David Yates, the director responsible for four of the Harry Potter films, has signed up to direct a big budget Doctor Who movie for the BBC. Further details are sketchy, but current TV star Matt Smith is reportedly in line for the lead role.
Yates has told Daily Variety (link has ad first) that he is working on the film with Jane Tranter, BBC Worldwide’s L.A.-based exec VP of programming and production, and that it will take two or three years to get the script sorted. He also acknowledges that the basic premise of Doctor Who will require some work to make it fit for the big screen.
Because of the rules regarding BBC funding, the storyline of the film will have to be independent of the TV series. That’s because viewers of the TV show, which is funded largely by the licence fee, can’t be forced to pay to see a movie in order to be able to enjoy the show. Yates and Tranter are reportedly planning a re-invention of the brand, so the movie might not fit into the TV show’s continuity at all.
This won’t be the first Doctor Who movie. In the 60s, two Dalek-focused films were made starring Peter Cushing as a rather different type of Doctor. Those films are generally not considered part of the Doctor Who canon (though some disagree!). In 1996, a TV movie was made in Canada for the American market, starring Paul McGann, but didn’t perform well enough to get picked up for a full series.
As well as rumours of Matt Smith’s involvement, there are also claims that former Doctor David Tennant could be called upon, or that an entirely new Doctor, separate from the TV show, could be cast. Assuming that the film comes out in 2013 (the TV show’s 50th anniversary year) or 2014, it’s likely that Smith will have moved on and the show will be onto its 12th leading man (or lady).