Although it never received the same kind of breakthrough success and recognition, Leigh Whannell’s 2018 film UPGRADE was merrily violent in the same sort of way as hits like Deadpool and Kick-Ass – owing not a little to the excellent physical acting skills of its lead Logan Marshall-Green, who brought real flair to playing a man possessed by a Siri-style artificial intelligence. Now, it’s been announced that the franchise will be revived for television, with Whannell and Tim Walsh as showrunners.
Per the press release on Deadline, the TV version starts “a few years after the events of the film” and will see the government using the artificial intelligence to crack down on crime. The project is still in its early days, but it’s already been announced that the writer’s room will feature Krystal Ziv Houghton and James Roland, best known for working on the second season of The Purge, which like UPGRADE is a Blumhouse TV production spun off from a Blumhouse film.
UPGRADE will represent Whannell’s TV debut, but as film goes he’s been a Blumhouse mainstay for some time, turning out healthy box office successes like this year’s The Invisible Man and the Insidious franchise – having previously been best-known for co-creating the Saw franchise, and writing the first three films of that venerable long-runner. Not surprisingly given those credits, he’s mainly been thought of as specifically a horror director, but the cheerful goriness of UPGRADE isn’t too far, content-wise, from the more splattery kind of horror film that Saw brought into vogue.
A film becoming a TV show is not the downgrade it once was – and the concept fits in nicely with other recent one-guy-against-the-world, cartoonily violent television productions like Happy! and Barry. However, given that many pointed to Marshall-Green as the strongest part of the original, the suggestion that the show will be introducing a new lead isn’t the best of news. Still, with Whannell remaining at the helm as both showrunner and director, his first priority will likely be to find a replacement who is at least as good.
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