Firstthe computer. Then email, tiny cell phones and the Internet. Today,sexy robotic surrogates fill in for their less attractive humancounterparts—regular people who no longer have to venture out into thereal world themselves. In the world of Touchstone Pictures' new sci-fithriller Surrogates, has technology gone too far?
Basedupon Robert Venditti's popular graphic novel of the same title, Surrogates is directed by Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3: Rise of theMachines) and stars Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell and Vhing Rames.
First-timeauthor Venditti came up with the unique premise while working at TopShelf Publications in their shipping warehouse in suburban Atlanta.Looking for a new spin on the graphic novel, Venditti recalled asociology book he had read for one of his graduate school courses whichdepicted "an actual study of people who played one of those earlycommunity-type online games," says Venditti. "I was fascinated by howthese people just became so involved in this game, creating thesealternate personas for themselves. They became so identified with themthat they would lose their jobs, their marriages, because they justcouldn't separate their lives from this persona that they created. Itwas an idea that stuck with me—the basic human desire to be somethingother than oneself."
Theauthor fleshed out his idea further by imagining various reasons peoplewould have for using a surrogate. "My idea was to create this personathat would go to work and earn money for you, a practical reason forhaving a surrogate. I looked at the idea of self-improvement, wherethese surrogates represent plastic surgery to the extreme where youcould maintain yourself as forever young, or be more muscular—look likeyour dream self."
ProducerMax Handelman, a lifelong comic book aficionado, optioned the graphicnovel from Venditti. He found the story's themes compelling. "The storyreally moves along at a great pace and allows you to imagine somethingthat could impact our society someday. Are we all going to havesurrogates? Probably not. But it's a metaphor for our society'sincreasing reliance on technology and increasingly virtualcommunication."
Handelman brought the comic to a college friend, veteran producer Todd Lieberman. "I was looking for something with an edge, a film noir-type story and I found that in Robert's story," says Lieberman. "The movie starts with two really attractive people outside of a club. All of the sudden, some guy approaches and they fall dead. You have no idea what's going on. In comes a detective, Bruce Willis' character, and his partner. And you realize pretty quickly that we're living in a worldthat's not our world.
"Thetwo people who've been killed are actually surrogates," continuesLieberman. "Not only are the surrogates getting destroyed, but thepeople controlling them at home have been murdered, which is somethingthat's never happened in the history of surrogacy. The entire world ofsurrogates is at risk because the fail-safe of not harming the user isthe cornerstone of the technology."
Openingacross the Philippines on Friday, September 25, Surrogates is distributedby Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.