Sony Scraping The Bottom Of The Barrel Of Intellectual Property With “Charlie’s Angels” Reboot
It was over forty years ago on ABC when three dissatisfied police-academy graduates became private detectives for the Charles Townsend Agency, thus becoming Charlie’s Angels and kicking off one of the most popular female-led television series of the 1970s. From TV writer-producer team of Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, the original “Charlie’s Angels” ran for 110 episodes, garnering a strong cult following in its time.
Since the original program left TV in 1981 due to diminishing popularity, there have been a couple attempts at reviving the franchise. In the early 2000s, Sony’s Columbia Pictures produced two filmic reboots, the 2000 McG directed “Charlie’s Angels” and its 2003 sequel “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.” With an updated plot and cast, these playful adaptations faired alright at the box-office, but were critically underwhelming, being nothing more than lighthearted rehashes of the bygone original series. In 2011, ABC again tried to refresh the series on television, but immediate low ratings got it canceled after only seven episodes.
Perhaps you’d expect Sony to take the hint and realize that people are not as nostalgic or invested in “Charlie’s Angels” as they were in 1976. However, in the current state of Hollywood, every major production company is looking for whatever intellectual properties they have in their libraries to capitalize on. Thus, here in 2019, yet another rendition of “Charlie’s Angels” is coming to theaters.
With Diverse Females Both Behind and In Front of the Camera, Angels Promise to Bring Feminism to the Franchise in Ways the Others Did Not
Kristin Stewart, Ella Balinska, and Naomi Scott play the three title characters in the 2019 “Charlie’s Angles.” Happily, this is a much more diverse version of the angels than we’ve ever seen before on screen—conventionally the angels have all been white excluding Lucy Lui’s character in the 2000 and 2003 movies.
Furthermore, Elizabeth Banks directs the film and is playing a version of the character Bosley. With a woman behind the camera for the first time, it is likely that the new “Charlie’s Angels” will also shed some of the misogyny and sexualization that defined previous installments in the franchise. If the trailer is any indication, the new movie will keep the original series’ tongue-and-cheek humor, but it will also be a bit self-referential, mocking the past incarnations’ flaws and turning them on their heads to empower the female protagonists.
Thus, “Charlie’s Angels” one salvation may be the fact that it will be a progressive film, an action-comedy that will defy a whitewashed Hollywood and radiate with crucial feminine energy in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Despite Creative Innovation, the Franchise has Minimal Chance for Popular Revival
This is all worth celebrating, but from an industry perspective, we have to question whether or not audiences will actually take the time to go see the new “Charlie’s Angels.” Make a reference to the original series, drop the name Bosely or the Charles Townsend Agency to young people at Comic-Con and you will probably receive blank stares. Perhaps older audiences are interested in the “Charlie’s Angels” universe, but they are not the main demographic going to the movies—especially not big-budget action movies like this one.
Elizabeth Banks, who also wrote the screenplay for the new movie, is setting the flick in the same diegesis of the original series, with direct ties to that universe. She is essentially trying to do with “Charlie’s Angels” what JJ Abrams did with “Star Trek.” The difference is that “Star Trek” has one of the most committed fan bases on earth and when Abrams revived it in 2009, there were still millions of people curious to see more of that same universe. “Charlie’s Angels” does not have that same longevity to it. The title is remembered as nothing more than an outdated show from the seventies, and a so-so couple of films from the turn of the millennium.
In the best of circumstances, “Charlie’s Angels” will take the route of Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man” and be an unexpected hit based off of a B-rate property. More likely however, it will fall into the ether of glossy Hollywood magic paired with quality talent, but not having enough of an audience for it to gain much momentum.
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