Exclusive | Oscar-winning writer Eric Roth pitched Contact 2 to Robert Zemeckis

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Eric Roth wanted Robert Zemeckis to make a sequel to 1997’s Contact – but the conversation didn’t get very far.

In a very special episode of the Film Stories podcast, I’ve had the enormous pleasure of chatting at length to Oscar-winning screenwriter Eric Roth. You can find the episode right here

Early on in the conversation, he talks about working with director Robert Zemeckis, the pair of whom both took home Oscars for Forrest Gump. They’ve reteamed on another movie that’s due later this year by the name of Here, but Eric Roth told me he’d originally approached Zemeckis with an idea for something else.

“I called Bob actually to see if he’d be interested in me writing Contact 2 for him, because I really liked that. I really like that whole arena”.

Zemeckis, in Roth’s words, quickly declined the idea, with difficulties surrounding getting the rights to do another film in the first place. Whether he’d explored that himself or not before I can’t speak to. In fact, I need to be clear here: none of these are Robert Zemeckis’ words, this is Eric Roth’s telling of the story.

The rights to Contact – a film that went through a lengthy development, with a fair few bumps – are held by the estate of its author, Carl Sagan. The original Contact, from 1997, was dedicated to Sagan, who passed when the film was in production. James V Hart and Michael Goldenberg penned the script for it.

There’d never been talk of a sequel anywhere to my knowledge, which is what made Eric Roth’s words pop out so much to me.

Later in the conversation, we do go back to the topic too. He and Zemeckis talk quite frequently, but not overtly about work, outside of a casual question or two about what they’re up to. In this case though, Eric Roth went to Robert Zemeckis with the idea.

“It came out of the blue”, Roth says of his idea for Contact 2.

“I don’t know why. I woke up. I just had a dream about it or something, and thought I’d love to do that.”

When we then chatted specifically about the rights, Roth confirmed “that’s a losing game.” Sagan’s estate guard them closely, and Roth had no problem with that.

There won’t ever be a Contact 2, then. Or at least there’s precious sign of it. Instead, Zemeckis told Eric Roth about Here, and they’re back working together on that. It’s due in cinemas at the end of the year…

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