Spy Hunter finally on its way to the big screen

Warner Bros. has green lit the development of the long-dormant classic video game adaptation.

Spy Hunter is one of my favorite arcade games from the Early 80’s. There was not much of a plot, basically it was a Galaga-type shooter set on a highway instead of up in space. The player controls a sports car with guns – the G-6155 – tasked with catching

up and destroying a number of enemy vehicles. The screen moves at a steady pace, and the player can move up, down, left, and right on the road, as it speeds past, similar to the controls of many racing games at the time. The car was upgradable, so the player could get better guns, cool gadgets, and even turn into a boat along the way. I have no idea how many quarters I sank into the sit-down cabinet they had at my local arcade, but I’m sure it was in the hundreds, at least. I don’t think I ever made it to an ending, though.

My favorite part was probably the great music. It was a repeating midi of only about 30 seconds, but I found it very catchy, and it would end up in my head for days. Though modernized a bit, this song from last year’s remake of the game comes pretty close to the tune I remember.

A decade ago, Universal bought the rights to a Spy Hunter film, and set the flick on the road to development. They hired John Woo to helm the film, and Woo brought on Dwayne Johnson (still known as “The Rock” back then) to star. The film languished in development hell until both Johnson and Woo backed out, and then finally, after ten years, the studio lost its opportunity to make the film.

Now that Universal’s hold on the film rights have expired, however, Warner Bros. has picked it up, and have already brought a new director in to lead the project. Ruben Fleisher, director of Gangster Squad and Zombieland, is at the helm this time. This week, the studio has announced that they’ve given Fleisher the go ahead to develop his plans for the film.

When Universal held the property, the synopsis they released was something about terrorism and the literal hunting down of spies on the road, but I expect that Fleisher will have the entire script rewritten, if he even has access to the one Universal was toying with, which is unlikely.

Hopefully the film doesn’t get trapped in development hell again. There are no expected production or release dates yet announced for Spy Hunter, and it’s too early in the development process to even speculate. No casting decisions have yet been announced. The next step we hear about will probably be the hiring of a screenwriter.