After recent updates regarding a release for the next Shaft reboot and the announcement of a Super Fly remake, it's now reported that Warner Bros. is revitalising another 70's Blaxploitation classic featuring another woman in the lead role with Cleopatra Jones being targeted for big-budget treatment. And the studio is looking to the co-creator of the historical drama series Underground to help make it.
Cleopatra Jones was a 1973 Blaxploitation action film, but unlike many movies in the same genre at the time it was also partially a comedy, with a fun spoofy tone to it. Jones was basically a female James Bond, who worked for the US Government, whilst posing as an overseas model. She drove a Corvette Stingray which was stuffed with automatic weapons, and she had the obligatory mastery of all martial arts techniques. The character particularly hated drug lords and her sanctioned battle of wits with 'Mommy' (Shelley Winters) forms the bulk of the plot. Jones was played by Tamara Dobson, an African-American actress and real-life fashion model who was well-known for her height and subsequently recognized by the Guinness book of world records as the 'Tallest Leading Lady in Film'. Despite being a relative critical and financial success at the time, only one sequel was made in 1975, called Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold.
Now Deadline has reported that Warner Bros. is intending to remake the 1973 film for modern audiences. To that end, they have hired Misha Green to write the script and produce the intended movie. Green is best known as co-creator and executive producer of Underground, but she has also written for Heroes and Sons of Anarchy. She is also currently working with Jordan Peele on the HBO horror series Lovecraft Country. The studio is said to be keen to promote the original comparisons of the lead character as a female Bond-type, and believe it could generate a lot of interest. At this early stage there is no hint regarding casting, a director, or an intended release date.
The 1973 film drew some praise from critics at the time, with its anti-drug pro-community message and the theme of female empowerment. Unlike other Blaxploitation films it was also noticeably free from explicitly sexual scenes, and had intentionally humorous dialogue. There have been other attempts to revive the Blaxploitation heroines for new audiences. Hulu was said to be updating Foxy Brown for a TV series last year and Beyoncé appeared in Austin Powers in Goldmember as Foxxy Cleopatra, an amalgamation of all those characters. Jackie Brown was also Quentin Tarantino's homage to the sub-genre with the great Pam Grier in 1997.
It's not yet known whether the film will be set in the 70's or updated to the present day. Given Jones' fondness for martial arts and gadgets, it's likely to lean towards being an action/comedy, but Green could provide some surprises and twists for this iconic character. We'll bring you more news about Cleopatra Jones as we get it.