No sooner did Buck Rogers get optioned for a feature film this summer than the rumors named Frank Miller as the director, something that everyone involved has denied until now. The Hollywood Reporter and Variety both say Odd Lot Entertainment is close to signing Miller to adapt the comic strip to the screen.
Odd Lot hired Miller to direct The Spirit, which opens on Christmas Day and producer Deborah Del Prete let slip in October that Miller would move to the science fiction hero next. Odd Lot obtained the rights from Nu Image/Millennium, which has been holding the rights since the summer, obtained from the Dille Trust. The Trust is headed by John Flint Dille, a longtime friend of Miller’s, and he may have started the rumor at the time of the deal.
Miller will reportedly write and direct the adaptation which will likely follow his personal dark vision of dystopias.
Acclaimed for his work in comics on Daredevil and The Dark Knight Returns, his film work has been less well received starting with his work on RoboCop 2. His Sin City was a major success and 300 was based on his Dark Horse graphic novel, although it was adapted by Zack Snyder. Miller is making his solo debut on The Spirit, based on Will Eisner’s legendary comic strip. Early reviews broke yesterday and have been uniformly negative. This could well be the second straight super-hero misfire from Lionsgate, which delivered Punisher War Zone DOA earlier this month.
Buck Rogers was based on a 1928 novella, Armageddon 2419 AD by Philip Francis Nowlan which appeared in Amazing Stories. It quickly spawned a sequel and the stories caught the imagination of John F. Dille, president of the National Newspaper Service syndicate. He brought the feature to the newspapers as a comic strip in 1929, coming to own the property. America’s first SF comic strip, it was written by Nowlan with art by Dick Calkins. Through the years, the strip was graced with terrific art from the likes of Murphy Anderson and George Tuska, until it ended in 1967. The strip was revived in 1979 by artist Gray Morrow and writers Jim Lawrence and Cary Bates lasting until the strip’s ending in 1983.
Buck Rogers has appeared in comic books (with stunning Frank Frazetta art), serials (with Buster Crabbe), a four-times-a-week radio serial from 1932 through 1947; a 1950 half-hour television series and the 1979 NBC series (the horrible adaptation with Gil Gerard).
The Dille Trust under Flint Dille has repeatedly attempted to revive the character for modern audiences through Role Playing games, comics and media. All the attempts have yet to capture the fancy of today’s audiences.