The Whedon-free “Buffy” and some small triumphs for smart PR

Way back in May of ’09, I wrote about a geek-storm caused by a possible movie reboot/remake of the “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” franchise not involving the creator of the original TV series and writer of the original film of that name, Joss Whedon. The response from Whedon fans at the time — a group that includes myself and, to a great or lesser extent most of the other writers here at Premium Hollywood/Bullz-Eye land — was pretty much catcalls.

It seemed such an obvious and hamfisted attempt to cash-in on the success of “Twilight,” “True Blood,” etc., even though it was actually the “Buffy” TV series that milked the concept of vampire-human interspecies romance and the rights holders behind it didn’t have the rights to anything from the television show, just the original, likably mediocre, movie.buffy_the_vampire_slayer_1992-thumb-550x321-18443

Well, a funny thing, happened. It didn’t die and while a lot of hardcore Whedonites are still spitting mad, others, including me, are more quizzical than angry and even a bit open-minded to what Warner Brothers and Atlas Entertainment say they’re cooking up. (You can sample fan opinion at the very well run Whedon fan site, Whedonesque.)

How did Warners and producer Charles Roven soften me up? They offered, via the L.A. Times, a Joss-alternative that was convincing enough to at least want to extend the benefit of the doubt. A former actress who, judging from the photo the Times ran, is more than attractive enough to have once been a popular cheerleader herself, screenwriter Whit Anderson not only apparently wowed producers with her concept for a reboot/remake of the original “Buffy” movie, whatever that may be, she says she is a fan of the television series herself and appears entirely respectful of its legacy. Whatever her concept is, however, it better be good. she won’t be able to borrow anything more than the spirit of the original series. All of the supporting characters from the series, even Buffy’s mother, who never appeared in the film, are off limits. Talk to any fan of the show and you’ll soon learn what an ensemble piece it was.

buffy_season5_cast

Still, as quoted in the Times, she seems genuinely interested in coming up with her own, fresh spin on the premise. Really, what could be wrong with that? Sure, it most likely won’t be good because most things aren’t good. Even if it’s great, she may have problems with possible vampire-fatigue setting in among filmgoers. Still, I have to give credit to Ms. Anderson and Warner’s PR from turning my attitude from raw contempt to something more like skeptical curiosity. The only problem, really, is that it seems extremely soon for a reimagining.

That was pretty much the premise of today’s other moment of good PR, Joss Whedon’s statement in response to the news. Expanding greatly on his earlier four-word response (“I hope it’s cool”) , Whedon responded to E!’s Kristen Dos Santos the way his longtime fans expect — with jokes, apparent honesty and humility, and more jokes. After ironically noting that he’s feeding off a few characters created by a number of other writers in his upcoming film of Marvel’s “The Avengers,” he continues:

My first reaction upon hearing who was writing it was, “Whit Stillman AND Wes Anderson? This is gonna be the most sardonically adorable movie EVER…

…I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death. But, you know, AFTER. I don’t love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I’m also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was. And there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly. I can’t wish people who are passionate about my little myth ill. I can, however, take this time to announce that I’m making a Batman movie…

  

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