MGM has acquired the rights to Richard Matheson’s classic sci-fi novel The Shrinking Man with the aim of bringing an updated version of the story that was first adapted on-screen as The Incredible Shrinking Man in 1957.
Matheson, who turns 87 later this month, will pen the screenplay with his son, Richard Matheson Jr., keeping the tone of the original story but updating it to modern times.
Matheson is an icon in the horror and fantasy world, responsible for works such as I Am Legend (last adapted into a 2007 Will Smith movie), classic Twilight Zone episodes ("Steel" was turned into the Hugh Jackman movie Real Steel) and Duel, one of Steven Spielberg’s earliest works.
The book, written when atomic-bomb fear ran high, centers on a man who is exposed to radiation and insecticide and begins to shrink. The Mathesons will modernize the story to reflect advancements such as nanotechnology.
Describing the new iteration as “an existential action movie,” the elder Matheson says, “My original story was a metaphor for how man’s place in the world was diminishing. That still holds today, where all these advancements that are going to save us will be our undoing.”
Universal held the rights to the book for decades, releasing the original movie and trying with Imagine Entertainment to come up with ways to bring a new adaptation to the big-screen. At one point, Eddie Murphy was attached to star as a magician who shrinks due to a spell. (In fact, the comedy aspect of this concept has surfaced in recent decades in such movies such as 1981’s The Incredible Shrinking Woman and 1989's Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, which was not based on the novel but certainly took cues from it. The new Shrinking Man will not be a comedy.)
The rights lapsed last summer and MGM quietly swooped in.
"The themes of The Shrinking Man continue to be relevant," says Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM's motion picture group. "And the Mathesons’ cutting-edge ideas for the adaptation will make for a great film that will play all over the world.”
“It’s one of those fantasy concepts that does not age,” echoes the elder Matheson, who continues to write. (He has a book titled Leave Yesterday Alone, due to come out later this year.)
Matheson will act as a producer on Shrinking Man with Matheson Jr. and Alan Gasmer via Matheson Entertainment. The company holds the rights to the combined works of Matheson and Matheson Jr, who also is an author and whose latest novel, Paranoia, is set for release later this year.
Director of development Matt Dines will oversee the project for MGM.