The Fletch remake is one that has been around for ever, as it has kicked between various directors, actors and movie studios. It's spent its life lingering in development Hell, but Relativity's recently announced bankruptcy may have just breathed new life into this beloved detective comedy. First at Mirimax, and then shuffled over to Warner Bros., Fletch finally found its home at Relativity. But like their Crow remake, it had trouble getting off the ground. Now their financial woes seem to be forcing their hand. The studio is seeking out another studio to help get Fletch moving once again.
Fletch is being included in a potential deal that will keep Relativity active through their Chapter 11 crisis. THR has the report, which sees Fletch as one of the more attractive elements in helping the corporation go through restructuring in its attempt to find new investors. As of now, the studio is still planning to release their upcoming movies Masterminds and Kidnap on schedule.
Masterminds stars Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis and Zach Galifianakis and is scheduled for release this October. Kidnap, starring Halle Berry, is set to open the same month. Relativity also hopes to keep their development pipeline humming, which would keep money flowing in. At the time the bankruptcy was announced, the studio claimed it was still shooting The Crow this fall. But the project no longer has a leading man attached, and it appears to be on hold for the time being. But according to sources close to Relativity, Fletch may be the most important property in keeping the studio afloat.
Related: Fletch Comes to HD DVD on March 11th
One problem facing the potential revival of this Gregory Mcdonald adaptation is that the true owner of the rights is in question. Some sources claim that Relativity owns half of the project, and will continue to do so as long as they get the project up and moving before the end of the year. Others say that the studio lost the rights the same time they lost Jane Got a Gun, as the properties were shared by Boies/Schiller Film Group. And then there is the bold claim that Fletch is moving forward, but Relativity is not involved at all in the proceedings.
If Relativity does retain half of the rights, they need to make a deal happen extremely fast. If the rights truly belong somewhere else, there's a chance it still may never happen. The first Fletch was released in 1985 starring Chevy Chase, with a sequel, Fletch Lives, released in 1989. In the mid-90s, director Kevin Smith attempted to get a third sequel starring Chevy Chase off the ground for Universal, but it never happened. The writer-director then hopped over to Mirimax, where the rights reverted, with the hopes of making a reboot starring his Mallrats leading man Jason Lee. But the studio didn't see eye to eye with him on the casting. The movie would have been a prequel, and would have allowed for Chevy Chase to make a cameo.
Mirimax wanted the Fletch reboot to ignite their first franchise, and it was ready to shoot in 2003. But Kevin Smith was having difficulty landing a leading man. Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, and Jimmy Fallon were all considered. And then he almost made the movie with Zach Braff. But in 2005, he officially walked away from the project. That's when Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence stepped in for what would have been his directorial debut. By 2007, both Bill Lawrence and Zach Braff had bailed on the project, with Hot Tub Time Machine director Steve Pink filling the hot seat as director. The film still didn't happen.
In 2011, Warner Bros. purchased the rights to the franchise. Steve Pink bailed, but Jason Sudeikis came in to play the title character. By 2013, the movie had moved to Relativity. It isn't known if Jason Sudeikis is still interested in the role, or if that ship has sailed for the comedian. If the movie is indeed set to start shooting before the end of the year, it will need to get a writer and director in place quickly. And they may need to start looking for a new leading man. Any suggestions?