What happened to the singularity of Roland Emmerich’s failed blockbuster?
Love ’em or hate ’em director’s works Roland Emmerich are at least known. There’s a lot to poke fun at about the ridiculous storylines of 2012, Independence DayWhere Two days later, to name a few, but thanks to a combination of ubiquitous marketing campaigns and box office success, we’ve all heard of it. A film title also related to Emmerich is Singularity, although it is much less known. That’s because it’s the nickname given to an unmade blockbuster this filmmaker was once set to direct for release in May 2013. Even though you won’t see any posters for Singularity clogging up your movie theater walls anytime soon, that doesn’t mean there isn’t an intriguing story behind why it fell apart.
In June 2011, Sony Pictures purchased a pitch for a new Roland Emmerich film titled Singularity, starring Emmerich and Harald Kloser tapped to write the screenplay. Details about the project were scarce, but it was apparently meant to be told as part of Emmerich’s previous blockbusters. At the time, Sony’s takeover of the project made perfect sense given that the studio had released Emmerich’s then-recent gargantuan hit. 2012, which cracked $757 million worldwide. Back then the fifth biggest feature ever made worldwide for the studioit’s no wonder Sony/Columbia wants to stay part of the Roland Emmerich business.
In September 2011, Emmerich finally spoke about his plans for Singularity and revealed that, contrary to previous reports, this won’t be another one of his films where the entire world was demolished by CGI disasters. To describe Singularity, Emmerich called it “a totally different movie”. I just want to stay away from disaster for a bit because I think I’ve done enough,” before going on to say that he hoped to keep the basic plot a secret before moviegoers see it. In a time when spoilers are raging on the internet, Emmerich wanted to deliver something that people didn’t automatically know everything about before the spotlight started rolling.
In early November 2013, the first plot details began to unfold, with the film centering on a man made up of nanobots that grant him superpowers. This would explain the film’s title, as the term singularity often refers to a potential future where technology is endemic and inescapable. This revelation came as The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the actors were screen testing the film’s protagonist, Adam. Among those considered for the role were Logan Marshall-Green, Luke Grimesand Thomas McDonell.
However, none of these actors would have had the chance to headline an Emmerich-directed tentpole, as, a few weeks later, a massive setback occurred for Singularity, which previously set a release date of May 17, 2013. The start of principal photography would now be delayed so that the script could be fine-tuned. This is also where the film’s budget was revealed, with its $175 million price tag suggesting that, although Singularity wasn’t going to be a simple disaster movie, it wouldn’t lack expensive visual effects. With that kind of money at stake, it’s clear that everyone involved wanted to make sure Singularity was as good as it gets.
A few weeks after this development, a glimmer of potential emerged for Singularity when Sony/Columbia gave it a new release date of November 1, 2013. Six months later, however, Singularity faced another hurdle when it was dropped from the studio’s release schedule entirely. white house down would now not only take his place on the calendar but also the attention of Roland Emmerich. With this blockbuster veteran who focuses on Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx beat bad guys in the Oval Office, the initially minor postponement for Singularity was starting to feel like it could go on for an eternity.
2012 came and went without too many updates on Singularityalthough the director provided a notable update for the production in September 2013. At that time, the filmmaker seemed enthusiastic about The singularity chances of becoming a reality, noting that it was “on very, very good ground again” and stating that removing some subplots from the initial script made the feature much better. Although he concluded his remarks on this potential blockbuster by saying “I really want to do this movie”, new obstacles have arisen to keep Singularity to become a reality.
On the one hand, Emmerich was once again in love with another hit property, in this case, the long-awaited sequel to Independence Day. Once set for a July 2015 release before being delayed to June 2016, the responsibilities of overseeing such a massive production meant Emmerich wouldn’t be able to focus on a new blockbuster for a few years. It wouldn’t necessarily kill the project, however, especially as Emmerich had said earlier that year. ScreenCrush that he wanted to make Singularity his next film after the Independence Day following.
Unfortunately, that same year white house down had become a box office dud for Sony/Columbia. While that wouldn’t automatically erase all of Emmerich’s previous box office success, it did make it doubtful whether the studio would be willing to fund a totally original blockbuster from this filmmaker again. Interestingly, while the world waited Singularitya hint of that film made its way into what would become Independence Day: Resurgence. No nanobot-enhanced humans headlined the film’s script, but the depiction of an Earthbound human society guided heavily by futuristic robotic technology echoed. The singularity focus on what human life would be like if machines ruled the wheel.
Once Recurrence was released, Emmerich’s career and, by proxy, plans to Singularity, ran into trouble when this expensive sequel disappointed at the box office. As a result of this development, Emmerich began making his films with independent funding rather than making them for major American film studios. Although on paper this would allow him more creative freedom, adjusting to this new status quo means Emmerich has chosen to focus on other projects like Half-way Where moon fall rather than anything Singularity would look like in the modern world.
Then again, maybe Emmerich couldn’t even have done Singularity at Sony/Columbia even though he was still working for major American film studios. In the three years between white house down and Independence Day: Resurgence, Sony/Columbia underwent a major overhaul spurred by the Sony Pictures Hack of 2014. This includes the installation of new studio heads that dramatically changed the course of the studio’s blockbuster trajectory. Rather than making big-budget original properties, like Emmerich’s last two films or other projects like After Earth and ElysiumSony/Columbia would be pinning their hopes on new releases of old franchises like Jumanji. This new status quo at Sony/Columbia would leave little room for something like Singularity.
Through a combination of all these obstacles, Singularity was left on the fringes of history, destined to gather dust as a potential blockbuster from the master of disaster movie chaos. In the ultimate sign of Singularity falling by the wayside, Emmerich didn’t even mention it as a potential future project when asked by The Hollywood Reporter what he would do next moon falla stark contrast to the way he constantly struggled to Singularity when promoting Anonymous and white house down. Although once defined to be what a hero of the future might look like, Emmerich’s lack of modern enthusiasm for Singularity returned an unfinished project from the past.
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