Warner Brothers have picked up the film adaptation rights to novelist Gregory MacDonald’s popular Fletch series of mysteries. The studio doesn’t have a writer or director attached to a potential film yet, but the Hollywood Reporter is saying that producers Steve Golin and Michael Sugar “are aiming for a reimagining, not a remake, and hope to make an smart action comedy that plays out on a bigger canvas than the previous movies.”
While Universal had good luck with the two films they made starring Chevy Chase as the titular unconventional investigative reporter in the 1980s, the character has been absent from cinema screens for over 20 years.
For most of the last decade, the rights were held by the Weinstein Company, who had first snatched them up as a potential project for writer/director Kevin Smith. Smith had often stated his admiration for MacDonald’s writing style, claiming that he learned writing dialogue from the Fletch novels. However, Smith and Weinstein head Harvey Weinstein were unable to come to terms on who would play the lead role. Bill Lawrence, creator of the television series Scrubs, also turned in a screenplay, loosely based on MacDonald’s 1985 novel Fletch Won. Hot Tub Time Machine director Steve Pink also took a stab at a script though that went nowhere as well.
Hopefully, Warners will have better luck with getting Fletch back on to the big screen than the Weinstein Company did. The book series has a wealth of great material and while the Chevy Chase films were fun, they were a little sillier than even the light-hearted tone of the novels. Done right, they could launch an entertaining franchise for the studio.