Warner Bros. to Reboot BEETLEJUICE; Seth Grahame-Smith to Possibly Write Script; Updates on His Other Projects with David Katzenberg

     September 6, 2011

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David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith and their KatzSmith production company have signed a two-year first-look deal with Warner Brothers.  One of the first projects under that deal is a Beetlejuice reboot because of course it is.  For those who haven’t seen the original: stop making me feel old.  Tim Burton’s 1988 comedy starred Michael Keaton as the eponymous character, a mischievous ghoul who teams with a young woman (Winona Ryder) to get her parents out of their new home so it can be restored to its dead owners (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin).  Deadline reports that the deal grew out of Grahame-Smith’s screenwriting work on Tim Burton’s next film, Dark Shadows, an adaptation of the 1960s horror TV series.  Grahame-Smith, who came to popularity out of his gimmick novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (film adaptations are in the works for both), is contracted to write two scripts under the deal and Beetlejuice could be one of them.

Hit the jump for other projects KatzSmith has in the works.

seth-grahame-smith-david-katzenberg-01Outside of their deal with Warner Bros., KatzSmith has the comedy From Mia with Love set up at Fox.  Katzenberg (pictured far right; son of DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg) and Grahame-Smith wrote the script along with Kevin Chesley and Bryan Shukoff.  The movie is about “three high school guys who are looking to lose their virginity before college, hire a Russian mail-order bride and find she has brought a lot of baggage.”  The film is supposed to be in the vein of Weird Science.  I suppose that’s better than being in the vein of Birthday Girl.

But here’s my favorite part of Deadline’s story:

“We pride ourselves on coming up with a lot of our own ideas, about 90% of the projects we’ve generated in film and TV are ones we created and developed,” says Katzenberg. “The studio will help us bring our ideas to the finish line.”

This is immediately followed by the announcement that one of the films in the deal is an adaptation of Grahame-Smith’s next novel, We Three Kings, “which is a large scale telling of what the Three Wiseman from the Bible were actually doing in the manger that night.”  That’s Grahame-Smith’s gimmick: take something classical and well known and sprinkle it with the supernatural or outsized element.  I’ll admit I haven’t read his books so if his writing is actually good, let me know and I’ll be more encouraged about his film deals than I am right now.

seth-grahame-smith-david-katzenberg-02Other projects under the first-look deal include:

  • Bryantology, “in which a loser on the verge of losing his house exploits a tax loophole, invents a religion and names his home a tax exempt place of worship.  When the religion goes viral, followers show up on his doorstep and the hapless guy is suddenly a cult leader.”  [Note: this sounds very similar to the Family Guy episode “If I’m Dyin’, I’m Lyin'”]
  • Night of the Living, “a stop motion animated film about a town of peaceful monsters must learn how to fight when it is invaded by humans.”  Grahame-Smith might write the script with Tim Burton producing.
  • An adaptation of Stuart Kaminsky’s novel series about 40s Hollywood private eye Toby Peters (there have been 24 novels in the series since it was first published in 1977; the most recent one came out in 2004.  Kaminsky died in 2009).
  • Fire Teddy, which is about “an underachieving nice guy is hired as a low level employee at a corporate office. Ordered by his Machiavellian boss to fire Teddy, the newcomer can’t do it and becomes fast friends with Teddy through his futile attempts.”  That premise sounds ridiculously sitcom-y

Maybe KatzSmith will churn out some good films.  It’s tough to say because we haven’t seen their record yet beyond some short web-isdoes they did with Michael Cera and Clark Duke, and the MTV series The Hard Times of RJ Berger. Next year will be the real test at least as far Grahame-Smith’s screenwriting chops are concerned. Dark Shadows is due out May 11, 2012 and then Timur Bekmambetov’s adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter arrives on June 22, 2012.  I hope these guys are the real deal because it doesn’t look like they’re going away any time soon.

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