Ben Stiller is returning to feature film directing with an adaptation of the 1960s television series “The Champions,” which will star the comedian opposite Cate Blanchett. Stiller is also producing the project through his Red Hour Productions. Additional producers include Brian Oliver and Bradley Fischer of New Republic, plus Blanchett, Andrew Upton, and Coco Francini of Dirty Films. ITV Studios America is also backing the project.
Per an official synopsis: “After a plane carrying three UN agents crashes in the Himalayas, ‘The Champions’ follows the agents as they are rescued by an advanced civilization secretly living in Tibet who grant them enhanced intellectual and physical abilities. When the agents return to the outside world, they use their new superhuman powers to become Champions of Law, Order, and Justice.”
“‘Champions’ is a long forgotten gem that will excite a new generation in the same strange and magnificent way that the original series spoke to us,” Blanchett said in a statement on behalf of Dirty Films. “I’ve long wanted to work with Ben — the director and the actor. He is one of the most engaged and versatile directors working today. Anyone who can make both ‘Zoolander’ and ‘Escape at Dannemora’ is a creative force to be reckoned with.”
Added Stiller, “I’m a huge fan of Cate’s for a very long time. I’m hoping this project will help people to finally take her seriously as an actress.”
“New Republic Pictures is thrilled to be teaming up with Ben Stiller and Cate Blanchett — an irresistible cinematic spy duo if ever there were one — along with our friends at ITV and Dirty Films, as we reimagine ITV’s fun and iconic 1960’s espionage franchise, ‘The Champions.’ Literally can’t wait,” said New Republic President Fischer.
Stiller has not directed a feature film since the 2016 release of “Zoolander 2.” In the meantime, the actor-director pivoted to television by helming Showtime’s 2018 Emmy-winning limited series “Escape at Dannemora.” He’s currently in post-production on the Apple TV+ drama series “Severance,” a workplace thriller starring Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, Britt Lower, John Turturro, and Christopher Walken, among others. Stiller is also attached to direct Focus Features’ “Bag Man,” based on Rachel Maddow’s Peabody Award-winning podcast, and “London,” an adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s short story set to star Oscar Isaac and feature a script from Eric Roth.
Blanchett is currently in production on “Little Children” and “In the Bedroom” director Todd Field’s new movie “TAR,” which she started filming after wrapping a role in Eli Roth’s video game adaptation “Borderlands.” The Oscar winner appears in two upcoming holiday movie season tentpoles: Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” and Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up.”