Press release from Pendragon Pictures:
WAR OF THE WORLDS THE TRUE STORY follows the eyewitness account of Bertie Wells, the last living survivor of the Earth/Mars War that took place in the year 1900, as he struggles to find his wife amidst the destruction of humankind at the hands of terrifying alien invaders. Like FORREST GUMP, WAR OF THE WORLDS THE TRUE STORY uses cutting-edge visual effects to blend a modern cast with battalions of actual fighting soldiers, golden age movie stars, and previously undisclosed images of tentacled alien creatures and their monstrous machines of war.
Based on the most beloved sci-fi novel of all time by H.G. Wells, the movie is the result of a 15-year journey by Director Timothy Hines, Producers Susan Goforth, Donovan Le and a close knit group of artistic collaborators to bring the novel to the big screen. Starting as a $42-million production in 2001, Hines had submitted screenplays to and was in talks with the representatives of Charlize Theron and Michael Caine when the events of September 11th put the movie into turn around due to its themes about disaster.
Hines retooled the screenplay and filmed the movie in its original turn of the century setting and released it in 2005. Though the 2005 version earned $7 million the movie received mixed to negative reviews. Hines was his own worst critic. “The movie was rushed and unfinished,” Hines says. The director was deeply unsatisfied.
He spent the next two years going back to the source, studying the history of the story. What drew Hines’ attention was that THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, written by H. G. Wells, was first published as a series of newspaper articles in 1897, as if they were a factual, on-the-scene newswriter’s account of the invasion. The series bound into the book, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, was an instant, cherished best seller and continued to sell many millions of copies over the next 100 years.
Then Hines turned his focus to Halloween Eve, October 30, 1938, when Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre broadcast WAR OF THE WORLDS on the radio as a series of news bulletins. The result caused listeners to believe an actual alien invasion was occurring. Six million listeners heard the broadcast and nearly three million were genuinely alarmed. There was a firestorm of debate and public focus about the panic. Panic that inspired the U.S. government to keep UFO evidence from the public.
It hit Hines that the elements the book and the radio versions shared was the authenticity of them being presented as news reporting. He decided to make a new movie version of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS as if the whole world knows there was a war between Earth and Mars in 1900 and it is part of this world’s history. Based on discovered interviews with the last living survivor of the Earth’s first recorded interplanetary war, the story unfolds with rich detail as it recounts the history of a world determined to own its birth right in the face of certain doom.
Amongst the talented cast, the role of Ogilvy, the astronomer that discovered the first Martian landing site, is played by Jack Clay. Mr. Clay is Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington, studied under Lee Strasberg and has trained many famous actors, including Stephen Tobolowsky (Ned Ryerson, GROUNDHOG DAY), and Academy Award winner Kathy Bates who recently did a piece on TWO AND A HALF MEN as Charlie Harper’s Ghost. Having guided generations of actors to successful careers, this is Jack Clay's only on-screen acting performance.
Pendragon’s release plans are in response to the quickly changing movie distribution landscape. Producer Susan Goforth says, “The movie needs to be in theaters for those who want that large experience. And the realities of the industry are changing for independent picture companies. The movie industry is going through the birthing pains of digital transformation that the music industry went through a decade ago. So we worked out a business model that gives people a chance to see the first ever and most spectacular alien invasion story on the big screen, Wells’ darkest vision of human passion and sacrifice in the face of interplanetary war.”
Producer Donovan Le adds, “We are doing what Clint Eastwood did with Malpaso, Robert Rodriquez did with Los Hooligans, Peter Jackson did with Wingnut Films. All artists who took charge of their picture’s distribution.”
For Hines it’s all about the experience of viewing. “I enjoy watching some movies on my phone,” says Hines, “But for WAR OF THE WORLDS THE TRUE STORY, a movie with ten story high walking machines destroying the Earth, it plays best in theaters.”