Universal Pictures is developing a big screen reboot of the classic James Garner television series The Rockford Files for star Vince Vaughn.
David Levien and Brian Koppelman (who penned the recently announced Runner, Runner) will script the film, with Vaughn and his sister Victoria producing through their Wild West Picture Show production company.
The Rockford Files was an Emmy Award-winning detective series about a down-on-his-luck private detective with a copper Firebird, who lived in a caravan on the Californian beach. His low-level cases were often dangerous, and sometimes he would work the case without getting paid (despite his best efforts). He was helped out by his over-protective father, his con-man friend Angel and the exasperated Detective Dennis Becker.
The show, created by Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell, ran on NBC from 1974-1980, and it featured a catchy tune by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter. What is interesting about the Rockford Files’ run on television was that it wasn’t cancelled due to poor ratings, but because of star James Garner’s poor health. However, Garner did return to the role for a series of television movies in the mid ’90s.
In 2010 Universal tried to get a reboot of the show off the ground starring Dermot Mulroney and produced by Steve Carrell and David Shore, but that effort never made it past the pilot stage. This new attempt at The Rockford Files for the big screen, has probably been helped by the recent success of 21 Jump Street, which has grossed over $120 million at the domestic box office.
Personally speaking, I feel that Vaughn’s casting is something of a mistake. Sure he has the likeable down-on-his-luck vibe that was Rockford’s stock-in-trade, but this new movie could veer too close to mockery or be too self-referential, much like 21 Jump Street and the Starsky and Hutch movie (which also starred Vaughn). Better choices would be Josh Brolin, George Clooney or even Mel Gibson (who brought Garner’s Maverick to the screen in 1994) – actors who could balance the humor with a bit of grit that might make The Rockford Files more exciting for today.