How a Battlestar Galactica Movie Can Work

With X-Men’s Simon Kinberg attached, the prospects of a Battlestar Galactica movie look more likely than ever. Here is what we might be able to expect.

Battlestar Galactica Movie
Photo: NBCUniversal

When Jim Halpert mimicked Dwight Schrute’s personality on The Office, he did so by addressing the three most important “B’s” in Dwight’s life: Bears, Beets, and I Can’t Believe They’re Going to Let the Writer of Dark Phoenix Write the Battlestar Galactica Movie. 

Yes, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Simon Kinberg has signed on to write and produce the long-gestating Battlestar Galactica film. Kinberg is best known for his work writing and/or producing all of the X-Men movies after Bryan Singer left the franchise in X2. He will join Dylan Clark as a producer

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Battlestar Galactica is one of the holy grails in science fiction, and I couldn’t be more excited about bringing something new to the franchise, while honoring what’s made it so iconic and enduring,” said Kinberg in a statement. “I’m so grateful that Dylan and my partners at Universal have trusted me with this incredible universe.”

Whether this is good news for the eventual quality of the Battlestar Galactica movie remains to be seen. Kinberg’s work on X-Men ranges from the very good (X-Men: First Class), to the very bad (Dark Phoenix), to the “why would you cover Oscar Isaac’s face in blue makeup like that?” (X-Men: Apocalypse). But what’s clear here is that this is news news. This is the most compelling evidence yet that a Battlestar Galactica movie might really happen.

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Rumors of a Battlestar Galactica movie have persisted for years, beginning shortly after the reboot concluded its four season run in 2009. Given that nothing has come from these rumors, it’s often been easy to dismiss the idea of adapting the classic ‘70s sci-fi series and its excellent 2000s reboot as a longshot. Directors have come and gone quickly from the property with both the aforementioned Singer and Francis Lawrence attached in the “will supposedly direct but probably not” spot. 

But the involvement of Kinberg as a writer marks the beginning of a new era in Battlestar Galactica speculation. This concept will actually soon have a script…and one written by a big-name writer whose services probably cost Universal a pretty penny at that. In an post-COVID era (should such a thing ever come to pass), it will likely be more important than ever for studios to spend their money on sure things. With a passionate fanbase from two different eras, Battlestar Galactica is pretty close to a sure thing.

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The original Battlestar Galactica TV series premiered in 1978 and was an endearing yet hokey sci-fi yarn seeking to capitalize on the arrival of the Star Wars phenomenon. It was canceled after only 24 episodes yet developed a devoted cult following over the years. In 2004, Ronald D. Moore developed a reboot for Syfy (Then Sci-Fi Channel) that was quite simply one of the best pieces of science fiction adventure to ever air on television. It took the original series’ concept of the human race on the run from robotic enemies called Cylons and adapted it for the post 9/11 world. Since then Battlestar Galactica has developed into a modest little media empire, with the only medium left unconquered being cinema. 

Now a BSG movie has its best shot yet to actually come to fruition. We can debate all we want whether this is a wise choice, given that the 2000s reboot was likely as close to perfect as this concept will ever get. But of course, we all want them to leave our childhood alone and they never will. With Kinberg, attached as writer, the time has come to for hardcore Battlestar movie skeptics to enter a coping period. If this thing is going to happen: how can it possibly be good?

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The first step is for Kinberg to decide which era of the show he wants to adapt. While the original certainly has its own chromatic charms, the reboot built a more effective and more creatively exploitable world. It’s likely that the BSG movie will continue to mine this. With that in mind, a sequel is likely out of the question, given the nature of that series’ ending … unless Kinberg intends to set the movie on 2009 Earth as people play with their Roombas.

This means that the most likely route for the BSG movie to take is a full-on reboot, which isn’t too bad to consider. The concept at Battlestar Galactica’s core is so strong and so interesting that it’s kind of amazing that the original wasn’t better to begin with. This is quite simply a story of survival. Mankind has once again been decimated by (what else?) its own creations. The Twelve Colonies have been destroyed and all that’s left is a meager spacefaring fleet full of tens of thousands of people along with one Battlestar to defend them.

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The desperation, fear, and existential angst at the center of that story is more than sturdy enough to hold up a new interpretation of it. And while it may seem like a fool’s errand to condense 75 episodes of television into one movie, there are some other important factors to consider. For starters, Universal almost certainly doesn’t plan for this to be just one movie. What is the blockbuster filmmaking landscape right now if not a series of episodes leading up to one grand conclusion? Where I come from (the ‘90s), we call that television. 

Then there’s the reality that Battlestar Galactica, the series, was very much a product of its episodic-centric times. It’s easy to forget now that Netflix has normalized dramas as “XX-hour long movies” but in the not-so-distant past seasons of television were lengthy and discursive, filled with hours that some might call filler (though they’d be wrong).

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In any case, stripped of several characters and side quests, the elements at play for a BSG movie are pretty intriguing. It’s the story of a dwindling population of heroes racing across the universe, trying to avoid the evil that they helped create. That’s Battlestar Galactica…and also Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. Though plenty of fans have issues with the latter, it still grossed $1.321 billion at the box office and is starting to look even better after whatever it is The Rise of Skywalker was supposed to be.

There are comforting signs out there of a potentially good Battlestar Galactica movie. Or perhaps it will be a travesty. Either way, with Simon Kinberg now attached, the important thing is to accept that this thing just might actually happen this time. Now … what that means for Sam Esmail’s announced BSG reboot at Peacock remains to be seen.