We are taking derivative work of recognizable properties to new depths. According to yesterday’s article on The Hollywood Reporter website, Sony is set to shell out around a cool million dollars for the right to develop a prequel to Peter Pan, with Channing Tatum attached to star. Yes, a prequel to a character and mythology which is over a hundred years old.
A prequel in which they ‘re-imagine’ Peter Pan and Hook as brothers and ‘re-invent’ the story of how they became enemies. Or something as positively vomit-worthy as that. Peter Pan meets the story of Thor and Loki? Or will it be Cain and Abel? Actually, I don’t know and I certainly don’t care. For the love of Tinker Bell and Tiger Lily, Hollywood, just stop!
I get that the shiny-suited Big Wigs don’t like to shell out for ‘unproven’ or ‘unrecognized’ properties. Translated, that sentence means that they are less likely to back a film with creativity than they are to back one upon which they can slap a known label. I understand the economics of it and the reality of it (as quite succinctly examined in GQ’s article “The Day The Movies Died“) but it is bloody well annoying.
And when they start to strip mine things like the long-standing and beloved tale of Peter Pan as some kind of star vehicle for the pablum of Channing Tatum it offends me.
A big reason I’m juiced for Battle: Los Angeles (also Sony Pictures) is, despite it being thematically recognizable as another Us Versus Alien Invasion, it is at least a new set of characters with their own idiosyncrasies (I hope), in their own tale, with their own fates, foibles, failures, and perhaps victories to explore. Though the genre is old, the journey is new. Same reason I enjoyed the sand-apples out of Rango. I want new stories, even if they are continuations, or the very, very rare aptly crafted prelude tale. I do not want you to give me some half-baked pipedream — bastardized from a perfectly good story — which is designed to edify nothing more than your share value.
If, Mr. Tatum, you had wanted to write a tale of two brothers destined to become enemies in a fantastical land far away then why, in the name of Dickens, didn’t you do just that? Why do we have to suffer yet another rehashed, reinvented, reimagined, retooled, regurgitated, and reviolated version of a story which stands just fine on its original legs?
I don’t mind remakes (Father of the Bride, The Fly). I don’t mind updates (Scarface). I don’t mind reboots (Batman Begins, Star Trek, Casino Royale). I don’t mind revisiting source material (True Grit). I don’t mind ongoing sequels (Die Hard). And I don’t mind prequels (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly). I don’t mind anything with some artistic integrity, though I would still like to see brand new tales get equal if not better attention.
But I sure as heck don’t want to see Channing Tatum as Peter Pan in Never Never Land: The Dark Pixies, or whatever Frankensteinian behemoth you’re planning to devolve from J. M. Barrie’s tales of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.
Quite frankly, you can go Hook yourself!
MAR-10 UPDATE! Well, apparently Pan prequels are hot. SyFy, that phonetically obtuse channel, is also producing their own Peter Pan prequel as a TV movie. I know very little about this production and thus I cannot immediately slam their efforts. However, it’s slated for December so, I have time.
MAR-18 UPDATE! Uh, really? This trend continues with a current total of FOUR features in development in addition to the miniseries by SyFy. And, according to The Hollywood Reporter (my current source of ire-inducing movie news), it ain’t just Peter Pan (who is to be the villain in one version). The fairy tales are about to get the comic book hero treatment with waves of pix jockeying for your dollar.