[UPDATE: Buffy creator Joss Whedon has responded to the news. Check out his comments below.]

There have been rumblings of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie reboot for a couple of years now. The last time we heard, original rights holders Fran Rubel Kazui and Kaz Kazui were interested in developing a new film that would take the franchise in a “darker direction” – and they were doing it without the involvement of Buffy creator Joss Whedon.

When the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series debuted on television in 1997, it was more than a quirky cult hit – it also acted as vindication for Whedon, whose original vision for the 1992 film of the same name had been severely compromised by Kazui Enterprises.  When the movie reboot rumors surfaced, fans were understandably apprehensive about the property reverting back to Kazui, the same people who had so poorly mishandled it in the first place.

It was later reported that Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) had been offered the lead role of Buffy and that TV series star Sarah Michelle Gellar might make a cameo appearance. Thankfully, this never materialized and the project seemingly vanished.

Well, now it’s back – Warner Bros. has optioned the rights and a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie is officially underway. Charles Roven and Steve Alexander will produce the reboot alongside Roy Lee and Doug Davison of Vertigo Entertainment (How To Train Your Dragon, The Departed).

The script is being written by Whit Anderson and evidently this new take on Buffy‘s mythology was enough to spark Roven’s interest:

“Whit approached us with an exciting idea about how to update Buffy…There is an active fan base eagerly awaiting this character’s return to the big screen. We’re thrilled to team up with Doug and Roy on a re-imagining of Buffy and the world she inhabits. Details of the film are being kept under wraps, but I can say while this is not your high school Buffy, she’ll be just as witty, tough, and sexy as we all remember her to be.”

I know I won’t be alone in declaring that I’m not terribly supportive of this. Whedon has such an offbeat and specific sense of humor. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show had just the right balance of scares and laughs and it did it all with a pitch-perfect tongue-in-cheek attitude. It’s an incredibly difficult tone to achieve. In fact, look no further than the original Buffy movie for an example of how easy it is to screw up.

I’m just not convinced that this is a property that needs updating – especially when new generations of fans continue to discover Whedon’s TV show. The concept -a high school valley girl becomes a hardened vampire slayer – meshed well with Whedon’s unique style of writing, but I’m not sure how it’s going to hold up with a “darker” approach.

Update: It looks like Buffy fans aren’t the only ones saddened by this news. After the story broke, E!‘s Kristin Dos Santos sent an email to Joss Whedon asking how he felt about this development. Here’s his reply:

Kristin, I’m glad you asked for my thoughts on the announcement of Buffy the cinema film. This is a sad, sad reflection on our times, when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths—just because they can’t think of an original idea of their own, like I did with my Avengers idea that I made up myself.

Obviously I have strong, mixed emotions about something like this. My first reaction upon hearing who was writing it was, “Whit Stillman AND Wes Anderson? This is gonna be the most sardonically adorable movie EVER.” Apparently I was misinformed. Then I thought, “I’ll make a mint! This is worth more than all my Toy Story residuals combined!” Apparently I am seldom informed of anything. And possibly a little slow. But seriously, are vampires even popular any more?

I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death. But, you know, AFTER. I don’t love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I’m also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was. And there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly. I can’t wish people who are passionate about my little myth ill. I can, however, take this time to announce that I’m making a Batman movie. Because there’s a franchise that truly needs updating. So look for The Dark Knight Rises Way Earlier Than That Other One And Also More Cheaply And In Toronto, rebooting into a theater near you.

Leave me to my pain! Sincerely, Joss Whedon.

Meanwhile, Bones creator Hart Hanson just tweeted this picture of Buffy alum David Boreanaz’s reaction to the news:

What do you think? Is Buffy the Vampire Slayer ripe for re-imagining or should they leave well enough alone?

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

Update Source: E! and Twitter.