With Apple expected to unveil its video streaming service in less than two weeks, the company is continuing to develop a seriously ambitious slate of original programming, showing a willingness to not just develop entirely new shows, but to take risks by tackling epic and legendary storylines and hoping to succeed where others have failed.
One such project is Apple’s attempt to create a TV adaptation of Terry Gilliam’s 1981 cult classic, Time Bandits. While the deal with Apple was announced last summer, little else was known about the project. Now, according to Variety, Apple has signed on acclaimed director Taika Waititi to oversee the development of the new series. Hailing from New Zealand, Waititi was the force behind two top-grossing films in that country before later directing the Marvel superhero film “Thor: Ragnarok” in 2017. Waititi has also recently been announced as part of a team of several directors for the upcoming Disney+ Star Wars series, The Mandalorian.
The original Time Bandits film is a zany and slightly kitschy romp through time and space, telling the story of Kevin, an English schoolboy who discovers his particular wardrobe contains not a portal to Narnia, but rather a time hole. A group of six dwarves appear in Kevin’s wardrobe and drag him into a series of adventures across history, from ancient Greece to Napoleonic times as they run from the Supreme Being with a stolen time-map.
Like many early eighties sci-fi epics, Time Bandits quickly became a cult phenomenon, in no small part due to a star-studded cast that included John Cleese, Sean Connery, Ian Holm, and David Warner. It’s still unclear exactly what Apple plans to do with it — it’s being co-produced by Paramount TV and Anonymous Content, the latter of which is also behind a new Emily Dickinson series and a Climate Change drama — but Gilliam himself has signed on as one of the executive producers, suggesting that it will remain at least somewhat true to his original vision.
In addition to directing, Waititi will also reportedly be co-writing the pilot episode as well as joining Gilliam as executive producer alongside producer Dan Halsted. Nothing has been announced yet in terms of who will be starring in the series, but there are hopes that Apple will find a similarly well-known cast to at least provide a few recognizable cameos.
Apple currently has over a dozen TV shows in development, and that only includes the ones we know about. Ongoing projects include the company’s first big-name acquisition of a morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, a thriller by M. Night Shyamalan, a comedy starring Kristin Wiig, and an attempt to create a TV series based on Isaac Asimov’s legendary Foundation Trilogy. Last week, the company also announced a new CIA drama series that will star Brie Larson of “Captain Marvel” fame.
Apple sent out an invite yesterday for its highly-anticipated March 25 event, with the title “It’s Show Time” basically confirming prior rumours that the company will be debuting its video streaming service, with a list of VIP Hollywood guests also expected to be in attendance. While it’s almost a given that Apple is going to show off the new service at that event, it’s still less clear when it will actually be available, and which of Apple’s many ongoing original productions will be available at launch time, so there will likely still be a few surprises come March 25.