Chuck Palahniuk‘s Survivor isn’t the most commercial concept for a film adaptation. For a long time now, a movie based on Palahniuk’s dark comedy has struggled to reach theaters, and back in 2007, Francis Lawrence was one of the filmmakers who gave it a shot. As the I Am Legend and Mockingjay director told us, the book is a difficult nut to crack, but he’s currently attempting to adapt it as a television series. Lawrence now has the option to the book again, and he is excited about it.
Survivor is a brisk read, but the story is arguably too sprawling and unconventional for a two-hour movie. The hit book follows the last surviving member of the Creedish Death Cult, Tender Branson, who hijacks a plane after becoming a leader and celebrity in the eyes of the world. That synopsis barely scratches the surface of the story, which has the signature Palahniuk tone at its most enjoyable and substantial. For Lawrence, it was the tone that proved challenging to adapt:
Let me tell you, I was attached years ago. Coming out of Constantine the producers we were working with got the rights to it. I was working with a friend to adapt a screenplay, but I never felt like we could crack it fully. I found that as I was trying to dive into the reality of the emotional journey these characters are on, I realized that the tone was getting lost. The Chuck Palahniuk tone and voice that drew me to the book was so important, so I didn’t want to lose it and was struggling. It kind of went away, those guys lost the option, then somebody else got it and tried to make it for TV.
Now, Lawrence continued, he’s got the rights:
Weirdly, no joke, we closed to get the rights. I now have the option again for “Survivor” that we got maybe about a month ago. It’s something I want to do as a TV show. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ve got an idea for how to do it as a TV show, and I’m talking to a writer now into adapting it and really staying true to the tone, keeping the satire and celebrity. The addiction to celebrity is so extremely relevant right now [Laughs]. I think it’s going to be really fun, and it’s one of the things I’m really, really excited about. I just got the option again.
Lawrence believes the right director could make Survivor work as a movie, but he sees it more as a long-form story. He already has ideas for the show, but he’s just getting started with it, so he’s can’t say too what he has in mind beyond hoping to capture the book’s tone and keeping things “really fun.” There are many, many stories to tell from the novel that maybe wouldn’t gel well together in a movie, but as a TV show, there’s room for all of Tender Branson’s bizarre journey and Palahniuk’s hijinks. Another one of the author’s books may go to television, too: Invisible Monsters, which Legion writer Jennifer Yale is adapting.
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