After bringing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Godzilla to the big screen, director Gareth Edwards will next present an original idea rather than another entry in a massive franchise. The Creator, set in the future, essentially boils down to a war between humanity and AI, with John David Washington starring as a former special forces operative enlisted to hunt down a potentially war-ending weapon. That plan goes awry when he learns the weapon in question is actually an AI made to resemble a child.
It’s hard to argue this movie could have been timed better, given the current WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes and the role artificial intelligence plays in the negotiations. Still, this is an idea Edwards first started putting together back when he was still working on Rogue One.
“I got the idea, actually, it was on the publicity tour for [Star Wars: Rogue One],” the co-writer/director revealed to GameSpot at San Diego Comic-Con. “And [my girlfriend and I] had some time off and ended up driving–my girlfriend’s from Iowa–we drove across the country for a few days.”
It was on that trip, that Edwards’ just so happened to see a field that caught his eye.
“I was looking out the window and I wasn’t trying to do it on purpose,” he continued. “But suddenly, you know, when you finish a movie, all that stuff is in your brain that took up all that space for years, you just have to let it go. And there’s like this empty canvas. And so you just start daydreaming about another movie and I was listening to soundtracks. And we just went past this field with tall grass. And it looked like there was a factory of some sort in the middle of the field.”
Edwards still had no idea what was happening inside that building in a field, but it was enough to spark his imagination.
“The way I remember it is it had a sort of Japanese logo,” he said. “And I thought, ‘Hmm, I wonder what’s going on in there?’ And just the way I’m wired, I was like, ‘Actually maybe they’re building robots in there or something.’ And I was like, ‘Imagine being that robot. Imagine what would it be like if all you’ve seen was that factory and you stepped outside into this field or into the world and you’re like, ‘What is this? What’s going on?'”
From there, it took no time at all, as Edwards says, “By the time we got to my girlfriend’s parents’ house, I had the whole movie in my head. And that never normally happens. Normally, it’s like a really painful thing. And so that was a good sign.”
That good sign led to a movie that will hit theaters on September 29. It remains to be seen if Edwards sees this as the launch of his own franchise or as a one-off film. Whatever the case, The Creator is one of the more high-profile releases that will hit theaters this year without being based on an existing property.