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JAN
19
4 YEARS

EXCLUSIVE: 'Lethal Weapon,' 'Wild Bunch' Reboots Revived After Warner Bros. Exec Shuffle

Are you ready for a Lethal Weapon reboot? How about a remake of The Wild Bunch?

Those are some of the few high-profile titles now getting a new lease on life at Warner Bros. due to the year-end departure of longtime studio executive Jessica Goodman. During her 13-year tenure, the executive vp oversaw such projects as Watchmen, Training Day and the upcoming Green Lantern. Since her departure, the studio’s top brass has reassigned her portfolio among several other execs.

In the file were long-in-development remakes of The Dirty Dozen and Oh, God, as well as Tarzan -- titles that have been active in recent years but haven’t come together with the right talent to score the elusive green light. Also in the mix are a reboots of the Mel Gibson-Danny Glover franchise Lethal Weapon, as well as remakes of Westworld and The Wild Bunch.

The properties will now get fresh and hungry eyes -- and talent agents are already chatting up the potential projects and listing clients they can pitch for directing or writing gigs.

Will any of the library titles get fast-tracked? Here’s our take on the big questions the studio needs to consider:

  • Lethal Weapon: What was considered an “event” movie in the late 1980s seems almost quaint in 2011 (no matter how awesome the first two movies are). The concept is essentially a police procedural featuring a mismatched pair of detectives. The chemistry between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, coupled with Richard Donner’s direction and a sharp script from a young Shane Black, turned this into a franchise. But one wrong move and it could have been Tango and Cash or Cop-Out. The studio would need to make a risky bet on casting -- Jeremy Renner in the Gibson role? -- and recruit a hot action director to make this feel fresh. And even though the temptation might be to go big-budget (Warners likes to go big), perhaps a smaller, grittier Weapon might re-establish its credibility.  
  • Westworld: Here’s a remake that could actually benefit from a 21st Century dusting. MGM first produced this Michael Crichton-penned movie back in 1973 and Warners has been trying to remake it since the 1990s. Technology alone is almost reason enough to remake it. But what makes it appealingly remake-able is that Westworld’s story is based on a big idea: a robot attraction at a theme park that turns on its visitors. With Transformers making billions for Paramount and DreamWorks, Warners could use a big-idea robot movie to sell around the world.
  • The Wild Bunch: How can the studio even consider remaking the Sam Peckinpah Western classic? Two words: True Grit. Many weren’t happy that the Coen Brothers were doing a new adaptation but the Western has turned into the duo’s biggest hit ($129 million at the boxoffice and counting) and has people talking Oscar nominations. But just as True Grit required the attention of top filmmakers with a distinct point of view, the same goes for a movie as seminal as Wild Bunch. Warners couldn’t hire a journeyman scribe for the project. They would need to lure an A-list filmmaker who really, really wants to do it. Danny Boyle hasn’t tacked a Western, has he? What would Aaron Sorkin dialogue sound like if delivered in cowboy hats?