by: Donna Whitehead
We’re hearing that Mark Wahlberg will star in Universal Pictures’ film remake of the 1970s sci-fi TV series THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN. The story follows an astronaut, Steve Austin, whose body is rebuilt with cybernetic technology after a traumatic injury from an aircraft crash. We’re hearing that the film is also being retitled to keep up with inflation, and will now be The Six Billion Dollar Man. Peter Berg is attached to produce and possibly direct if the project comes together. Harvey Weinstein is also attached in some producing capacity.
It’s been a long road to the “Six Million Dollar Man” movie. Kevin Smith wrote a draft of a screenplay for it in the mid-90s, which he eventually turned into the comic book “The Bionic Man.” In 2003, Jim Carrey was attached to star in a comic take on the concept from writer-director Todd Phillips, but the project never materialized. And as early as 2006, original series star Richard Anderson confirmed that he was involved with plans for a “Six Million Dollar Man” remake, which was bogged down in negotiations between Universal, which owned the rights to the TV series, and Miramax, which owned the rights to the Martin Caidin novel, “Cyborg,” on which the series was based. (It appears that when Weinstein sold the company, he retained the rights to “Cyborg.”)
Nevertheless, the rights disputes seem to have been mostly worked out by 2011, when it was announced that Leonardo DiCaprio was in talks to star in the film, with Brian Singer directing. The screenplay of that iteration of the project was written by “Shrek Forever After” scribe Darren Lemke. Unfortunately, plans fell through once again–but apparently neither Universal nor Weinstein has lost the desire to bring “Six Million Dollar Man” to the big screen.
Berg and Wahlberg have worked together before, and quite recently, on the 2013 action film “Lone Survivor.” Berg has also directed a number of other big-budget action films, including “Battleship” and “Hancock.” Wahlberg, meanwhile, has just come off a starring role in “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” and is currently finishing up the upcoming thriller “The Gambler.”
The original series coined the iconic line, “We can rebuild him. We have the technology.” It also spawned a spin-off, “The Bionic Woman,” which was rebooted for a short-lived 2007 series starring Michelle Ryan. After almost 20 years trying to bring “The Six Million Dollar Man” to theaters, let’s hope this time’s the charm.