While instances of actors or directors deciding they’d like to flex their creative muscles by dabbling in music aren’t all that uncommon, it’s far rarer to see a composer taking on the challenge of filmmaking. But with an Oscar and about a dozen stone-cold classic scores to his credit, Michael Giacchino has all but conquered his own field, and so he’s now set his sights on a more varied test of his skill set.
A bulletin posted to Deadline last night announced that the man behind the indelible music to Pixar favorites and franchise blockbusters will soon make his feature-directing debut with a remake of the 1954 sci-fi B-picture par excellence Them!, modernized for the twenty-first century. Giacchino has already gotten his feet wet behind the camera, helming Marvel’s TV special Werewolf by Night last year, the black-and-white cinematography of which now looks something like a test run for his big solo project with Warner Bros.
The original Them! (advertised as an acronymic combination of Terror, Horror, Excitement, and Mystery) translated Atomic Age anxieties into a janky yet resourceful vision of invasion by hyperintelligent irradiated ants in the New Mexican desert. In a quote included in Deadline’s article, Giacchino recalls learning of the film’s political subtext in his boyhood years, and reasons that the updated version would focus on the American fear of immigrants.
As readers may know from having watched Director by Night, Anthony Giacchino’s straight-to-Disney-Plus featurette documentary about his brother’s first foray in the director’s chair, the pair spent their boyhood years cavorting about their New Jersey hometown with a Super 8 camera. (Anthony will also be involved with the production of nu-Them!.) So began a lifelong passion for movie magic that was back-burnered for years as Michael focused on the sonic side of things, now realized in full; this is no dilettante trying filmmaking on a lark.
Production is still in the earliest gestative stages, with Giacchino currently seeking a writer to draw up a script according to his concept. Lovers of midcentury creature features can only hope that his appreciation of the original will carry over into a new version that pays homage to the aesthetics and camp-adjacent tone of such high-grade schlock as the original.
Published 5 Jan 2023
By Sean Wilson
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