Richard Fleischer, son of animator/producer Max Fleischer, was an American film director known for such films as The Narrow Margin (1952), Fantastic Voyage (1966), Soylent Green (1973) and The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire…
I know what you’re thinking… You’re kidding us, right? A leading Hollywood director somehow got hold of copies of the British magazine Look and Learn, loved its best-known feature, the story of an alien empire modelled by its creators on the Romans, and made a film of it?
Well, he would have, but as it turned out, the logistics of the project conspired against the veteran director.
Talking to media consultant and voice actor Peter Greenwood, who worked with Fleischer while in Hollywood in the 1980s and 90s, the director saw a copy of a Trigan Empire collection, and loved the whole concept, from the story’s original opening of an alien ship crashing on Earth and a linguist translating records found on board that reveal an incredible society and its history.
“I bought Fleischer the book,” Peter told downthetubes, “and he kept it in his library in spite of the project not happening. He was taken by the detailed art.
“It was always part of any film he did – attention to fantastic detail.”
No stranger to historical epic – The Vikings, made in 1958, was one of his early successes or fantasy adventure – his credits include Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Conan the Destroyer and Red Sonja – Fleischer was reportedly captivated by the story and began to investigate the possibility of producing a Trigan Empire film.
But sadly, after a couple of months it became apparent that it would probably need to employ every heavyweight action adventure-leaning actor in Hollywood at the time to make it work in the way he wanted, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. Synchronising the schedules of all this action talent proved impossible at the time.
As possible costs mounted, Greenwood relates Fleischer dropped the idea, despite his enthusiasm for the project and like many a Hollywood movie, The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire failed to get out of the starting blocks. Which is a shame, because if you’ve read the story (available as a 12-book collection, but be warned, it’s not cheap), you’ll know the strip, initially drawn by Don Lawrence and written by Mike Butterworth, is truly epic.
Perhaps we may yet see a film, however, now Rebellion Publishing, owners of 2000AD, own the rights to the strip. It’s certainly a project many downthetubes readers would pay good money to see.
• Who would you cast in a Trigan Empire film today? Why not comment below?
• The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire –the collection- is a deluxe series of twelve volumes, bringing you the 50 Trigan Empire episodes, which were drawn by Don Lawrence and written by Mike Butterworth. It’s available here from the Worlds of Don Lawrence web shop
[amazon_link asins=’B001T9YKZC,9088860254,0955159652,9073508916,085037104X’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’downthetubes’ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’b891520b-49d8-4fa4-a63b-4c7373af8632′]
The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire © Rebellion Publishing Ltd