Richard Matheson‘s 1954 novel I Am Legend has already been turned into three different movies of differing values, and despite years of trying to figure out a way to spin a follow-up to Francis Lawrence’s 2007 adaptation, Warner Bros. is now just doing away with all ideas of prequels and sequels and is just rebooting the entire damned thing. I believe that’s called “the old Hollywood college try.”
The thing is, they’re not even going with a piece of fiction that started its life as an I Am Legend movie. Warner is actually tasking screenwriter Gary Graham with rewriting his own screenplay, A Garden at the End of the World, to mesh with the I Am Legend mythos. Warner fought hard to acquire Graham’s spec script back in April, after he posted it on the Black List website and made waves. Graham was brought back to the studio to polish it up, but producers widened their minds and realized there were enough similarities between A Garden at the End of the World and I Am Legend that a retrofitting wasn’t out of the question. It must be fantastic for a writer to hear that his original work is just good enough to become the fourth iteration of something else.
This is all quite mystifying as, outside of its novel form, this story doesn’t really offer a lot of different narrative branching. Basically, I Am Legend is the tale of Robert Neville, seemingly the sole survivor of a worldwide plague of quasi-vampirism, and a man who adheres to a strict routine in order to keep his health and his sanity intact. Then everything goes wrong once the vampire threat in his immediate area begins to grow. Events in Graham’s script for A Garden at the End of the World are being kept under wraps, but the screenplay was originally described as a science fiction take on John Wayne’s The Searchers. Once you add Neville and vampires into that mix, it gets a little clearer what might be happening here.
Don’t expect Will Smith to show up here in any way, shape or form. He’s been out of the loop for a while, so that’s not a big surprise. The guy won’t even do Independence Day 2, so this was unlikely from the get-go.
Akiva Goldsman (Winter’s Tale) is back, though, to produce this one, along with James Lassiter, Joby Harold, Roy Lee, and Brooklyn Weaver. A lot of minds are at work on this thing, wanting to revisit the $586 million that I Am Legend earned in worldwide grosses. Can’t say I blame them on that front, although it’s going to be pretty insulting to a lot of Matheson’s fans if this gets trashed. The Last Man on Earth and Omega Man weren’t exact replicas of the novel either, so it’s not blasphemy to change the story a bit, so long as they do it properly. And this time, maybe they’ll get the ending right.
What do you guys think about I Am Also Now Again Legend, Legend, I Am, Presently Legend, or whatever they decide to call it?