Released over three decades ago to this day, the sci-fi cult classic The Last Starfighter was a groundbreaking achievement in cinematic special effects as one of the earliest feature films to employ computer-generated imagery. Now the film’s screenwriter Jonathan Betuel wants to revive his creation as a television series, and it will have an intriguing hook that no other program has: virtual reality.
Betuel is teaming up with Andy Vick and Rick Rey, the co-founders of the virtual reality entertainment company Surreal, for the new series which will be titled The Starfigher Chronicles. The show won’t continue the story of the film, which focused on a teenager whose dreams of leaving home for a better life and his skills at an arcade video game get him embroiled in an intergalactic war. Instead, Chronicles will be “a serialized story about alien law enforcement,” according to Variety’s Janko Roettgers.
The show will offer viewers a unique interactive experience that can only be made possible through the donning of virtual reality headsets. During a particular scene, they will be able to explore environments and get in closer on action sequences. “It’s a very interesting blend,” Betuel said in a recent interview. “The otherworldiness of it lends itself to VR.”
Betuel has held on to the Last Starfigher sequel and remake rights for years; although both Seth Rogen and Steven Spielberg were interested in revitalizing the property for the modern age, the original’s writer refused to sell them.
Interactive television is not exactly a fresh concept – in the late 1980s, the syndicated series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future allowed its younger audience to participate in the chases and laser shootouts with special toys – and a genre like science-fiction offers a myriad of possibilities for the technology to entertain viewers of a more advanced and enlightened generation.
Right now, The Starfighter Chronicles is in the development stages and does not yet have a network committed to airing it, but with its ideal match of concept and the interactive virtual reality, one has to at least give it a chance. But Betuel and the Surreal guys might want to consider making those headsets pretty affordable. Otherwise, what would be the point?