Ben Stiller will be directing, producing and starring in a feature adaptation of The Champions, the British TV series from the late ’60s.
Cate Blanchett is also set to star and produce the film, which will be coming from Blanchett’s Dirty Films banner, Stiller’s Red Hour Productions, ITV Studios America, and New Republic Pictures.
The 1968 espionage thriller/sci-fi series (30 episodes, originally broadcast in the U.K. on ITV) told of three United Nations law enforcement agents that experience a plane crash in the Himalayas during their first mission as a team. They are rescued by an advanced civilisation living secretly in the mountains of Tibet. These people not only save their lives, but also give them enhanced abilities such as telepathy, precognition, and other powers that enable them to reach the fullest extent of their capabilities. They return with powers to take down those that threaten world peace.
“I’m a huge fan of Cate’s for a very long time,” said Stiller in a statement, quipping, “I’m hoping this project will help people to finally take her seriously as an actress.”
Said Blanchett: “Champions is a long-forgotten gem that will excite a new generation in the same strange and magnificent way that the original series spoke to us. I’ve long wanted to work with Ben – the director and the actor. He is one of the most engaged and versatile directors working today. Anyone who can make both Zoolander and Escape at Dannemora is a creative force to be reckoned with.”
A Champions movie has been circling development for a few years now. Guillermo del Toro was set to write, direct, and produce an adaptation of the series for United Artists back in 2007, when Tom Cruise was working at the studio as co-owner.
The next Stiller project we’ll see is Apple workplace thriller series Severence, which he directed all six episodes for and stars Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, and Christopher Walken, among others. Stiller’s previous features as director: Reality Bites, The Cable Guy, Zoolander, Tropic Thunder, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Zoolander 2.
Here’s a look back at the trailer for the first episode of The Champions: