‘Dark City’ Director Alex Proyas is Working on TV Version of the 1998 Cult Classic

‘Dark City’ Director Alex Proyas is Working on TV Version of the 1998 Cult Classic

Director Alex Proyas has a new short film, Mask of the Evil Apparition, set in the world of Dark City, his 1998 sci-fi neo-noir cult classic starring Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, and William Hurt. From now until August 19, said short film is available through Video on Demand, as one of the “Virtual Cinema” entries in this year’s Popcorn Frights Film Festival.

While promoting it, Proyas also revealed that he is working on a Dark City TV series.

Bloody Disgusting was able to preview a Q&A with Proyas as part of the virtual presentation for Mask of the Evil Apparition. In doing so, it snagged a quote from Proyas regarding this Dark City TV series that he has in development:

“Dark City right now is really an intriguing one to me because we’re developing a series, a Dark City series…which we’re in the very early stages [of] but I’m having to reanalyze in order to construct a new story. I’m having to go back and kind of jog my memory as to what we actually did and what I think worked and what I think didn’t work and reevaluate my own film, so that’s been a very interesting experience as well which I’ve not done before.”

Here’s what Proyas had to say about the original 1998 Dark City and its 2008 director’s cut:

“You know, it tested very poorly and I was forced to do certain things I didn’t agree with and we made good to a certain extent in the director’s cut. Because you couldn’t completely resalvage it. I mean the whole point of a director’s cut is the illusion that we resalvage what we’ve done originally. But you can never do that. Often it’s just impossible. In those days we shot on neg and the negs being cut. And its been cut in a certain way and it’s very, very hard to go right back to what you originally designed. So you do like a hodgepodge version of it. Certainly it’s closer to my original conception than the theatrical cut was, but it is still not exactly what my original conception was. You would have to go right back to dailies to do something like that.”

The Dark City Cinematic Universe

Dark City predated The Matrix by a year, and in addition to filming on some of the same sets in Australia (this, according to Roger Ebert, who highlighted it as one of his great movies), it dealt with some of the same unreality themes. The film was part of a batch of turn-of-the-millennium movies that inspired Christopher Nolan’s Inception, among other things.

For its part, Dark City drew inspiration from the likes of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Proyas was coming off The Crow when he made it and it has maintained a strong cult following over the years. Presently, he’s making his first foray back into “the Dark City cinematic universe,” as it’s now being billed, with Mask of the Evil Apparition. The official logline for this new short film is as follows:

A young woman with no memory searches a deserted nocturnal city looking for something or someone. Only problem is she can’t remember who or what. She encounters twin brothers who may be her salvation, but one of them warns her that the ‘Mysterious Ones,’ a nefarious group of clones, are after her. Another woman in disguise also offers to help, but can she be trusted?

There’s no love lost between Proyas and film critics; in a Facebook post, he once called them “diseased vultures pecking at the bones of a dying carcass.” We reported on that, as did the site Vulture and other scavengers of movie news, back in 2016. This was the week that Proyas’ last feature film, Gods of Egypt, hit theaters.

There was some whitewashing controversy surrounding that film and reviews were not generally kind. Our own Jacob Hall called Dark City a “legit science fiction masterpiece” and took a more balanced view of the Gods of Egypt furor, concluding his write-up about it by saying, “I hope Proyas doesn’t have to wait another seven years before he makes another movie.”

It’s been five and half years since then, and we haven’t heard much from Proyas. However, Dark City is one of his better-received efforts, and the prospect of revisiting that world is sure to make some fans curious.

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