is put on a mystery assignment that begins a journey out of the gutters of future Tokyo and into an ever-expanding world of multinational intrigue.

Neuromancer

The fist tattoo would indicate the first image is Arimitage. Could Mark Wahlberg have been offered this part (given his muscular physique), or the part of Case?

2012, July – Some news of progress with Natali emerges; Mark Wahlberg and Liam Neeson are offered parts. Neeson seems like he could play a few of the roles but Wahlberg seems worryingly out of place, especially if he is being cast as Case, the 24 year old nerdy drug addict cyberspace hacker (not a typical Wahlberg role).

2012, Jan – Natali’s next film, “Haunter”, goes into pre-production; questions are raised about whether he is still working on Neuromancer.

2011 – Seven Arts Pictures and GFM Films (the producers working with Natali) confirm they have secured $60m (£37m) funding for the production at the Cannes Film Festival; the film goes into pre-production with Natali’s screenplay; Rumors of Bruce Willis being attached (?!)

Below is a press conference video from Sept 2011 where Natali talks about adapting Neuromancer for film, comparison with The Matrix and working with William Gibson:

2010 – Salvation comes with the news that Vincenzo Natali would be rewriting the screenplay and directing the film. Most fans are behind this, given Natali’s previous work on low-budget scifi films Cypher (2002) and Cube (1997) using non-mainstream talent; however many have given up on there ever being a film by this point, and some are starting to like it that way.

2007 – It emerges that director Joseph Kahn is working on a film with Milla Jovovich in the lead role of Molly. The news does not meet fans well as his only film directing credit at the time is Torque, a CGI-heavy cheesy action film about biker gangs starring Ice Cube. Some early storyboards emerge showing a Matrix-like action sequence; everyone looses faith.

2000-2004 – Various on/off information surfaces regarding British director Chris Cunningham picking up the director’s chair for what would be his first full-length feature film. Due to the intense and gritty Cyberpunk-influenced visual style of Cunningham’s music video work, fans rejoyce and Gibson states that he is “The only person I’ve met who I thought might have a hope in hell of doing it right”. Cunningham then leaves the project, possibly due to being a first time director without final cut approval and because too much of the book’s ideas had been cannibalised by other films (worried he’d be accused of making a Matrix rip-off for his first film?)

1995 – Johnny Mnemonic (another Gibson story set in the same universe as Neuromancer) is released as a large-scale film production starring Keanu Reeves. It meets a negative reception but develops a cult following due to the strong Cyberpunk themes and aesthetics being brought to life. The “Molly” character does not appear in the film (despite being in both Johnny Mnemonic and Neuromancer stories) – presumably because the rights to use that character are part of the Neuromancer film rights.

1986 – William Gibson sells the Neuromancer film rights to Cabana Boy Productions but a film never gets off the ground. Things go quiet for a while.

1984 – The William Gibson novel “Neuromancer” is published; wins various scifi literary awards; remains popular but unknown outside of the genre; enormous cult following; accusations of copying “Blade Runner” in style and tone, although Gibson denies them.

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