High stakes: 'Buffy' reboots

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A new incarnation of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" could be coming to the big screen.

"Buffy" creator Joss Whedon isn't involved, and it's not set up at a studio, but Roy Lee and Doug Davison of Vertigo Entertainment are working with original movie director Fran Rubel Kuzui and her husband, Kaz Kuzui, on what is being labeled a remake or relaunch but not a sequel or prequel.

Whedon is the person most associated with "Buffy," but Kuzui and her Kuzui Enterprises have held the rights since the beginning, when she discovered the "Buffy" script from then-unknown Whedon. She developed the script while her husband put together financing to make the 1992 movie, which was released by Fox.

Kuzui later teamed with Gail Berman, then president of Sandollar Television, bringing back Whedon to make the TV series, which was produced by Fox TV and launched on the WB in 1997. Kuzui and Sandollar received executive producer credits on "Buffy" and its spinoff, "Angel."

The new "Buffy" film, however, would have no connection to the TV series, nor would it use such popular supporting characters as Angel, Willow, Xander or Spike. Vertigo and Kuzui are looking to restart the story line without trampling on the beloved universe created by Whedon, putting the parties in a similar situation faced by Paramount, J.J. Abrams and his crew when relaunching "Star Trek."

One of the underlying ideas of "Buffy" allows Vertigo and Kuzui to do just that: that each generation has its own vampire slayer to protect it. The goal would be to make a darker, event-sized movie that would have franchise potential.

The parties are meeting with writers and hearing takes, and later will look for a home for the project. The producers have not ruled out Whedon's involvement but have not reached out to him. Speaking from Tokyo, Fran Kuzui said the company is approached constantly not only about sequels but also theater, video game and foreign remakes for "Buffy." When Vertigo's Lee contacted them, they were intrigued.

"It was Roy's interest in taking Buffy into a new place that grabbed us," she said, noting that original exec producer Sandy Gallin also was consulted. "It was based on our respect for what he does, and his particular sensitivity to Asian filmmakers, that we wanted to work with him."

Kuzui, prepping to direct a movie in Japan in the fall, added: "Everything has its moment. Every movie takes on a life at some point, and this seems like the moment to do this." (partialdiff)
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