Indie director Spike Lee recently had his first stab at the art of the remake with last year’s Oldboy, which based on Park Chan-wook’s 2003 film of the same name. The experiment can’t exactly be called a success; critic responses to Lee’s film were very mixed and it bombed at the box office, making less than $5 million worldwide (the production budget was $30 million).
Since then, Lee has moved back into more familiar territory with Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, a romantic horror comedy about humans addicted to drinking blood, which was partially funded through Kickstarter and filmed in just 16 days. Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is currently in post-production, and it looks like Lee’s next project will be both a remake and a return to his roots.
Deadline reports that Lee is now working with Showtime to develop a half-hour series remake of She’s Gotta Have It, his breakthrough 1986 film that starred Tracy Camilla Johns as Nola Darling, a woman with three very different lovers who refuses to choose just one of them. The TV series will update the story with a new, contemporary take on the characters, and will be used as a lens through which to explore, “Lee’s unique and provocative points of view about race, gender, sexuality, relationships, and the gentrification in Brooklyn.”
She’s Gotta Have It isn’t the easiest of properties to reboot, especially thirty years after the original came out. Its ideas about gender and sexuality in particular are less provocative now than they were in 1986, since it’s now generally considered more socially acceptable for women to have multiple casual relationships or even engage in polyamory. A story about a New York woman with three boyfriends now sounds more like an episode concept for Sex and the City than a particularly shocking premise.
Lee’s views on race and gentrification are likely to provoke more of a reaction, given that the director was recently caught up in a debate over accusations that his impassioned rant on the gentrification of African-American neighborhoods in New York City was hypocritical. Lee was first called out by New York Daily News‘ Errol Louis in an article titled “The Gentrification of Spike Lee,” and the subject of the changing face of Brooklyn was also addressed in a follow-up article by The New York Times‘ A.O. Scott, titled “Whose Brooklyn Is It Anyway?”
Lee then responded in an update on his Kickstarter page that was somewhat confusingly addressed to Scott despite attacking the arguments made by Louis. The conversation certainly got very heated, and it’s possible that it spurred Lee towards conveying his thoughts on gentrification through a TV series. It’s certainly quite telling that gentrification has been named as one of the central themes of the She’s Gotta Have It series, whereas in the original film it wasn’t a particularly prominent subject. She’s Gotta Have It is arguably one of Lee’s best films, so it will be interesting to see whether it works as well when remade for the 21st century.
We’ll keep you updated on She’s Gotta Have It as development continues.