A film adaptation of the Paul Theroux novel The Mosquito Coast, directed by Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society) and producer Saul Zaentz (The English Patient), reached film audiences as early as the autumn of 1986. The story was as deep and profound as it was entertaining; A real “head thinker” we called these types of pictures. The story was simple enough: a disaffected American inventor uproots his family and pulls them into the jungles of Central America, his mind slowly sliding into the abyss. Tough stuff, but played by an ensemble that knew the terrain well when it came to difficult subjects: Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, the River Phoenix, Martha Plimpton, Conrad Roberts and Andre Gregory put their hearts and souls into this film. Of course, it was filled up when it was first released and didn’t find its audience on cable and home videos until later years.
And now, through the good offices of the fine folks at Variety, news comes that The Mosquito Coast is about to be remake, this time in the form of an ongoing series.
Apple has ordered a series remake of The Mosquito Coast to play lead actor Justin Theroux, who is himself the nephew of the writer of the novel on which the film and series are based, Paul Theroux. Neil Cross does the customization duties for this one and also takes on the dual role of showrunner for the series. Both Cross and Tom Bissell will write the pilot episode. Rupert Wyatt has been hired to direct multiple episodes as well as executive producer. Bob Bookman, Peter Jaysen and Alan Gasmer are also on the executive producing front.
Other notable names in the acting world cast for this endeavor include Gabriel Bateman, Melissa George, Logan Polish, Kimberly Elise, and Scotty Tovar. A release date has not yet been announced.
River Phoenix, years after the film was made, and at a time when he was highly acclaimed for such daring indie work as My Own Private Idaho, Silent Tongue and Dogfight, Mosquito Coast still cited Mosquito Coast as his favorite movie of his own Filmography. This comes from an actor with Phoenix’s power and gravitas. That is kudos indeed and, decades after the film was released, begs the question of whether the series will manage to get out of the shadows of its brothers on the big screen. Only time can tell.