Timothy Leary and William Gibson promoting a Neuromancer film

Over at at the Internet Archive's Timothy Leary collection, my pal Chris Arkenberg spotted this cyberpunk flashback: a promotional video featuring Leary, William Gibson, and others promoting a film adaptation of Neuromancer that, obviously, never happened. The film was also teased on the box for the Neuromancer computer game released in 1988, dating the above video to that same period. Gibson: "To my mind at least, (Neuromancer) is really the world that we live in, just pushed a little bit."


  1. I have that Apple ][ Neuromancer game! It features a soundtrack by DEVO! Great glitchy graphic box art too.
    I never played it, picked it up in mid 90’s and by that time my Apple ][c was in storage.
    Its gotta be out in the emulator zones somewhere.
    Be great to hear the soundtrack, heck, play the game!
    Must find…

    1. Univac – that intro soundtrack really was rad (back then)!
      It’s only a digitized loop of, what, eight bars or so, with two lines of lyrics — at least for the C64 version — but it’s still hot.

  2. i heard a rumour that once upon a time, sylvester stallone owned the rights to the screenplay of neuromancer, which he acquired as partial payment for cliffhanger. i spent several years cowering in fear at the concept of him starring in the damn thing. thank god that has not come to pass.

    this video was nearly unwatchable, rabid fanhood and curiosity aside, there were some talking heads on that thing dry enough to be classified as dessicants.

  3. also, did you notice that the first woman didn’t even say the name of the book right? she said something like neuro-manson or something. seriously.imagine how much would actually get done if middlemen like her and the dude in the glasses and cosby-sweater didn’t get involved in the process. i bet if it weren’t for these folks movies like neuromancer would already be on our dvd shelves. or at least pirated onto our external hard drives.

  4. Earl Max Rauch wrote the screenplay for Buckaroo Banzai, as well as a paperback treatment of it.

    I’d like to see a well done version of this. key is well done. I’d also love to see what someone with skill could do with The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. Can’t recall who owns the rights to that.

    this was a very grim 1980s piece – I worked in the film industry for a while – the exec producers have little or no knowledge of what they dump their money in, and sometimes tend to be the Destroyers of Projects by leaning on the directors until things just fall apart. Thinking they are doing a Good Thing, or just trying to Be Someone. After all, Hollywood is all about Being Someone. It’s a very strange life.

    Neuromancer – a great book, a wonderful environment.

  5. My former boss was once offered the rights to Neuromancer. This was in 1989 or so. I got the impression that the people who offered it to him were, charitably, Hollywood scumbags. Think: Bare hairy chests and flashy gold jewelry.

  6. This movie has been in production hell for so long. I think the only director that could have done this justice, and Gibson’s been quoted as feeling the same, was Chris Cunningham. He had it in his hands for awhile but for whatever reason no longer is attached to it. I’ve been following this for years and the last I heard about this current reiteration of it, with Joseph Kahn, was back in July 2008 when the rumor was that Hayden Christensen had been cast as Case. Liv Tyler has been rumored to be up for a role, the most obvious role being Molly. Not sure I like either choice for either role. (I remember after seeing Kalifornia thinking that Michelle Forbes had the right look for Molly.)
    There’s some pretty sweet looking posters for the Kahn Neuromancer over at Quiet Earth.


    Personally, I’d be suprised if we ever see this come to the big screen in a form that’s respectable. Even if Kahn has the best of intentions and a great screenplay, after Avatar, any studio that gets their hands on this will insist it be done in some hyper-adrenalized super-kinetic 3D Imax thrill ride that will have little in common with the book.

    1. #10,

      “Liv Tyler has been rumored to be up for a role, the most obvious role being Molly. Not sure I like either choice for either role.”

      I would like to see Carrie-Anne Moss as Molly but Trinity was really Molly anyway. Its gotta be someone hard.

      I suppose 3Jane and Linda Lee are the other two main female characters. I always assumed Linda to be Japanese. I think Liv Tyler would make a great 3Jane. She looks quite European, as opposed to American.

      Linda is an important character to the story but she doesn’t get much time on screen. She spends her time being pushed around by Case and Neuromancer, gets killed and gives Case the key to hacking the AI. Physically there are plenty of Actresses who could do the job but to do it well she would have to understand the story.

  7. I’m wondering…

    CAN it be made into a movie? And I mean a movie that’ll not just do well, but truly be a classic? That’s the problem when a book is liked enough to justify a movie attempt, the fans want it to be classic, not just raw entertainment.

    I mean another tangent, like “Batman: The Dark Night Returns”. Since Miller writes in a Film Noir mode, it wouldn’t be difficult to adapt, just a matter of special effects, actors, etc. However, it’s been so long since it was made, and it was more or less the Batman of 60s/70s comics hiding out for a decade then re-emerging in the 80s… The accelerated “Cyberpunk” aspect would help it be more modern, but the heavy cold war/Reagan might make it seem dated.

    So, likewise, Cyberpunk movies might be seen as us whining for lost childhood fantasies… However, though, it does seem like the “Cyberpunk” futures were fairly prophetic, starting with “Evil Corporations Control the World” and a fight between a controlled commercial net and radicals that want to play with it.

  8. So until watching this I didn’t realise that Star Wars was set in the extreme future… I thought for some reason it happened a long time ago (don’t know where I got that from)…

    I also didn’t realise that so many suits would like Sci-Fi. I mean, it’s one of my favourite books but it isn’t really written in such a way that people who don’t like Sci-Fi would like it…

    What’s Neuro-Manson?

  9. I’d like to make an insightful, relevant comment, but I just can’t get past having seen William Gibson with a mullet.

  10. The old script for the movie adaptation, dating from 1990, can be found at http://www.antonraubenweiss.com/gibson/neuromovie.html

    To tell the truth, reading it, a few years ago, made very glad the deal fell through. And when I remember the movie “Johnny Mnemonic” … well, let’s say I try to not remember it.

    Take a look at the matrix run scenes in the script. Those were pure brilliance in the book, but here … bah. Stop signs, striped barriers and virtual tunnels. Pedestrian. Where is the limitless void, the breath-taking neon vistas, the spiralling galaxies of unreachable net-clusters overhead? “Matrix” did well to limit itself mostly to representations of down-to-earth action with seemingly real stuff (remember “Lawn Mower Man”? Oh dear.).

    (Seriously, when a movie starts with exposition text in “ultra-violet print”, something is wrong.)

    Also, the arguably most important things in the novel – the bleak, blasted inner life of the soul-scarred protagonists — would not translate well onto the screen, especially if the rest of it — the actual plot –the is turned into an action/CGI/gunbattle fest. Hell, some people don’t even realize the novel is about more than cool cyber-capers, vat-grown ninjas and flechette guns.

    Admittedly, those are all cool like hell, but the book is so much more.

  11. All these great and insightful comments about the movie that never happened, and all I can think of when I was watching this video was: “Wow, people really *did* used to dress like that?”


  12. Be very interesting to see a history of how the rights to Neuromancer have bounced around H-wood. Probably about as twisted a journey as LOTR, I’m guessing. I’d have loved to have seen BB creator EMR involved.

    And ditto on the William Gibson mullet. Then again, we didn’t think of them as mullets back then.

  13. Considering the worthless piece of garbage that was Johnny Mnemonic, an absence of a Neuromancer movie is likely a very good thing.

  14. Man, how did we go from this and all the crazy VR movies of the 90’s… to the “Cyber-Emo” of Avatar? Bring back Billy Idol’s vision of the future…

  15. Someone actually did a nice 80s-influenced trailer for Neuromancer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AS_n_IVKmdM

    I recommended it as a BB main post quite a while back but it never turned up. As I commented at the clip link, I really think a gritty retro-future approach to a Neuromancer film would be the only style to make sense at this point (as the source material has been mined so heavily by Hollywood for over 25 years!). Anyway, cool fan trailer.

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