It all began in 1982 when the film BLADE RUNNER, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Darryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer was released. Although critically acclaimed at the time it took many years for BLADE RUNNER to make a tidy profit. Based on PKD's novel DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? this movie is still one of the best adaptations of PKD's stories to cinema. Philp K. Dick himself was fortunate to see the early stages of this movie although he did not live long enough to see it in general release.
BLADE RUNNER was followed in 1990 by the scoffed at at the time Arnold Schwartznegger vehicle TOTAL RECALL. This movie was based on PKD's short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" and, these many years later, it is now seen as a competent and actually quite good movie.
The French, realising a good thing was beginning with these PKD story adaptations, next got into the act with a film version of PKD's novel CONFESSIONS OF A CRAP ARTIST. This film, directed by Jerome Boivin, was titled CONFESSIONS D'UN BARJO and was released in 1992.
1995 saw the middle-budget thriller SCREAMERS, starring Peter Weller, hit the big screen. Mostly disregarded at the time this movie (based on PKD's escellent short story "Second Variety") is now a popular late-night TV staple and fall-back sci fi rental at Blockbuster. A sequel followed some years later but I believe this was direct to DVD.
It was not until 2001 that the next PKD-inspired production appeared. This was IMPOSTOR directed by Gary Fleder and starring Gary Sinise and Madeleine Stowe. This was a pretty good movie; nothing great, and was based on Dick's short story "Impostor."
IMPOSTOR opened the flood gates in Hollywood and the PKD-inspired movies henceforth came ralatively fast and furious. The next one was the biggest of them all as far as box-office sales were concerned: MINORITY REPORT (2002). This Stephen Spielberg directed film starring Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell earned over $500,000,000 in worldwide box-office gross by 2008. Although an immensely popular film, MINORITY REPORT, in my eyes at least, was the absolute worst PKD-adaption I've ever seen. It was based on PKD's short story "The Minority Report."
The John Woo-directed movie PAYCHECK (based on PKD's short story of the same name) appeared in 2003 and starred Uma Thurman and Ben Affleck. It was an ok movie and still worth watching on TV when there is nothing else on.
In 2006 director Richard Linklater tried to do it right with his cartoon-like version of A SCANNER DARKLY. With a hip cast including Rory Calhoun, Keanu Reaves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson this movie actually came very close to realising PKD's novel on the silver screen. For those people who had read the novel this movie was good, for those who had not perhaps some confusion arose. Still, I like it!
In 2007 a movie that is mostly forgotten next appeared, this was based on PKD's short story "The Golden Man" and titled NEXT. It was directed by Lee Tamahori and starred Nicholas Cage. Although it was not much like "The Golden Man" short story this movie was good in its own way (but to a dyed-in-the-wool PKD fan it could've been done better).
More movies are in the Hollywood works: THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (based on PKD's short story "The Adjustment Team" (1954)) is due out in 2010.
THE KING OF THE ELVES from Disney studios is expected in 2012 (let's hope it shows up before the end of the world…)
It used to be that we PKD fans were excited every time a new PKD-inspired movie came out. But it didn't take long for us to become disillusioned (this happened around the time of TOTAL RECALL). The source of disillusionment was the rigid Hollywood way of doing things: conventional to the core. It wasn't until Richard Linklater's version of A SCANNER DARKLY in 2006 that we saw something outside of the Hollywood box. Where's the imagination, where's the brilliance, where's the risk-taking that characterized PKD's written words? Apparantly it's not in Hollywood which gives us the sentimentalism of Spielberg and the ordinariness of the rest of these 'great modern directors'.
But, hope springs eternal; perhaps ADJUSTMENT BUREAU or THE KING OF THE ELVES will surprise us with something approaching PKD's brilliance in the cinematic format.
However, there is an upcoming film of RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH by independent Producer/Writer/Director John Alan Simon that should be out in late 2010. This promises to be a cut above the usual movies which I've complained about above. This is one of my fave PKD novels and this movie version should be good! Check out the website: http://www.radiofreealbemuth.com/blog/
To find out more about the PKD-based movies please go the here and follow the links: http://www.philipkdick.com/films_intro.html