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Hollywood's Growing Obsession With Philip K. Dick 244

bowman9991 writes "Even after Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly, Total Recall, Minority Report, Paycheck, Impostor, and Next, it appears Hollywood's lust for movies based on Philip K. Dick material continues. The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and Terence Stamp, is the latest, and features some classic Dick themes, including the fragile nature of reality and a fight against a world controlled and manipulated by powerful unseen entities. When Congressman David Norris meets the love of his life after a political defeat, he must peel back the layers of reality to discover why a mysterious group is so desperate to make sure they never meet again. He is up against the agents of fate itself — the men of The Adjustment Bureau. The Adjustment Bureau adaptation follows news that Terry Gilliam will adapt Dick's novel The World Jones Made, that Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said and Ubik are being adapted, and that a remake of Total Recall is being developed by the ironically named Original Films Studio."
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Hollywood's Growing Obsession With Philip K. Dick

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  • by Plunky ( 929104 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:28AM (#31816644)

    According to the author's Trust's site, you're missing a few:

    So basically, Dick is dead and can't object, and the Trust is monetising his heritage while they still can because the clock is ticking..

  • Wrong. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (blameme)> on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:29AM (#31816654) Homepage Journal

    Hollywood has made money off of his material, so they're eager to go back to the well. The good news, thus far at least, is that the material they're using is actually well-written.

    Nothing out of the ordinary here, IMO.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:30AM (#31816666)

    That's the one I really want to see ! It could become a classic movie, if done correctly.

  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:31AM (#31816670) Journal

    How about some hard sci-fi on the big screen, for a effing change? Honestly, aliens that copulate with black hookers and live in a ghetto, or Dance with the Volves on another Planet just didn't do it, for me. Neither did Total Recall, for that matter. Take some of Stephen Baxter's opus - hopefully not even Hollywood can screw up that!

    For me, the epitome of sci-fi filmography was The Andromeda Strain (the original one, of course). Plenty of creativity, yet pretty hard sci-fi (coupled with believable acting/good directing) and no flying thumbs from the bottom of a reactor.

  • Short Stories (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Port1080 ( 515567 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:35AM (#31816696) Homepage

    Dick's stories are perfect for film adaptation because they tend to be short - either short stories or novellas. His longest novels are still very short compared to most of what gets published today in the sci-fi genre. Short stories are easier to adapt to film - you generally have to cut a lot out of a novel to make it fit into a two hour movie, but short stories translate to a script more easily. Dick's stories also tend to have the kind of plot twists and the potential for action sequences that Hollywood favors, and he's well known and has a fairly big cult following. There are tons and tons of good sci-fi short stories out there, but very few of their authors are as well known as PKD. Combine all that together and they're a natural choice for adaptation.

  • Must Be Monday (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:37AM (#31816718)

    ... along with a dearth [] of stories []

    That should read "along with a wealth of stories."

  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:37AM (#31816722)
    I think you're giving Hollywood way too much credit for caring about the artistic merits of their work. The simple fact is someone made money off a movie based on one of Dick's books, so now everyone that wants a movie made knows if they can say it's based on his work they're much more likely to get funded. The people who bankroll movies love to minimize risk, and at this point Philip K. Dick is a proven winner. What's likely to happen is a string of mediocre to awful films based on his work until the whole thing peters out and filmmakers find some other property they can make several movies from. It's not a coincidence that multiple movies based on a certain type or genre or author tend to come out within a couple of years of each's just filmmakers knowing what's hot at the moment and getting on the gravy train while they can.
  • by thijsh ( 910751 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:39AM (#31816750) Journal
    Yeah, the Andromeda Strain was awesome! It was also the debut of the great (and sadly late) Michael Crichton on the silver screen, and he has written many entertaining books and movie scripts after that.
    I loved the sets they used in the original, the same hallway painted in different colors to indicate another level inside the contained structure... There was definitely some good acting, and the suspense was heightened by the awesome soundtrack... And they left the origin of the strain kinda in the middle (although the new movie had a mildly interesting sci-fi-ish plot with a wormhole from the future... it felt a little too much Star Trek).
  • by lyinhart ( 1352173 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:40AM (#31816756)

    So basically, Dick is dead and can't object, and the Trust is monetising his heritage while they still can because the clock is ticking..

    Considering that old franchises like The Lord of the Rings and even Sherlock Holmes are still making money for their rights holders thanks to copyright extensions, that would be a slow ticking clock.

  • Re:awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:40AM (#31816758) Homepage Journal

    Woo, Terry Gilliam's in charge? Then we can look forward to a movie 10 years late,

    I waited thirty years to see Lord of the Rings. Patience is a virtue.

    substantially overbudget,

    Why should I care?

    yet still looks half-done.

    The Gilliam movies I've seen are Time Bandidts, Twelve Monkeys, and Brazil*. I fail to see how any of those movies "look half done."

    * not counting the Monty Python movies, but they didn't "look half done" either, except perhaps Holy Grail, shich was supposed to look like it did.

  • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:46AM (#31816820)

    Hollywood is obsessed with secret, powerful, out-of-control, quasi-government agencies because Hollywood is a secret, powerful, out-of-control, quasi-government organization. They are obsessed with destroying the finances and lives of thousands of random people in order to obtain and retain control of the cultural and emotional mental frameworks of most people in the developed world.

      This fascination with the themes of Phillip K. Dick is only a reflection of their own neurotic narcissism.


  • by Big Smirk ( 692056 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:47AM (#31816832)

    Not because the movie was spectacular. But because of what many (most/all) missed.

    When the technicians are putting Quaid under for the vacation implant with the 'secret agent' option - one of the techs chuckles "Mars with a blue sky"

    I guess I'll have to read Phillip K Dick's book to see if that was the intention.

  • Yes, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Crash McBang ( 551190 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:48AM (#31816838)
    ... will they be done in 3D?
  • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:51AM (#31816868)

    if done correctly.

    Ah, the biggest problem with book to movie conversions. You can be true to form and simultaneously prosecute all the jews while making them out to be greedy coniving businessmen AND world-wide conspirators. Or you can ignore the multiple plot threads that never intertwine and simply go with one story. Or you can realize that all the characters are simply an excuse to portray a backdrop where Germany won WWII.

    And then there's the difficult question of how to end the movie. Self-insertion is tripe and you can't have the climax of the movie hinge on a fortune telling explaining that the world is a. And if you're going to change the ending of the movie, then you're going to have to change a few things leading up to it, and at that point you might as well get a writer to make you something that can be put on the screen.

    And shit like this is how we got "Total Recall", which shares about 4 words from the book: "mars" and "inserting false memories".

  • by Xelios ( 822510 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:53AM (#31816882)
    The problem with hard sci-fi is that it appeals to a niche audience only. This used to be ok, but nowadays studios want films to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Which, incidentally, is also why so many films that could have been amazing end up being pretty terrible. It doesn't help that sci-fi is generally expensive to produce, why spend all that money when the much cheaper standard-relationship-comedy-sequel ends up earning more?

    Not to say I wouldn't love to see more sci-fi or cyberpunk films. I'm not sure how you'd compress the Xeelee Sequence into a 2 hour movie (even if it's just a part of it), but I'd kill to see Takeshi Kovacs on the big screen.
  • No it hasn't (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:59AM (#31816960)

    In my opinion, the Science Fiction genre is tired and overdone in very predictable ways.

    That's because Gollyweird rarely makes a true science fiction.

    Most of their shit and it's mostly shit, are really horror movies set in space - they're really a slasher movie but with an alien doing the slashing - Aliens.

    Or they're just a rehash of Terrestrial plots and themes in "space" see Star Wars and Star Trek.

    And when they actually do make a movie by a SciFi master, they fuck it up.

    Now, Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) [] has the ability to do it. Whether the zipper heads in Hollywood will actually make a true science fiction movie is another story. There is hope, though, considering he got the money to do the Rings Trilogy.

    The rare good sci fi, such as Primer [] hardly gets any promotion.

  • by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:02AM (#31816988) Homepage

    ...predicting the future is the most powerful superpower of all.

    Nic Cage was arguably a superhero in Next because seeing 2 minutes into the future let him outmanouver bad guys and walk through machine gun bursts untouched. Seeing an hour into the future let Tom Cruise and the precogs eliminate murder. And seeing a whole day into the future in Paycheck let Ben Affleck save the world.

    Even Dick's novels don't feed the need; Push showed Dakota Fanning the most important of a bunch of psychic heroes because the seers are always a step ahead of you.

    Not that Dick was way out there with that; it was the most powerful spice-given power in Dune, and even George Lucas makes it a plot-steering device in Star Wars. Just the ability to see a fraction of a second into the future made 9-year-old Anakin a top race driver.

    (Funny coincidence: not long after the recent Star Wars movies came out, BBC did a special "Top Gear" about race driving and the host actually took Michael Schumacher into a bar and demonstrated Schumacher was no better than anybody else at the old trick of "catch the bill before I drop it through your fingers". He has the same physical reaction time as anybody else. Top drivers like Schumacher *anticipate* what's coming next - seeing into the future by the ordinary ability of the brain to model the world - and actually start reacting to things before they happen. Lucas is really pretty smart, just not so hot at dialogue.)

  • by Plunky ( 929104 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:02AM (#31817006)

    Considering that old franchises like The Lord of the Rings and even Sherlock Holmes are still making money for their rights holders thanks to copyright extensions, that would be a slow ticking clock.

    J.R.R.Tolkien died in 1973 so thats just over halfway into the post-death years of life+70, but Arthur Conan Doyle died in 1930 and his works are available at Project Gutenberg [] now. Philip K Dick died 28 years ago (1982) and he was never as popular as either of them, and is unlikely to get more popular as time goes by. Even 'Blade Runner' is rarely known as anything but a Ridley Scott or Harrison Ford film and that is probably the most well known derivation.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:06AM (#31817030) Journal
    hopefully not even Hollywood can screw up that!

    You underestimate the power of Hollywood.
  • by ircmaxell ( 1117387 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:07AM (#31817040) Homepage
    Yup... The same thing happened with Michael Crichton [] in the 90's... Jurrasic Park, Lost World (Although that was REALLY different from the book), Sphere, Congo, Rising Sun and Disclosure... It sort of extended into the 2000's with 2003's Timeline.
  • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:11AM (#31817092)

    If you look at Adjustment Team [], we see that it is in the public domain.

    As is The Variable Man [], The Golden Man [], The Last of the Masters [], Meddler [], Shell Game [], The Turning Wheel [] and possibly a number of other stories.

    But obviously this just proves, that without never ending copyright claims, the world will never see great art again.

  • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:31AM (#31817394) Journal
    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in 1930. Copyright extends crazily 70 years after the death of the author. That means that Sherlock Holmes entered public domain in 2000. Walt Disney died in 1966. Though some of his work were made before the last Sherlock Holmes stories, none of these will become public domain before 2036. Yeah. 2036. At this date, the cartoon that inspired Turing's suicide in 1954 (Snow White) will finally be considered part of history.

    Realize that there may be a human settlement on the moon before the cartoons broadcasted before WWII will be public domain.

    Realize that we only put a ridiculous proportion of these on digital form and that 99% of them are decaying in analog form. Consider how much cultural heritage is lost for the profit of so few people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:39AM (#31817534)
    Cool story bro.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:33AM (#31818346)

    Gilliam (and Burton for that matter) make wonderful fantasy worlds, but pacing, character development, and story continuity are not their strong suits. - j

  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:04PM (#31818786) Journal

    "What's next, KDawson submitting good stories?"

    OK, NOW you're just being silly!

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:24PM (#31819146)

    Yeah. 2036. At this date, the cartoon that inspired Turing's suicide in 1954 (Snow White) will finally be considered part of history.

    You think so? You *really* think so? 'Cause I don't. Disney will get yet another extension. The Mouse will never be public domain.

  • by The End Of Days ( 1243248 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:26PM (#31819186)

    What was wrong with Fear and Loathing?

  • by zoomshorts ( 137587 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @01:17PM (#31819918)

    EX POST FACTO ,that little nigger called Sonny Bono had NO idea about the law, and neither did his
    contemporaries. Niggers All!! Take that positive karma !!!!!!!

  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @01:51PM (#31820486) Homepage Journal

    To be fair, that's not an uncommon misunderstanding.

    First, Philip K. Dick never wrote a piece called "Blade Runner." A few of the major themes from his short story "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" were grabbed and incorporated into a completely different plot to make the movie "Blade Runner," but for the most part, "Blade Runner" isn't Phil Dick, and "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" was not made into a movie.

  • Re:Wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @01:51PM (#31820504) Homepage Journal

    I know Doom very well, thank you, and you're right about everything, except that "one of these was deeply thought out".

    And please note that I never said I prefer the story from the film.

"Indecision is the basis of flexibility" -- button at a Science Fiction convention.