A veritable geek storm has erupted over an item at the Hollywood Reporter reporting a Star Trek and Twilight inspired reboot, or something, of the Buffy, the Vampire Slayer franchise, only without Buffy creator Joss Whedon, sans Buffy’s erstwhile “scooby” friends (no Willow!!!! Aaaagh!!!!!!), and, if I read it right, without Buffy.
A bit of backstory: Fran Rubel Kuzui, director of the original, pleasantly mediocre, movie version of the franchise once upon a time fashioned a perfectly respectable, pleasantly lightweight autobiographical indie romantic comedy, Tokyo Pop (or that’s how I remember it…I haven’t seen it since it’s 1988 release, when I was but a highly precocious toddler). In typical Hollywood fashion, on her second (and, so far, final) feature as a director, most accounts hold that Rubel and company seriously refashioned Whedon’s original screenplay from a serio-comic actioner to an out and out teen comedy with random changes made to the screenplay from a number of sources, including, according to Whedon, co-star Donald Sutherland (who you will never see in any other Whedon project, it’s safe to say).
Since then, Rubel Kazui has held on to some of the rights, and fans of the Buffy TV show saw her name at the front of every episode…and heard nothing else from her, ever. It’s safe to assume that she had zero input on the television show and received the credit as part of her compensation for the rights. Now, as most of you probably know, a major plot thread of the TV show was Buffy’s trouble-plagued romance with a (mostly) good guy vampire named Angel, setting the hearts of fans of Sarah Michelle Geller and David Boreanaz seriously aflutter. Hence, the Twilight connection — though lips that touched blood never touched those belonging to movie-Buffy Kristy Swanson.
So, with those Trek and Twilight grosses pointing the way, Kuzui and Vertigo Entertainment, which usually specializes in remaking Asian films for the American market, are trying to restart the franchise, apparently using a loophole from the original concept of there being a new slayer in every generation. As a fan of the show, trust me when I say this is nowhere near as clever as the loophole J.J. Abrams and company came up with to stay on (most) Trekkies’ good sides. Overall, this idea strikes me as if the Coca-Cola company had put out New Coke as a non-carbonated non-cola. Buffy without Buffy Summers, and the Whedonverse, without Whedon = box office gold?!? Nah.
Assuming it ever happens, of course. Whedon is an extremely savvy third-generation show biz writer who has already pulled off the unheard of feats of retrieving a lost screenplay concept and remaking it as his own TV show, and then turning another quickly-canceled television show into a major, if not immediately profitable, Hollywood film (Serenity). He is usually protective of his properties, to the extent that he has any control. I’m guessing that this one is almost certain to generate very interesting behind-the-scenes maneuvers.
As always, on Whedon-related matters Whedonesque is very much on top of the story.
UPDATE: Michael Ausiello has managed to elicit a four word response from Joss Whedon, whose currently working on his horror film collaboration with Drew Goddard, “The Cabin in the Woods.” Those four words are:
I hope it’s cool.