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80s Fans Take Note: ‘The Last Starfighter’ Sequel is Happening!

Nancy Bilyeau

Among the hit films of the 1980s is The Last Starfighter, a favorite among science-fiction fans in particular. Now these fans have something to celebrate with the news that a sequel is being put into development over three decades later.

In the 1984 film, video game expert Alex Rogan, “a small town boy with big time dreams,” finds himself transported to another planet after conquering The Last Starfighter video game, recruited to join the team of best starfighters to defend their world from attack.

Responding to interest shown in a batch of concept art he shared last year, writer Gary Whitta of Rogue One confirmed that he is developing a follow-up to The Last Starfighter with original writer Jonathan Beteul. “Beyond the concept art Whitta shared, nothing is yet known about the film, including how it will relate to the original story and whether or not it will feature any of the original cast,” reported IBT Times.

The Last Starfighter was one of the first CGI-heavy movies ever made, but its storyline also was a hit with moviegoers. IBT said, “The film’s influence on the sci-fi landscape has been significant, both in its extensive use of early computer-generated special-effects and its creative storytelling. Its ‘video games as recruiting tool’ plot point can still be found in recent releases, like Hulu’s Future Man and Ernest Cline’s novel Armada, which is also due to receive of film adaptation.”

Image from The Last Starlighter. Photo by GabboT CC by 2.0

Image from The Last Starlighter. Photo by GabboT CC by 2.0

Lance Guest played the engaging protagonist Alex Rogan, with other cast members including Robert Preston and Dan O’Herlihy.

Roger Ebert wrote in his review, “Those arcade video games had to come from somewhere, and The Last Starfighter has an interesting theory to explain why they seemed to pop up all over the world, almost overnight. They came from outer space. Just as I’ve always suspected. That’s right, they were put on Earth by representatives of the Star League, who use them as testing devices. If you break a record on a video game, they come and get you and turn you into an intergalactic fighter pilot. Meanwhile, your place on Earth is taken by a robot.”

According to Nerdist, “The film’s ending was practically begging for a followup, considering the state of the Frontier, Xur’s escape, and Alex’s younger brother Louis beginning his own ‘training.’ ”

Whitta has penned the scripts for The Book of Eli and After Earth, besides being one of the writers of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He is also currently working on a film adaptation of Hugh Howey’s novel, Wool, and a biopic of British stage magician Jasper Maskelyne, who employed massive illusions and deceptions to aide the Allies in WWI, reported IBT.

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Whitta told Geek Tyrant, “Jonathan Betuel created and wrote the original movie, it was all his idea, a spec script he wrote while he was working as a waiter in Hollywood in the early ’80s. There was a whole bidding war over that script. In all the years hence, whenever I’ve brought up the idea of a Starfighter reboot in meetings, people would always convey excitement and then say that it’s impossible because the rights are a mess… I happened to track Jon down, and after I was done pestering him with all my fanboy questions about the original film we started to talk about what a new version might look like. Since then we’ve spent so many hours working on it I’ve long since lost count, but right now we have a fully developed story that is a combination of reboot and sequel that we both think honors the legacy of the original film while passing the torch to a new generation. We’re both very excited about it creatively.”