Everything you need to know about Mute – Duncan Jones’ long-awaited extension to the Moon universe

By ·October 22, 2016 11:30 am

Director Duncan Jones is much loved among the Science Fiction community, primarily for his superb contribution to the genre that was the old school and thought provoking 2009 film Moon.

After Moon Jones went onto make the fairly decent Source Code and the entirely dreadful (in my personal opinion) Warcraft. Despite these deviating projects, Jones’ heart has laid with Mute; a film set in the same universe as Moon that Jones has been trying to make for over 14 years now. Despite the knock backs that prevented the film from reaching the screen, Jones always persevered with patience (he has referred to as “my Don Quixote”) and now, finally, Mute has begun shooting.

Below we highlight all of the enticing information that we know about Jones’ Mute so far, with the intent of keeping everyone up to date with what to expect from Jones’ highly anticipated film, and to spur interest in those who might not yet have heard of it.

The Casablanca-inspired plot

The poster for the 1942 classic Casablanca, which Jones is taking heavy influence from for Mute.

The poster for the 1942 classic Casablanca, which Jones is taking heavy influence from for Mute.

Jones has described the story as a “Science Fiction Casablanca” and IMDB lists the plot of Mute as so:

Berlin. Forty years from today. A roiling city of immigrants, where East crashes against West in a science-fiction Casablanca. Leo Beiler (Skarsgard), a mute bartender has one reason and one reason only for living here, and she’s disappeared. But when Leo’s search takes him deeper into the city’s underbelly, an odd pair of American surgeons (led by Rudd) seem to be the only recurring clue, and Leo can’t tell if they can help, or who he should fear most.

The classic noir feel of Casablanca combined with straight up Dystopian SF sounds like a great formula to us. If you think of the calm intelligence of Moon and mix that with a noir feel, as well as a Blade Runner-style backdrop, and it all sounds like a highly enticing concoction.

The A-list cast

Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård (True BloodThe Legend of TarzanWar on Everyone) will take on the role of the film’s mute protagonist, Leo Beiler. Skarsgård is a adored by many – both for his Hollywood hunk status and for the ineffable cool that he exudes. We think he’s a great choice and that there’s far more to him than just his looks (though it is interesting that Jones has gone with a looker for a role that involves zero speaking and solely visual acting).

Alexander Skarsgård

Jones has also revealed that Sam Rockwell will undertake a small cameo in Mute (see the section below for the rumours on who he will probably play). Paul Rudd and The Leftovers‘ Justin Theroux will also be in the film, but who they play remains a mystery at the time of writing. Those who do have confirmed characters are Gilbert Owuor as Maksim and Daniel Fathers as Sgt. Robert Kloskowski.

Extending the “Mooniverse”

The poster for Duncan Jones' 2009 film Moon.

The poster for Duncan Jones’ 2009 film Moon.

Mute will be set in the same universe as Moon, which Jones refers to as his “Mooniverse”, which will hopefully leading into a trilogy of films. Jones has revealed that Sam Rockwell will undertake a small cameo in Mute, which no doubt means that Sam Bell will be making an appearance (presumably the one who returned to Earth and blew the whistle, or perhaps the real Sam Bell who resides with his family on Earth).

This is something that gets us and other Moon fans very excited indeed. Although Mute won’t be a direct sequel to Moon and will be more of a companion piece, it’s still an extension of Jones’ intriguing universe and we can’t wait to see how he branches that world out.

The stalled graphic novel

Dark Horse was planning a Mute graphic novel in 2013, as a way to simply get Jones’ story out there and told. The graphic novel had Jones collaborating with the huge comic book name that is Glenn Fabry (Preacher). In July 2013 Jones tweeted:

MUTE graphic novel being published by Dark Horse Comics and pumped full of the arty goodness of the master, Glenn Frickin’ Fabry!!! And as a very special gift & thank you to all my mates twitter… all 150,000+ of you, lay your eyes on this. 🙂 … Mute graphic novel is not finished yet, but Ill be signing this page of Glenn’s art from it.  So excited that Mute will finally exist!

Accompanying this tweet was the following page of art from the graphic novel:


Art from the 2013 Mute comic book that Dark Horse intended to produce, but which never actually went ahead.

Despite Jones’ tweet implying that the graphic novel was a done deal, comic book never actually arrived. The precise reason for this is unclear, but presumably it had something to do with Jones still thinking there was a chance to see the project realised as a film first – and he was right, with the project now finally finding its feet in 2016.

Even though we’d like to have read the comic, we’re glad that the graphic novel never arrived, because it would have entirely given away the entire narrative to Mute and fans would have gone into the 2016 Mute film (if it still went ahead) knowing every twist and turn.

If there is indeed a completed graphic novel out there (Jones’ tweet stated that it wasn’t quite finished), then Jones could always release this graphic novel alongside the film – similar the way in which Darren Aronofsky released the graphic novel for The Fountain alongside the film, which was originally created (like Jones’ graphic novel) as a way to get the story out there if the film never happened.

The Blade Runner-esque concept art

In mid-2016 Jones gave Empire Magazine the right to reveal some of his concept art for Mute, which to us cements Blade Runner very much as an influence for the film. Jones tweeted the below page from Empire Magazine, which can be found in their May 2016 issue:

This concept art featured in the May 2016 edition of Empire Magazine.

This concept art featured in the May 2016 edition of Empire Magazine.

Shooting has begun

Jones is very active on twitter and interacts a lot with his fans. On 21st September 2016 he tweeted that Mute would begin shooting in one week (which fell on 28th September 2016):

This means that Mute is still in the thick of production at the time of writing, with no fixed release date yet; only 2017 as the year of release. It’s evident from the surprised face at the end of Jones’ tweet just how unbelievable it must feel to him to finally get this project underway after over 14 years of set backs.

The most recent tweet from Jones about shooting came on 21st October 2016, when he tweeted:

Mute will debut on Netflix

Netflix have committed to debuting Jones' Mute.

Netflix have committed to debuting Jones’ Mute.

The film will debut on Netflix, adding to Netflix’s growing 2017 slate. It’s a great move, because even though the film won’t get to normal cinematic release (which it will no doubt deserve), Jones fans will be able to jump straight onto Netflix on the day of release to catch this long-waited extension of the “Mooniverse”.

With acquisitions such as this one, Netflix continue to stamp themselves out as the cool outfit who make the effort (and spend the money) to give the fans what they want. Netflix did this before by saving The Killing for a fourth and final season, among other bold moves. Clearly Netflix know that Jones has a huge niche following and we love them for giving Mute a chance.

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, has stated:

“Duncan Jones is such a dynamic directing force, and the team he has assembled in-front-of and behind-the-camera will continue to reinvigorate the science fiction genre. It will be exciting to share this film with Netflix audiences around the world next year.”

This shows that they not only recognise Jones’ unique voice in cinema (not the use of the word ‘continue’, which shows that they recognise what Moon accomplished), but they also care greatly about the state of the Science Fiction genre within cinema.

Moon is scheduled for a 2017 release on Netflix and you can be certain that we’ll cover the film upon its release.

Image credits: Duncan Jones, Dark Horse, Empire Magazine

Written by Christopher Hart

Lead Writer and Copywriter

Chris is a Copywriter for a major bank. He an MA in Publishing and a BA in Comparative Literature. He's also a self-published author (Altered Stone).

His areas of interest include LOST, The Leftovers, The Prisoner, Y: The Last Man, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, BioShock, Supergiant Games and Josh Malerman.

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