Before Richard Matheson’s death on the 23rd of June, 2013, he wrote many novels, short stories, and screenplays that have now been adapted for film and television. His science fiction and horror writing influenced and still influences many filmmakers and writers like Ridley Scott, Anne Rice, Steven Spielberg, and Stephen King. Although his best novel ‘I Am Legend‘ was not appropriately brought to the screen, Richard Matheson’s legacy as a creative author and screenwriter courageously delved into fearful art lives in Hollywood.
The Incredible Shrinking Man
Richard Matheson was contracted in 1956 by Universal-International Pictures to develop the script and expand on the short story ‘The Shrinking Man.’ It was the first screenplay by Matheson in what would become a long career in writing for films and television. Though the pre-production was slated to begin on April 20, 1956, it did not formally start till April 24, with a cast of mostly unknown actors including Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April Kent, Paul Langton, Raymond Bailey, William Schallert, Diana Darrin, and Billy Curtis.
‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ was released to the United States audience in April 1957, and it received mixed reviews. Originally, the test audience was unimpressed by the protagonist’s fate, but the director decided against changing it. The film grossed $1.43 million in the United States and Canada. It was also one of the highest-grossing science fiction films of the 1950s. It was produced by Abel Zurgsmith and directed by Jack Arnold, and the screenplay was by Allan Simmons and Richard Matheson.
‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ won a Golden Moon Award for Best Screenplay in 1957 and a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1958. In 2009, it was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry. Ian Nathan of ‘Empire’ described the film as a classic of 1950s science fiction films. He also commented on the way objects were transformed into terrifying things. A movie critic named Tim Lucas affirmed that the film “remains one of the perfectly realized science fiction films.” He noted that the movie was less about science and more about powerful examples of the ‘what if’ branch of speculative human drama.
I Am Legend
The development of the third adaptation of Richard Matheson’s massively influential book ‘I Am Legend‘ by Warner Bros. started in 1994 even though the production company had owned rights to the book since 1970. Mark Protosevich wrote the script. While the script was getting developed, several actors got contracted to star in the movie, including Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, with Francis Lawrence as director. Production finally began in 2006 with actor Will Smith as Robert Neville and Akiva Goldsman as a producer.
‘I Am Legend’ was released in the United States on December 14, 2007, to a mostly positive review. It starred Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Willow Smith, Darrell Foster, April Grace, Dash Mihok, and Joanna Numata. The film went on to gross $256 million from the United States audience, and $329 million internationally, for a total of $585 million. At the end of its theatrical run, ‘I Am Legend’ became the 7th highest-grossing film of 2007.
‘I Am Legend’ received several award nominations after its release, including four nominations at the Visual Effects Society awards, one nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble at the SAG Awards, two nominations for Outstanding Film and Actor at the Image Awards, and the Best Sound nomination at the Satellite Awards. In 2008, Will Smith won a Saturn Award for Best Actor. He also went on to win the MTV Movie Awards for Best Male Performance.
Based on ‘Steel,‘ a 1956 short story written by Richard Matheson, “Real Steel” is about a future where robots have replaced humans in the ring after human boxing is declared illegal. The screenplay was originally by Dan Gilroy, but then he sold it to DreamWorks. Director Shawn Levy was attached to the project in September 2009 and Hugh Jackman was cast in the starring role the following November. Production for the film started in 2010 with a budget of $110 million. Shawn Levy chose to shoot many scenes at State Fair and other similar settings to create nostalgic feelings in the viewers. Other “Real Steel” casts include Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Olga Fonda, Karl Yune, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis, and James Rebhorn.
‘Real Steel’ was released in September 2011 but did not premiere in the United States till October 2011. In North America, it made $8.5 million on its opening day, shooting it up to the number one position at the box office. By the end of its theatrical run, it had made $85.5 million in North America, and $213.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $299.3 million. The film had a widespread positive reception, with most critics praising its array of characters and compelling plot.
‘Real Steel’ received nominations from the Academy Awards and Saturn Awards for Best Visuals and Best Performance. It won the People’s Choice Award for Favourite Action Movie Star and the Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actor.
Somewhere In Time
This romance story and science fiction deviated a little from Richard Matheson’s literary features. The 1980 fantasy film was directed by Jeannot Szwarc and was a film adaptation of the 1975 novel ‘Bid Time Return’ by Matheson. It starred famous actors like Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Susan French, Christopher Plummer, and Teresa Wright.
Even though the film received approval during its previews, it received ridicule from critics when it was released. In 2009, during an interview with WGN America, Jane Seymour said “It was just a little movie…’The Blues Brothers’ came out the same week, and [Somewhere In Time] was a $4 million budget, so Universal didn’t support it. There was also an actors’ strike, so Chris [Reeve] and I weren’t allowed to publicize it. And they barely put it out because I don’t think anyone believed in it.”
Although the movie received many awards, including Best Costume, Best Music, and Best Fantasy Film at the Saturn Awards, it was described as ‘murky and underwritten’ by critics. In subsequent years, the movie started a cult, and several fans attended a yearly Somewhere In Time convention at The Grand Hotel, where the film was shot.
Did Richard Matheson contribute to the screenplay of ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ film?
Yes, he did. This 1997 science fiction movie directed by Jack Arnold was based on Richard Matheson’s ‘The Shrinking Man’ book. A story about the ordeals a certain Scott Carey experiences after he is unfortunate to be affected by a strange mist that envelops him. The screenplay was by Richard Matheson and Richard Alan Simmons.
What role did Warner Bros. play in the Production of ‘I Am Legend’ Movie?
In 1970, Warner Brothers owned the rights to ‘I Am Legend.’ However, the development of the book did not begin until 1994. When it eventually began, many directors and actors were assigned to the project. Production of the ‘I Am Legend’ movie fully began in 2006 in New York City,
Who originally wrote the screenplay of ‘Real Steel’ movie?
This movie about robots overthrowing humans in the boxing ring had its screenplay Initially written by Dan Gilroy. Later, it was bought by DreamWorks for $850,000. ‘Real Steel’ is an American science fiction sports movie that starred actors like Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand, and Hugh Jackman.
‘Somewhere In Time’ is an adaptation of what book?
‘Somewhere In Time’ is an adaptation of the 1975 book by Richard Matheson titled ‘Bid Time Return.’ Richard Matheson also wrote the screenplay. The movie tells the tale of a playwright from Chicago who uses self-hypnosis to travel back in time to meet an actress whose photograph he had fallen in love with.