Three years ago when we last reported on the slowly developing Dead Space movie, the situation was that there was a director - DJ Caruso - but no screenplay. Fast-forward to today, and the situation has apparently reversed. There's no Caruso anymore, but Dead Space is still in development as a film at its Electronic Arts home, and it does now have a script by Philip Gelatt (Europa Report), which the company likes enough to take onward through further drafts.
EA's decision to bring the project back in-house seems to stem from having one eye on UbiSoft, which is similarly working up film adaptations of Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon and so on. EA's first crack at the development process, Scott Waugh's car-chase movie Need For Speed, has recently wrapped shooting in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dead Space will prove a very different beast however. Where Need For Speed is basically able to be an entirely original movie since the games have no stories to crib from, Dead Space has to face the challenge of the games being deliberately evocative of films we've seen before. Justin Marks, who's developing Dead Space for EA, says it would be very easy to find yourself "making Event Horizon or Alien, and I've already seen those movies." So the trick is to find an angle that's "new and intriguing". Caruso said much the same thing back in 2010.
Dead Space, for those who've not put themselves through that particular ordeal, is a shooter game taking place on a mining ship infested by zombies ("Necromorphs", if you will). The trouble starts when something is brought onto the ship from a mysterious planet, and the game's plot-thrust sees the player piecing together what happened. In amongst the killing and being scared and having to switch off the console and make some nice calm tea. Protagonist Isaac Clarke did more Necromorph-bashing in two sequels, and there have also been tie-in novels and a prequel animation.
"Prequel" was also the direction of Caruso's thoughts back in the day, but whether that remains the agenda under EA's renewed aegis is unclear. Neal Moritz is among the producers, but it sounds as if Dead Space is still a long way off a start date.
Need For Speed, starring Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper, is out next March.