In one of the most depressing developments of the year, Legendary Entertainment, the company behind the so-called MonsterVerse, has announced plans to turn the History Channel series Ancient Aliens into an adventure movie, according to a report in The Hollywood Reporter. The film will be developed by Counterbalance Entertainment, the showrunners behind the Cobra Kai revival series.
Details of the project are being kept under wraps, but according to Legendary, the story “will be a two-handed, globe-spanning adventure featuring ancient sites and artifacts, confronting the theories and questions raised by the popular docuseries.”
Ancient Aliens began life as an adaptation of Erich von Däniken's ancient astronaut books, which asked such provocative questions as “Was the black race a failure and did the extraterrestrials change the genetic code by gene surgery and then programme a white or a yellow race?” It will, I suppose, be interesting to see how the movie will "confront" the theories and questions from the show that the Southern Poverty Law Center identified as racist in 2018.
The Ancient Aliens project will join Legendary's MonsterVerse, whose movies, such as the recent Godzilla vs. Kong, make use of the pseudoscientific hollow earth theory.
In theory a science fiction thriller based on the ancient astronaut theory shouldn't be any more harmful than a Godzilla movie. Compare, for example, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which didn't spawn an ancient astronaut revival until it inspired producer Kevin Burns to turn from making Indiana Jones tie-in shows to producing Ancient Aliens. That's because audiences saw Indiana Jones as fiction. But the experience of The Da Vinci Code teaches us that when a fictional story is marketed as based on a real history, no matter how fake, it will spawn interest in its false claims and convince a large segment of viewers that the false history is true.
The Ancient Aliens movie itself will probably be forgotten, but the marketing campaign that will elevate the TV show and its many claims could potentially do lasting damage.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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