Monday, June 25, 2012

Harry Potter Director to Bring Doctor Who to the Big Screen?

Because you can never have too many Harry Potter-Doctor Who crossovers

Doctor Who fans the world over are eagerly awaiting the return of their favorite Gallifreyan time traveler come this Fall. But it would appear that bow-tie wearing, floppy-haired Matt Smith, who portrays the latest incarnation of the Doctor, might not be the only one set to man the big blue box. Director David Yates has announced his intention to helm a project to bring the Doctor Who franchise from the small screen to the big screen. Whether the series will maintain its quality over the transition is up for speculation.

Yates remains confident that the transition will be a successful one, largely due to the strength of the source material. “The notion of the time-travelling Time Lord is such a strong one, because you can express story and drama in any dimension or time,” says Yates. Exactly what this story will be, no one, except perhaps Yates and those working for Yates, knows. During one interview Yates stated that “[Doctor Who] needs quite a radical transformation to avoid major copyright issues take it into the bigger arena” and that the movie was to be started “from scratch.” Unsurprisingly, this news was met with protest by many of Doctor Who’s most loyal devotees who viewed the statement as confirmation that the movie would not feature the current television incarnation of the Doctor or follow the television show’s canon. Regardless of the issue of canon, one must wonder at what exactly Yates means by “from scratch.” Is he implying that the movie would be a prequel focusing on the Doctor’s origin story or does he mean that the franchise itself would be reset in some way?

It will be called "Doctor Who Begins"

One fact which is unsettling is that neither Russell T. Davies nor Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s two most prominent writers, appear to hold any connection with the project: “Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat have done their own transformations, which were fantastic, but we have to put that aside,” says Yates. Moffat has seemingly denied the existence of the project altogether. In one interview Moffat said “If, and when, the movie happens it will need to star television's Doctor Who — and there's only ever one of those at a time. And it would need to come out of the same production operation that makes the series . . . Doctor Who is a vitally important BBC brand with a huge international audience and not even Hollywood can start this one from scratch. So sorry if there's been any confusion, but on the plus side it has reminded us all what an exciting prospect this could be.” This statement, especially the bit about how “[no one] can start [Doctor Who] from scratch,” runs counter to statements made by Yates regarding the project. Perhaps this disparity could be chalked up to the fact that Moffat remains disconnected from Yate’s project, whether it actually exists or not. One possible reading of the situation could be that Yates does, in fact, intend to film a Doctor Who movie at some point but that the movie has not yet undergone even the earliest stages of production and may not do so in the near future.

Or, you know, this guy

Let’s assume in the meantime that the Doctor Who movie is a part of reality and not merely a figment of Yate’s imagination. One important question is: If not Davies or Moffat, then who would write the Doctor Who movie? One likely contender would be screenwriter Steve Kloves, who has collaborated with Yates in the past. But, of course, the question on most people’s minds is that of who would portray the Doctor himself. A current favorite for the role is Johnny Depp, who Smith says “would be a great Doctor.” Other potential candidates include Colin Firth, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, or Jason Isaacs.

But in the end Yates himself, not any writers or actors, would need to be relied upon to make the project work initially. David Tennant, who played the Tenth and arguably most popular incarnation of the Doctor, believes Yates has the potential to make it work. When asked about the possibility of a Doctor Who movie headed by Yates, Tennant said that "something of good quality will always triumph. I don't know enough about it to form an opinion but David Yates is a very talented man." One could point to Yates’ adaptation of another famously acclaimed British series, namely Harry Potter, as proof of this. Yates directed the final four Harry Potter movies in a manner which some thought gave the series a great deal of change in style for the better. With this in mind, maybe Yates holds the potential to do the same for Doctor Who. But unless the TARDIS suddenly becomes available for commercial use, fans will not be able to see if Yates can pull it off until approximately 2015.


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