Debunking the myth that all you need to get a movie made nowadays is a "found footage" gimmick or Kate Upton exploding in 3D, Redditor and two-time Jeopardy champion James Erwin (writing under the name Prufrock451) found himself with the amazing opportunity to help write a film version of a narrative he'd posted on the popular site. The story is, indeed, quite cinematic -- seven chapters chronicling a modern-day Marine Expeditionary Unit that travels back in time from their base in Kabu to ancient Rome, where they must battle Roman forces and figure out a way to return home.
Madhouse Entertainment's Adam Kolbrenner approached Erwin about adapting his story to the screen in September 2011, and the two worked together to hammer out a screenplay. Then, just one month later, Warner Bros. preemtively purchased the rights to the script.
The studio then decided the script needed a "fresh take," bringing on Apollo 18 screenwriter Brian Miller and relieving Erwin.
Erwin offered Reddit an update and shared his reaction to the changes.
"A new exec came on literally a week before the first draft was handed in," he explained, "and they added a new exec production team. So: absolutely unsurprising that they wanted a fresh take."
"Also standard procedure to have a completely fresh second draft," he added, "so the studio and the producers have a lot of ideas to pick and choose from as they push toward a final draft. This is a slow, collaborative process, and I knew all of that going in."
He explained that he's neither upset nor disappointed -- and also "not necessarily done." After all, a "[s]econd draft does not equal shooting script."
Nevertheless, he says he is "excited to see what Brian brings to the project."
In a 2011 interview, Erwin explained that he was on leave from his day job to work full-time as a screenwriter, but noted that he is "probably one of the few writers right now for whom screenwriting is a Plan B."
Tech site Techdirt wondered whether Reddit could make its own, competing version of the film. The site published an article in October that delves into whether, due to Reddit's licensing terms, Erwin may not have full ownership of the narrative posted to the site -- and thus may not have been able to grant Warner Bros. exclusive rights to the story.
"Either way," they wrote, "while I doubt it will happen, it certainly would be interesting and amusing to see what would happen if Reddit tried to license the same rights to a competing studio."