I was so excited the moment I learned one of my favourite book series was going to be made into a bunch of movies. Finally, The Lost Regiment, by William R. Forstchen, was getting the accolades it deserved. And then I waited. And waited. After two or three years, I learned the sad news – there would be no movie.
The Lost Regiment first hit bookstores in 1990. It follows a Union regiment from the US Civil War that gets swept up into the Bermuda Triangle while in transit one stormy night. When the soldiers awaken, they find themselves on an alien planet.
The 1,000 men of the regiment are led by the brave Colonel Andrew Keane and his hard-as-nails sidekick, Sergeant Schumer. They are shocked to meet an entire civilization of medieval Russians, who come to challenge the regiment with knights and catapults. The Union men fire a couple of shots from their cannon over the Russians’ heads and end the confrontation quickly.
They are taken in and become part of these strange Russians on an alien planet. But then they learn something more horrifying: there’s a race of horrible beasts, called Tugars, who feed on human flesh. These monsters are eight feet tall and organized. They ride on horseback and shoot arrows as tall as a grown man. They’ve put human cities all over the world and harvest the people there as they travel in their never-ending circling. Humans are completely subservient to them.
The Union men, who just fought a brutal war to end slavery, refuse to subjugate themselves when the Tugars show up. The men have high-powered weapons and cannons, so they organize the Russians to make a stand. There is a brutal war between the 100,000 warriors of the Tugars and the small group of Russians and Americans armed with rifles.
Tom Cruise purchased the rights to the series in 2003 and fans of the book went nuts. Forums and message boards were abuzz with rumours. Who would play Colonel Keane? Who would direct it? When would it come out?
In 2004, Cruise announced he was in Hollywood looking for producers for the movie. A script was written and casting directors assembled. I nearly lost my mind with excitement. This was better than the approach of Christmas for a child!
But then there was nothing else. People began to question and gossip. Cruise was silent. Hollywood and its media were silent. By 2005, most people had moved on. Not me. I wanted to see The Lost Regiment on the big screen!
Then, in 2006, Cruise announced there would be no movies. The project was shelved only three years after it had begun. He never said why. Maybe he couldn’t find a producer? Maybe he realized the immense cost of producing such an ambitious picture?
Whatever the reason, The Lost Regiment remains on paper only. I still enjoy the series when I reread it, every few years or so. For now, I have to remain satisfied with imagining the scenes in my head, rather than seeing them on the screen.