‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said The Ticktock Man by Harlan Ellison is arguably one of the most beloved stories in science fiction literature. Set in a society where being late is, literally, a crime, it asks what it takes to rebel against regimented order. And now, apparently, it’s close to actually being produced.
If you’ve read the story, you know it’s inspired a lot of SF over the years, the most obvious being Terry Gillam’s Brazil. It’s also a story Harlan Ellison has fiercely protected over the years, like all his work. So who managed to crack that particular shell? J. Michael Stracyznski, according to Deadline:
Ellison has granted an option directly to J. Michael Straczynski, whose recent credits include World War Z, Thor, the TV series Babylon 5 and Sense8.
How did Straczynski do it? He had to deliver a finished screenplay to Ellison… Only then did Ellison grant the option.
If this news sounds familiar, that’s because Stracyznski first “optioned” this story three years ago. Back then, the script went out to producers, directors, and studios, all of whom apparently decided to pass. What makes this go-round different is that Stracyznski has his own studio shingle now, and people have actually given him money to make a movie.
If it ever gets made, it might be an amazing feature film, especially if they get somebody with the right sense of humor and visual sense. Stracyznski is apparently approaching Peter Jackson and Guillermo Del Toro, which is largely an empty gesture because we guarantee you that J. Michael Stracyznski will wind up in the director’s chair. This might wind up becoming a fan film with an actual budget.
Secondly, well, it’s Harlan Ellison. This is a guy who, when he’s not busy turning out brilliant fiction, is busy suing everybody who might have been remotely inspired by something he wrote or just generally acting like an intolerable jackass. We’re sure he’ll find some way to ruin this for everybody.
So, essentially, either this will disappear for another three years, or it will actually get made by somebody who worships Harlan Ellison. We’re not really sure which is the better option.