Flash Gordon: Taika Waititi’s Animated Movie Is Now Live-Action

Taika Waititi's animated Flash Gordon project is being reworked into a live-action feature. While promoting Disney's latest film Jungle Cruise, producer John Davis shared that Waititi has changed his approach to his sci-fi adaptation of the influential comic strip.

"[The 1980 Flash Gordon] is one of [Waititi's] favorite movies," Davis told Collider. "He initially said to me, 'Let's do it animated.' I said, 'Okay.' Then we got into it and started developing it and he said, 'No, let's do it live-action.' I said, 'Even better.'"

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Waititi has spoken about his adoration for the 1980 adaptation of Flash Gordon before. While guesting on Joe and Anthony Russo's Instagram series Pizza Film School, Waititi cited the Sam J. Jones-starring space opera as one of the primary influences for his 2017 Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok.

While Waititi has a busy schedule ahead between the upcoming release of his soccer comedy Next Goal Wins and post-production work on Thor: Love and Thunder, Davis is confident that the director will return to Flash Gordon sooner rather than later, citing how involved Waititi is with the project already.

"[Waititi] is writing it. So when somebody writes a script that they're going to direct, they're obviously going to really like the script, right? So you get a big leg up, right?" Davis said. "We've been through the development process, not the writing process, but he's laid out in great detail the characters, the movie, the way in, what it's about, the tone, all of that stuff... Look, he does a lot of movies, right? Believe it or not, he can do a couple of movies a year."

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Flash Gordon began as a Depression-era comic strip that followed the adventures of polo player Flash Gordon and his struggle against Ming the Merciless, the tyrannical ruler of planet Mongo. While the 1980 adaptation performed poorly at the box office, the film has since found a cult following. A live-action Flash Gordon television series also had a one-season run on Syfy (then known as Sci Fi) from 2007 to 2008.

Hollywood has been attempting to mount a Flash Gordon feature for several years now, with Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn and Overlord director Julius Avery attached at different points. Waititi was tapped to develop an adaptation in 2019.

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J. Kim Murphy is a freelance entertainment writer.

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