‘Shaft’ Reboot Is a Drama, Not a Comedy Says Producer John Davis

     August 13, 2015


As with many popular properties, a new iteration of Shaft is currently in the works, on its way back to the big screen after the original film hit theaters in 1971. New Line is behind the reboot with John Davis producing, but last month some news surfaced about that project that made folks a bit wary about the new direction. In addition to learning that Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and The Goldbergs writer Alex Barnow would be penning the script for the new Shaft movie, THR revealed that the film would have “a comedic tone, but will retain its action roots.” The prospect of a property that began as an important fixture in Blaxploitation cinema becoming a standard action comedy rubbed some people the wrong way, but it turns out the film might not be comedic in tone after all.

Haleigh recently spoke with Davis at the Television Critics Association in anticipation of his new NBC series The Player, and the producer instead said that the new film will be dramatic in tone with lighter moments scattered throughout:

“It’s a reinvention of the story so that it’s both fresh and harkens back to what we love about that character. It’s drama, but it’s going to be drama with a lot of fun moments. A lot of lighter moments.”

shaft-posterWhen asked how the film would address the fact that what was acceptable in the 70s may not play as well to today’s audiences, Davis stressed the importance of the character of John Shaft:

“But that’s just a great character. He’s just the greatest badass. You start with an amazing character – a great badass with charisma. He’s a lot like Phillip in [The Player], guys with a kind of violent past who are willing to stand up to stuff, who will go to unconventional means to do what’s right.”

Interestingly, on the subject of the age of this new Shaft, Davis said the film “could be a generational story,” which is essentially what John Singleton did with the Samuel L. Jackson-fronted 2001 film. That movie was a sequel, with Jackson playing Richard Roundtree’s nephew. It’s unclear if this new film will be a sequel, reboot, or some combination of the two, but it’s still fairly early days so a lot could change by the time it gets in front of cameras. Tone-wise, though, it sounds like the new Shaft will skew closer to the dramatic side of the scale. Which is probably smart, since Undercover Brother is about as good as a “comedic Shaft” is going to get.

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