Keanu Reeves will star in the planned remake of the 1951 Robert Wise-directed sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still.
In the Twentieth Century Fox reimaging — slated for a late fall or early 2008 production start — Reeves will play the role of Klaatu, a peaceful humanoid alien who comes to Earth to warn the people of their impending annihilation.
In the original black and white film, Klaatu comes to Earth during the height of the Cold War. The alien, played by Michael Rennie, lands his flying-saucer-style spaceship in the middle of Washington, D.C and tells authorities that the people of Earth have been under observation. He warns that if the Earth’s leaders do not cease their violent warmongering, the Earth will be destroyed. Klaatu is accompanied by an armed and powerful robot named Gort and is helped throughout the film by the young widow Helen and her son Bobby.
Erwin Stoff will produce and Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose will direct the remake. The script by David Scarpa will update the Cold War premise and the film will use advances in visual effects.
The original film is best known for the line “Klaatu barada nikto,” which is the message Helen must give to Gort to prevent the robot from destroying the Earth. There’s been many pop culture references to the phrase, but it was popularized in the third Evil Dead movie, Army of Darkness — it’s what Bruce Campbell’s character Ash must utter correctly in order to retrieve the Necronomicon.
Another popular reference to the film: the opening words of “Science Fiction/Double Feature” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show — “Michael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still …”