“We can rebuild him” was the catchphrase of the 70s TV series ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ and Mark Wahlberg’s upcoming ‘The Six Billion Dollar Man’ hopes to rebuild this one-time mega hit into a modern day film franchise.  The adaptation has taken two big steps toward that goal.  First, the film’s release date has been announced as being December 22, 2017.  And second, it has landed a new director, Damián Szifrón, who wrote the screenplay. Previously, Peter Berg was attached to helm.  Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, and Bob Weinstein will produce.  Wahlberg will also portray the film’s titular hero, Steve Austin.

In a statement, the actor expressed:

“I’m thrilled to assemble ‘The Six Billion Dollar Man’for the big screen with the likes of Bob Weinstein and Damián Szifrón.  We look forward to creating a Steve Austin for the 21st century.”

Academy Award-nominated director (for the 2014 ‘Wild Tales’) Szifrón shared his enthusiasm:

“Writing the screenplay was such a fantastic ride and embarking on this journey with Mark, Bob, and Stephen to take this story to a whole new level is simply spectacular.  Growing up, these kind of films left an indelible mark on me and now it feels so good to be making one.”

Lee Majors as Steve Austin in the most famous episode of ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ in which he fought Big Foot… this better be in the movie!

‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ debuted as three made-for-TV movies in 1973 before becoming an ongoing series which ran from 1974-78.  The show was based on the 1972 novel ‘Cyborg’ by Martin Caidin, which reportedly also influenced the film’s screenplay.  Lee Majors played Steve Austin, an astronaut who was nearly fatally injured in an accident involving an experimental aircraft.  To save him, parts of his body are replaced with robotic parts costing six million dollars.

The show was a huge hit which spawned scores of merchandise, including one of the most iconic action figures of the era.  The doll had a robotic grip and a “peephole” eye that kids could look through to simulate the TV character’s super vision powers.  But, as ‘The 40 Year-Old Virgin’ taught us, the doll of his boss Oscar Goldman is FAR more valuable.  (And also, if you want to fall in love, you have to sell all your collectibles.  Dislike.)

A spin-off, ‘The Bionic Woman’ debuted in 1976 and also lasted until ’78.  Both ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ and ‘The Bionic Woman’ returned in the late 80s in TV movies.

Bob Weinstein of The Weinstein Company, who are releasing the film, said:

“Damián’s unique vision and longtime passion for this story will usher in a new take on this series for a new generation. We are excited to release the film during the holidays to bring audiences an explosive reimagining of this cultural icon.”

(And sell toys.)

The movie is still a ways off.  Principle photography will begin in September 2016.

Reboots can be risky.  While nostalgia has fueled success for franchises like ‘Transformers’ (also with Wahlberg in the latest installment) and ’21 Jump Street’, others like ‘Robocop‘ have stumbled.  And adaptations based on older properties like ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ and ‘The Lone Ranger’ have bombed.  Is ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ from the 70s still a pop culture force powerful enough to draw modern film goers?

Are you excited about ‘The Six Billion Dollar Man?’

Sources: Entertainment Weekly, Cinema Blend