Big screen is signpost up ahead


Could the eerie music of "The Twilight Zone" soon be playing again at the movies?

Warner Bros. and Leonardo DiCaprio's production company Appian Way are in the early stages of seeking material for a feature take on one or more episodes from the classic TV series.

The studio and production company are quietly putting out word to creators that they are looking for pitches and script ideas based on the show for feature development.

The companies are not seeking to remake an episodic movie, as the only big-screen version of the show did 25 years ago, but rather hope to build one continuing story line based on one or more episodes.

Warners owns rights to the Rod Serling-penned episodes, which comprise the bulk of its 1959-64 run. The Serling shows include famous episodes such as "To Serve Man," about giant aliens who land on Earth to serve humans as food, and "Eye of the Beholder," about an inverted society where the attractive are considered ugly. About 155 episodes of the original series exist.

Although Appian Way is not specifically known for sci-fi projects, "Twilight Zone" is said to be DiCaprio's favorite show.

Thanks to syndication — the show runs on Sci Fi Channel — and many pop-culture homages, "Twilight Zone" continues to have a devoted, if somewhat older-skewing, fan base nearly five decades after it left the airwaves.

In 1983, Warners released a four-segment film based on the series. Each segment was helmed by a different director — Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller and Steven Spielberg — with three of the segments remakes of classic episodes.

The movie drew modest boxoffice and was known mainly for the death of Vic Morrow and two child actors during production.

There have been other attempts at "Zone" updates, with CBS making a TV movie in 1994 based on several Serling episodes. And Summit is remaking the Richard Matheson-penned "Countdown," about astronauts who land on a planet only to find their dead bodies already there. (partialdiff)