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In light of the release of the X-MEN movie I thought it would be appropriate to discuss a possible Gargoyles Live-Action Movie.
As most of you know, Disney/Touchstone has literally been developing this for years. So far with no success. But they're still plugging away at it and have hired a new screenwriter recently. I think the success of X-Men may help light a fire under them too.
But let me tell you a story. It was 1995. A Touchstone Executive named Todd Garner wanted to develop the Gargoyles series as a live-action feature. He was told he'd have to deal with Gary Krisel who, as President of Walt Disney TV Animation, had the property under his domain. Gary, in turn, strongly suggested that Todd develop the property with a couple of writers who were familiar with it: Greg Weisman & Michael Reaves. So Touchstone made a deal with Michael and I. We would be "co-producers" of the film. And they gave us a shot at writing the treatment, i.e. the outline for the story. We did that, more or less. Our approach was rejected, more or less, by Todd's bosses at Touchstone. Todd started us on a new approach. Then Gary Krisel announced he was leaving Disney. Very quickly, Michael and I were moved off the project. We're still "co-producers". But that means next-to-nothing. Todd's no longer at Touchstone. In fact, the projects gone through at least five executives I can think of and six writers that I know of. But I'm not exactly in the loop. Still I have a pleasant enough relationship with Jim Wedaa, who's working with the movie's attached producer. So I call him for updates periodically. He promises that if they ever get a script they like, they'll send it to me. I'm not holding my breath. But you never know.
Anyway, I thought it might be an interesting subject of discussion to reveal what Michael & I had planned for the movie. I feel safe revealing this, since I know it's not going to be used.
Keep in mind, we all felt that we needed to start the continuity over from scratch. The series (which was still in production at the time) would have it's own continuity. The movie continuity would exist in a kind of parallel universe. Hopefully, it would all be emotionally the same. But details would differ. We wanted to simplify the complex plotting a bit. (Not make it unintelligent, just clean it up a bit.) We wanted to leave room open for sequels. But we wanted to tell one GREAT story, as if we'd only ever get one shot.
That story would, more or less, be AWAKENING.
But we made some changes.
For starters, we put Macbeth in charge of Castle Wyvern. In one version he had the Magus by his side. In another, the Archmage. In yet a third, we made Macbeth himself a bit of a sorceror king. At any rate, Katharine became his daughter. I know this sounds treasonous. But doing this allowed us to simplify all sorts of backstory, and allowed us (at least in the nefarious backs of our minds) to plan for a Macbeth sequel. And an Avalon sequel with Katharine and the eggs.
We also were forced to ditch the notion of the Gargoyles not having names. There wasn't time to explore it unfortunately, and it is a complicated idea. Goliath remained Goliath. Demona was Angel. Lexington became Alexander (but still Lex for short). Hudson became "Mentor" in one draft. "Soldier" in another. And a fifth prominent character was Othello. Brooklyn, Bronx and Broadway had cameos in the eleventh century flashback that more-or-less opened the film.
Once we got to the present, we had Xanatos, Sevarius and Owen. They awaken three gargoyles: Goliath, Lex and Othello. They tell them that as far as they know these three are the only three that survived. Elisa is introduced, but she doesn't meet Goliath right away. She investigates a number of strange incidents and mysterious reports (with Matt's help and under Chavez's command). She discovers the secret of the Gargoyles over time. Then Elisa and Goliath both take time to learn to trust each other. The whole Cyberbiotics plot is there but simplified. Demona resurfaces and basically becomes the main villain in the movie. (In an earlier draft, we saved her to be a main villain in a sequel.) Othello doesn't fair too well in the present. (Thus setting up a possible Coldstone sequel.) Xanatos runs a whole series of tests on Goliath, (setting up a Thailog sequel). Goliath, Elisa and Lex manage to triumph over their opponents (which included Steel Clan Robots and Xanatos in his Gargoyle-Armor). In the epilogue, they find a cache of additional undestroyed gargoyles: Hudson/Mentor/Soldier, Brooklyn, Broadway and Bronx (and in one draft, Angel/Demona). The movie ends on a hopeful note as these new Gargs are awakened.
Obviously, I'm not attempting to tell a coherent story above, but to show you what our strategy was. We were going to start over. Use a clean, straightforward story. Focus on the KEY Goliath/Elisa relationship. Intro elements that could be used for sequels but didn't require you to already know history. And didn't distract from the single big story we were trying to tell in THIS movie. There'd be a lot of tasty tidbits for diehard fans of the show. But we'd still have a brand new story that a new audience could follow.
That was the plan.
Of course, I have no idea what Touchstone's current plan is. But no matter what they do, I'm rooting for the movie. Because that movie is the surest way for us to get the series back on the air.