Canceled halfway through its first season after being given a lousy time slot and having its episode order shuffled like a blind man running a street corner three-card monte, Joss Whedon’s sci-fi/western hybrid Firefly has become the prolific writer and director’s most enduring creation. The show gained a massive cult following after the release of its sole truncated season on DVD in late 2003 resulting in Serenity, a big-screen continuation of the Firefly story that brought back the show’s principal cast and marked the feature directorial debut of Whedon, currently behind the camera on next summer’s The Avengers. But Serenity turned out to be a box office disappointment and plans for further sequels were scuttled, despite the movie’s strong DVD sales and renewed interest in the original Firefly series. Since the release of Serenity, Whedon’s creation has endured mostly in the printed form but fans have long pushed for the show’s return to television or the big screen. None of their efforts have been successful, until now.
British writer and director Rick McLeod recently revealed plans to film his own Firefly spin-off film. Working with American producers with plans to shoot the film in England’s Lake District, the movie, entitled Lost Transmission, will not feature any characters from Firefly or Serenity. Instead, the plot follows a new character named Blake, a mining ship captain who’s left with no one to talk to but his computer after a war breaks out on Earth. He soon leaves the planet in a quest to find life on other worlds. The film has been budgeted at one million dollars and production is scheduled to begin in 2012.
I wonder if the war in question is the one between the Alliance and the Independents (a.k.a. the Browncoats, the name also given to devoted fans of the franchise).
I’m not familiar with Mr. McLeod or his past work so I can’t say for sure how Lost Transmission is bound to turn out, but I have to say this news bothers me a bit. McLeod’s passion for the Firefly universe is without question very deep and I’m sure he has nothing but the best intentions for this movie. It’s just that Lost Transmission is shaping up to be an elaborate fan film that has little or nothing to do with the characters Joss Whedon created that fans of the show and the Serenity movie have grown to love, myself included, outside of a possible tenuous link to events that have happened in the continuity of the series. As I stated before, Lost Transmission will feature none of Whedon’s characters and none of the show’s cast members will be appearing in the new film in any respect. Since the heart and soul of Firefly and Serenity were always the characters, what’d be the point?
I wish Mr. McLeod and company the best of luck on this feature and I hope they have a mighty surprise in store for us Firefly/Serenity fans. As of yet Lost Transmission has no release date scheduled.
[Update: Apparently, this will NOT be set in the Firefly universe; the Gazette got the information wrong. See official statement below.]
Lost Transmission is an original science fiction movie. The Gazette article linked on io9.com erroneously said the film was “based on” Firefly, but as the concept’s author and the film’s director, I can say without qualification this is not accurate. All I ever told the journalist was that some of my inspirations came from various shows, including shows like Firefly, movies like Star Wars, and even video games like Elite. Sometimes reporters just write the story they want to. I have no permission from Fox to make a Firefly spinoff, and that’s not what Lost Transmission is. It is set in its own universe, with original characters, backstory, and names.