Kubrick considered making a Warhammer 40K film?


Kubrick on the set of '2001: A Space Odyssey.' Keith Hamshere/Getty

I'm a Kubrick fan. I think "2001: A Space Odyssey" stands as one of cinema's greatest achievements and is largely unchallenged for best sci-fi film of all time. I'm also a Warhammer 40K enthusiast. I paint the figures. I own a copy of "Space Hulk." Heck, I've managed to blog a couple of times about the science of Tyranid Genestealers.

But Kubrick and Warhammer 40K together? For all its epic grim-dark splendor, the world of 4oK is very much a geektastic amalgam of influences. Surely I'd be ridiculous to imagine Stanley Kubrick entering into the gothic space opera universe of the 41st millennium.

(Image via Rouge Heresy)

Not so, according to British author Ian Watson. As he relates on his blog, Watson's growing reputation as an imaginative sci-fi writer landed him a dream gig in the early 1990s: working with Stanley Kubrick on an adaptation of the short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long." As you might remember, this unrealized project eventually became Steven Spielberg's 2001 film "A.I. Artificial Intelligence."

At the time, Watson had just finished writing the novel "Inquisitor" (now known as "Draco"), one of the earliest Warhammer 40k novels. Ever hungry for ideas and influences, Kubrick request a pre-publication copy of the novel. Watson even arranged for Games Workshop to send the director some game samples and some illustrations by Ian Miller.

According to Watson, Kubrick expressed interest:

"Who knows, Ian?" he mused. "Maybe this is my next movie?"

Now, Watson never suggests that Kubrick seriously considered a Warhammer 40K film. The legendary director merely explored all possibilities and was ever eager to explore new material.

But what if the stars had aligned on this project? I've not read "Draco," but I understand it to be a bit more complex than the average 40k novel, as well as appallingly bleak.* What might have Kubrick made of an insane sci-fi universe where even the "good guys" embody the worst aspects of humanity to ensure its survival?

* I have, however, read Dan Abnett's Einsenhorn trilogy, which could make for a fun bit of cinema in the right hands.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.