Greg Russo is a scriptwriter building a name for himself with high-concept video game adaptations. We’re about to see his take on Mortal Kombat when it releases April 23rd. As that release is ramping up, he’s beginning to talk more about his future projects, including an adpatation of the classic 1978 arcade game, Space Invaders. Hearing that, you might be safe to assume the script is mostly going to write itself. The game doesn’t have a complex storyline, but it’s easy enough to follow: alien invasion. We’ve seen those movies, we know what happens. But not so fast, according to Greg Russo. He loves the game and he’s looking to make his script something special.
As part of an interview with We Got This Covered, writer Greg Russo said that his Space Invaders script isn’t going to be anything like Independence Day. He added, “I said, ‘I don’t want to do the invasion movie I’ve seen 100 times.’ And so for me, it was about finding a new way into that title, which I think is going to really blow people away expectations-wise and they’re going to see something that hopefully they weren’t expecting.”
Of course, as Russo wants to bend our expectations, that means he isn’t telling us what the movie will be. To be fair, he is also still working on the script, so it is subject to change. The writer has talked about how he grew up as a fan of these games that he is now adapting. That gives him a unique viewpoint to make an adaptation since a fan of the game has a different understanding of what other fans might want to see in a movie. Still, how will he turn Space Invaders into something that isn’t just an invasion movie?
The game launched in 1978 and was a fairly simple concept. There is a line of aliens descending upon you. You are a first-person fixed shooter at the bottom of the screen. You move horizontally to shoot them all before they reach the bottom of the screen. That sounds exactly like the setup for an alien invasion movie.
Pulling some more inspirational sources for the script, we can look at what inspired the gamemaker themself. Tomohiro Nishikado said in an interview that they grew up with The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, and that is why there is an octopus as the monster in the final level of Space Invaders. Does that mean we might expect to see Lovecraftian octopus alien monsters? Something like we saw in Lovecraft Country? One can hope.
Greg Russo first signed on to write Space Invaders in the summer of 2019. He’s also working on adapting the video game franchise Saints Row. His work has people particularly excited. He seems to genuinely love video games and the idea of adapting them into films. This is a rare trait. So many video game adaptations have disappointed fans. This has led many to be wary of them. Seeing a fan of video games dedicated to turning them into great films gives audiences a great deal of hope, especially when so many people are revving up Russo’s work already. One critic has already tweeted about Mortal Kombat to say that it actually made them want to play the game, which is a high achievement for a video game film today.
Will Space Invaders see octopus aliens in the sky? For a shooter game adaptation, how will the writer turn this into anything other than an alien invasion story? How will he meet the expectations of fans while also going one step further, as he intends to? He may be a marketing genius because the promise of “something you don’t expect” is just enough to make audiences desperate to find out the answers.