Director Bryan Barber is nothing if not ambitious. Following his feature film debut with 2006’s Idlewild, Barber tried in vein for the next few years to get behind the camera on a major motion picture. Most recently, he spent $50,000 on a presentation for Fox trying to win The Wolverine job. After being turned down yet again (though Fox reimbursed him for the expenses), Barber decided to go after the rights to a potential franchise property himself: Gigantor. Based on the 1956 Japanese anime Tetsujin 28-go the American animated series debuted in 1964. The story, set in the incredibly futuristic year 2000, centers on a 12-year-old boy who gains the control of a large flying robot named Gigantor. Hit the jump for more details.
Discouraged by the lack of faith most major studios had in him directing a big-budget picture, Deadline reports that Barber tracked down the rights to Gigantor for himself. Control of the series was held by 86-year old Fred Ladd, the voiceover artist who recut the Japanese cartoons and supplied English-language dialogue for the American version. After courting Ladd, Barber gained the movie, merchandising, and video game rights to the Gigantor franchise.
Barber describes his $60 million live-action version as Transformers meets Goonies:
“There’s a film here that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with heart and visual effects, about a super weapon that falls into the hands of a kid who develops the confidence to use the robot to save the world.”
Much the same as Tate Taylor did with The Help and Frank Darabont did with The Shawshank Redemption, Barber will go out to studios with the rights and a 6-minute sizzle reel in tow in order to shop the project for financing. Whatever your opinion of Idlewild or Gigantor, you’ve gotta give Barber credit for his gumption. Now that he holds the rights to the property, he ensures that any studio that wishes to produce the film will allow him to direct the project himself. Based on the ridiculous popularity of Transformers, and the family-friendly merchandising potential of Gigantor, it’s pretty safe to say that someone somewhere will make this project happen.
Here are the opening credits to the American TV show: