In 1991, Disney released The Rocketeer to box office failure. It made $46.6 million domestically and came in fourth overall for its opening weekend (being beat out by films like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and City Slickers). As the years passed, it did what so many other failed movies have done: it became a cult classic. Now at conventions, it’s not uncommon to see multiple people dressing up as the titular hero, complete with the unmistakable helmet and double-breasted jacket. And that’s bound to continue because Disney is developing a reboot/sequel (or legacy sequel, in line with recent films like Mad Max: Fury Road and Creed) titled THE ROCKETEERS, with Max Winkler and Matt Spicer on board as scriptwriters.
This new film will be set six years after the original, placing it in the early 1950s. This setting gets even more interesting when you learn who our new Rocketeer will be: a young, female African-American pilot who dons the helmet in an attempt to stop corrupt rocket scientists during the Cold War. Everything about this premise is rife with possibility, from the discrimination our hero undoubtedly will face, to the endless intrigues the Cold War provides.
The original film, based on the comic by Dave Stevens, chronicled the tales of Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers a jetpack and becomes embroiled with the likes of Nazis, the FBI, and Howard Hughes, all against the backdrop of World War II. In the new film, Secord has disappeared — something that will surely be addressed in the new film. Billy Campbell played Secord, with a supporting cast consisting of Jennifer Connelly as his girlfriend, Timothy Dalton as the Nazi spy, and Alan Arkin as Secord’s mechanic.
Disney began entertaining the idea of a reboot around 2011, following the success of 2008’s Iron Man and a sold-out screening of the original Rocketeer at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood.
Brigham Taylor, who previously produced the successful Jungle Book live-action remake earlier this year, will be producing this film alongside Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers and Ryan Kalil of the Carolina Panthers. Tendo Nagenda and Chaz Salembier will oversee for Disney.
Winkler previously wrote the indie comedy The Ceremony, and has directed episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, and Fresh Off the Boat. His writing and producing partner, Spicer, has worked with him on Disney’s Magic Camp and Focus Features’ The Adventurer’s Handbook.
Anya Crittenton | Associate Editor
This news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.