Twenty-something years ago I remember reading a piece about how Disney’s expensive gamble “The Rocketeer” had lost the studio quite a pretty penny, and as such they were cancelling plans to sequelize the 1991 adventure pic – despite the initial plans to make it their own Batman or Indiana Jones saga. And with that, Billy Campbell’s superhero dreams were put on hold, and a new instant classic – terrific little film it was – was unfairly outed as a studio bastard that nobody much wanted to own up to.
Now, not surprisingly (what with the trend in anything ‘comic’), Disney are returning to ‘The Rocketeer’.
The remake, shepherded by Disney big-wig Alan Horn, will reintroduce to the world pilot and jet-pack enthusiast Cliff Secord (Campbell’s role in the original). Only this time, I’m guessing, the studio will insist on a name to help put bums on seats rather than going for a relative newcomer like they did with Campbell – who, from memory, had only been in a couple of things at that stage (one of them this god-awful car-racing flick called “Checkered Flag” that I remember seeing on VHS. It’s more famous for it’s randy sex-scenes than racing cars, funnily enough.)
Interestingly enough, the original “Rocketeer” movie was directed by Joe Johnston, who went on to helm the slightly more successful superhero movie “Captain America”. Other notable alums involved in the picture included Jennifer Connelly, former 007 Timothy Dalton (As the villain), Alan Arkin, Terry O’Quinn (as Howard Hughes) and Paul Sorvino. I remember Rick Baker did some of the make-up work on it, and James Horner – pre “Titanic” – wrote the music compositions for it.
“Rocketeer”, despite it’s lacklustre box-office, remains a great family movie. I, for one, would much prefer to see a tardy “TRON-Legacy”-esque sequel than a darn remake, but I also understand the business mechanics of starting fresh here.