First produced in London’s West End as a stage musical in the early 1970s, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was adapted to film and released in 1975. Over the past 40 years, the movie — a spoof on sci-fi and horror films from earlier decades — has garnered a dedicated international cult following. Traditions of participating with the feature or actors donning costumes and lip-synching the performances in front of a screening have persisted through the decades along with the legacy of the film.
Earlier this year, FOX announced it was developing a “two-hour event” special revival of Rocky Horror with Kenny Ortega (High School Musical, Newsies) on board to direct and choreograph. Now, the new production has found its leading sexually ambiguous alien, Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
Variety is reporting Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) has been cast in the lead role in the re-imagination of the midnight movie. In the 1975 film, Tim Curry starred as Frank-N-Furter, a mad scientist whose creations rebel against him during one fateful night. The new event special is expected to air on FOX in Fall 2016.
Gail Berman (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alphas) has been set to produce while Lou Adler, who executive produced the original film, is returning to produce as well. According to Variety, this isn’t the first time Berman has been attached to a Rocky Horror revival; while she was president of FOX in 2002, she attempted to revive the cult classic in honor of the production’s 30th anniversary.
Hollywood and television networks have long been tapping into nostalgia for new films and series, as evidenced by the number of revived blockbuster franchises and planned new seasons/revivals of TV shows this year alone. The Rocky Horror Picture Show certainly has nostalgic appeal for many, and indeed an incredibly strong following that still regularly attend screenings or participate in shadow performances. So, it seemed inevitable that a Rocky Horror remake would happen, though whether fans were scrambling for it is up for debate.
That being said, FOX has chosen an actress who is both Emmy-nominated for her work on Orange is the New Black and widely recognized as an advocate for the LGBTQ community, specifically spreading awareness about those who identify as transgender. Cox has largely become an icon for people who feel marginalized in society, and Rocky Horror is a different kind of icon for that same feeling, so the casting could prove to be exactly what this cult classic revival needs.
Of course, whether FOX’s two-hour event does live up to the cult status of the 1975 film remains to be seen — with rather doubtful odds — but Cox has the potential to add even more positivity to the legacy of Rocky Horror.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show revival is expected to air Fall 2016 on FOX.