Stephen King cult film Lawnmower Man starred Jeff Fahey and Pierce Brosnan. Pierce Brosnan and Jeff Fahey starred in the 1992 science-fiction film The Lawnmower Man, which is to be remade as a virtual reality series. Photo: supplied
The film that introduced virtual reality to the general public 25 years ago is to be remade – this time, in the form of a virtual reality series.
The Lawnmower Man, adapted from a Stephen King short story (though so loosely that he successfully sued to have his name removed from the film), was a minor hit in 1992 with its tale of a simple-minded man (Jeff Fahey) who becomes an evil genius after being used as a guinea pig by VR researcher Dr Lawrence Angelo (Pierce Brosnan). But it has since come to be regarded as something of a cult classic, and as one of the first depictions in mass culture of the immersive three-dimensional medium known as virtual reality.
Though VR has been in development almost as long as cinema itself, and has existed in rudimentary forms since 1957, it is only in the past couple of years that it has emerged as a genuinely accessible form of communication and entertainment, thanks to mass-produced headsets.
Now the race is on to create content for these devices, which range in price from about $10 for Google’s Cardboard to many hundreds of dollars for Facebook’s Oculus and Sony’s Playstation VR.
The Lawnmower Man series is one of five commissions announced by VR content distributor Jaunt at the Sundance Film Festival late last week. It will be produced by Canadian company Triton Media Inc.
“The original movie was a film of unsurpassed imagination and creativity with its groundbreaking use of VR back in 1992,” said Triton’s Jim Howell, who co-owns the rights to the title with Triton founder Rupert Harvey.
“Together with Jaunt we look forward to a contemporary team bringing to life a whole new world of VR; a world of immersive entertainment and communication. We are very excited to be working with Jaunt to create a VR realisation of the film.”
The other projects announced by Jaunt are primarily in the sci-fi space, though Bad Trip, from Todd Strauss-Schulson, writer-director of A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, is an immersive six-part stoner comedy.
“VR is the future,” Strauss-Schulson said of the project. “It’s a fascinating new form of storytelling that can create a potent feeling state and a personal subjective experience. You know what else can do that? Drugs.
“Drugs have the power to create hilarious, pride-swallowing humiliations. I’m pumped to dive into the VR world where I can apply my visual ideas to this medium putting the viewer inside these hallucinatory rollercoaster rides.”
Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin
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