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‘Explorers’: Cary Fukunaga and David Lowery Working on TV Pilot Based on the Joe Dante Film

Exclusive: Lowery explains to IndieWire why the pair was attracted to their adaptation of the 1985 Joe Dante film with the idea that one of them will direct the eventual pilot.

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Paramount/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5882422q)Ethan Hawke, River PhoenixExplorers - 1985Director: Joe DanteParamountUSAScene Still

Paramount/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Two of the busiest filmmakers working today just got a little bit busier: Cary Fukunaga and David Lowery are reportedly teaming to work on the pilot for a new adaptation of the Joe Dante film “Explorers.” The 1985 sci-fi feature was an early screen credit for both River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke, telling the story of a trio of friends who build a spaceship based on designs that one of them sees in a supernatural vision.

Deadline is reporting that the team will work on this new “Explorers” script, with one of the pair planning to direct the eventual pilot. “I’m a huge Joe Dante fan so just getting to play in his playground is really exciting,” Lowery told IndieWire. “There’s so much potential in the original concept. When Cary brought it up a few months back I was mostly just shocked it hadn’t already been done. It really felt like the perfect thing for us all to collaborate on.” For Lowery, the original “Explorers” consolidates several appealing cinematic experiences. “The beginning of the movie is like ‘Primer’ with kids, and the last scene is like ‘Boyhood,’ and somewhere in the middle is an opportunity for us to do our own thing with it,” he said.

“Explorers” was a box office flop when it first came out, in part because it was rushed into theaters for a July release and buried by the Live Aid telecast. Over the years, it has garnered a cult following. “The movie was a critical and commercial bomb,” Ethan Hawke told IndieWire in a conversation at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year. “It was a huge lesson for me about expectations.”

The schedule for production on the new series remains unclear, but Lowery told IndieWire that the project is “a little ways off.” Fukunaga is set to direct the installment in the James Bond franchise, while word came just yesterday that Lowery had reteamed with “A Ghost Story” distributor A24 for a new retelling of the classic mythological story of the Green Knight. Lowery is also attached to write and direct a new live-action version of “Peter Pan” at Disney after he finished production on the Green Knight project. “We’re figuring out the shape of it right now,” Lowery said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Fukunaga was a recent IndieWire Honors recipient, earning this year’s Auteur Award for his work on the Netflix series “Maniac,” which featured Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. Lowery worked on the CBS All Access series “Strange Angel” and just saw the release of his most recent feature, the Robert Redford-starring heist flick “The Old Man and the Gun.”

This isn’t the first time an “Explorers” reboot project has been announced. A 2014 effort to write a feature film modern update fell to Geoff Moore and Dave Posamentier, who were fresh off teaming up for their film “Better Living Through Chemistry.” Moore and Posamentier are now developing an hourlong fantasy drama of their own for ABC.

—Additional reporting by Eric Kohn

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