Update below from March 25, 2021…
“The Last Starfighter” has long been a personal favorite film of mine – so much so, that one of the first sight-seeing things that I did while living in the Los Angeles-area was to go visit the original trailer park location from the film.
When I was at the 25th Anniversary screening back in 2009 (see a full report and video clips here), the director mentioned that a draft had then-recently been completed for a sequel. What I would have given to get a look at that script…
His hint was that any sequel would need to focus on the child – or children – of the Last Starfighter, Alex Rogan. Rather than “The Last Starfighter 2,” one obvious title could be “Son of the Last Starfighter.”
During a recent re-watch of the original film, I found myself wondering about dangling plot threads that would be fertile ground for a sequel. Given that over twenty-five years had passed since the original film, some might no longer be as relevant as others.
- Alex’s younger brother Lewis was seen playing the Starfighter game at the end of the film. Was there any hope that, given some practice, Lewis might have become a credible starfighter himself? Were the qualities for a great starfighter something that might have run in the family? It would have been a bit forced to expect Lewis to have similar skills as Alex – much like how it is unrealistic to expect the brother of a star athlete to be a star himself. That said, some families do have many children who are all star athletes.
- The film’s main villain, Xur, escaped at the end of the film. His escape was obviously intended to factor into a sequel, but we’re really not sure what his next move might have been. It would be questionable to assume that the Kodan forces whom Xur had aligned himself with would have been interested in keeping him around. Then again, any Kodan warriors who might have ratted Xur’s bad decisions out had likely died when the command ship was destroyed. It was indicated that one of Alex’s priorities, if he kept on as a starfighter, would be to hunt down Xur.
- The Kodan armada featured in the film always struck me as not being very large. Then again, the starfighter forces weren’t exactly numerous either, given that they were almost all destroyed in a single attack on a single ship hanger. The presumption would be that there must be other Kodan forces still around to pose as a threat. One also had to wonder about alliances with other alien forces, both good and evil. The movie established that a diverse range of aliens existed around the universe, so there could surely have been other forces at work throughout the universe.
- And, most obviously: What happened with Alex and Maggie? Presumably they married and had a family, somewhere up in the stars. Alex seemed to be rushing to pick up Maggie and then get going, most likely to join in the hunt for Xur. Was there another mission about to unfold though? Hard to say, but the immediate events regarding what happened next would need to be explored.
There has been little news on a sequel since 2009. I have resigned myself to the reality that such a project was very unlikely to materialize. Then again, few expected “Tron” to have a sequel nearly thirty years later, so who knows? “The Last Starfighter” has had legs, with numerous home video releases, most recently on Blu-Ray. While it may have only been a modest theatrical hit, obviously the film has done well over the years as a catalog title. Like “Tron,” it has many admirers who grew up with the film and, perhaps, a similar franchise re-launch isn’t as crazy as it might seem. Here’s hoping…
Update 2014: “The Last Starfighter” celebrated the 30th Anniversary of its release on July 13, 2014, but there continued to be little to no news regarding a sequel. Los Angeles-based GPA Entertainment Inc. has claimed since 2008 to be developing a “Starfighter” project, but there has been no visible movement on that front. To be candid, the firm doesn’t look like it would necessarily have the track record to launch a project of the necessary scale.
Arguably, the sequel’s best chance of both getting made and of meeting fan expectations would be in the hands of a ‘hot’ director/producer who happened to be a fan of the film in their youth. I remain optimistic for such a scenario working itself out, if anything due to the continued need for entertainment firms to exploit existing properties. Even a couple of years ago, who would have ever imagined Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill reuniting in a “Return of the Jedi” sequel? From the perspective of passing the torch to a new generation while still involving some of the original cast, a sequel to “The Last Starfighter” remains a viable and tantalizing possibility.
Update 2015: The 31st anniversary of the release of “The Last Starfighter” brought some interesting news. There had been a story in fall of 2014 in which Seth Rogen confirmed having no luck in pursuing remake rights. He upped the stakes by saying that Steven Spielberg had previously tried to obtain the remake rights but was also not successful in that quest. Apparently the rights were held by writer Jonathan Betuel and he refused to do anything with them.
That situation changed in July of 2015, with Betuel striking a deal with entertainment startup Surreal.tv. A plan was announced to release something entitled “Starfighter Chronicles” as a virtual reality-enhanced television series. The series didn’t appear to be directly related to the original film though, with Betuel saying that it would be about ‘alien law enforcement.’ If the series actually goes into production and if the result is any good, all remains to be seen. Most longtime fans would probably prefer that series somehow keep the original film’s continuity, even if it doesn’t directly feature the original characters.
Update 2020: It has been five years since the “Starfighter Chronicles” announcement and… nothing ever happened. In October of 2020 there was a new Blu-Ray release of “The Last Starfighter” from Arrow that was a wonderful upgrade over the poor transfer featured in Universal’s 2009 25th anniversary edition. This Arrow version included new commentary tracks and other bonus content.
With the film again getting fresh publicity, writer Jonathan Betuel was interviewed about the status of a sequel. He seemed to roll back the idea of a television series and played up that plans would now be for a formal theatrical movie sequel. Back in 2018, Gary Whitta had mentioned working with Betuel on a sequel/reboot film (basically a passing-of-the-torch film of the kind that has been pretty commonplace with sequels to films from a generation ago). Whitta shared some concept art that looked good but that project had been silent until Betuel mentioned his work with Whitta in an October 2020 interview. This all seemed to relate to the same feature film project but details regarding how close the film was to actually getting into production remained sparse.
Update 2021: Betuel and Whitta kept some momentum going a few weeks into 2021 when they dropped a promotional ‘trailer’ for “The Last Starfighters” on the internet. It featured concept art edited together with a remix of Craig Safan’s score by composer Chris Tilton. The result was at least an interesting teaser. There’s little to go on from the art but it did feature Rylos, Gunstars (plural), and what appeared to be Alex with his Gunstar back at the trailer park. Perhaps not-unsurprisingly, as Zando-Zan seems to kick things off in some fashion.
The trailer pulled at nostalgic heartstrings for sure. Betuel and Whitta made some cryptic remarks saying that the project simply needed to be pushed ‘over the finish line’ to get production finally rolling. We’ve heard these sorts of things before but hopefully this is finally the time it happens.
Castle, Nick. The Last Starfighter. 1984. Film.
Kosinski, Joseph. TRON: Legacy. 2010. Film.
Lisberger, Steven. Tron. 1982. Film.