I realize a statement of such magnitude requires some reassurance, so I’ll say it: bear with me here. Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici, fresh off profiling the continuing evolution of the Syfy Channel as an piece of the entertainment business landscape (specifically their combined television show and MMORPG Defiance), has another, unrelated bit of information that he gleaned from his experience at the channel.
With the merger between NBC and Vivendi Universal in 2004, the SyFy channel gained access to Universal’s properties, including Waterworld. And the reasons why a remake would make sense begins with: despite its name as one of the worst and most expensive movies of the 90s, whenever the film runs on Syfy, it gets a healthy viewership.
According to Bercovici, Syfy is looking to get into the theatrical film market, and understands that it’s not going to get there with Sharktopus. From Forbes:
“Having a theatrical film label is not only a natural fit for Syfy,” says Dave Howe, the network’s president. “It’s also a gap in the marketplace.” In Hollywood, “science fiction” is virtually synonymous with “megabudget CGI-laden summer action movie.” Howe and his team at Syfy saw an opportunity for a different kind of science fiction film, one driven less by expensive stars and special effects than by storytelling.
Howe’s team have been pushing the idea (of making low-budget films for theatrical release) to Universal for years, without much success. But apparently with a recent change of leadership at Universal, things are looking more likely, and Syfy is looking at scripts that might be that story-driven hit. Which may or may not include a remake of the infamous Waterworld. Howe says a television series based on the movie is more likely than a theatrical sequel. Either way, an attempt to actually make Waterworld into a work of nuance and a more, ah, genuinely enjoyable film (rather than the ironic classic it has sort of become) might be interesting to watch.