The past decade may someday be known to cinephiles as the Age of Reboots (along with the Age of Superheros and maybe the Age of Interconnected Multi-Media Universes), and while seemingly every major film of the 80s has a reboot or remake in development, one of them has thus far proven a tough nut to crack: the 1985 comedy classic Fletch, which catapulted star Chevy Chase toward the top of the A-list.
An updated version of Fletch has been in development for a very long time. The character of investigative reporter Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher appeared in a series of eleven mystery novels by the late Gregory McDonald, the first of which was adapted as the mystery-comedy starring Chase. That film was followed by a sequel, Fletch Lives in 1989.
The last real news on this project was the report that Warner Bros. had hired former Seinfeld writer and producer David Mandel to pen the screenplay (Mandel has since left the project). Now we know which actor will take on the lead role: THR reports that Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis will play I. M. Fletcher in Fletch Won.
After a stream of writers and actors came and went - Kevin Smith and Jason Lee were attached at one point, as were Zack Braff and Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence - David List has been named as the latest scribe to take on the reboot, whose latest draft was approved by the studio. As for the reboot's story, the film - which shares the title with a prequel novel by McDonald - is described thusly:
Fletch Won is an origin story, described as a gritty action comedy with heart and more tonally in line with McDonald's novels than the Chase movies.
A "gritty action comedy with heart" is somewhat in line with the type of director the producers are seeking, one who could capture "a Beverly Hills Cop or Midnight Run vibe." We can assume this version of Fletch will rely less on a series of snappy one-liners ("Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia. And the Beatles' White Album.") and import much more of the actual plots of the source novels - or just a plot in general.
Sudeikis spent a decade on SNL before moving on to features, but despite engaging appearances on shows like Eastbound & Down and 30 Rock and in such movies as Hall Pass and Horrible Bosses, he's never exactly been a household name. Last summer's hit We're The Millers was a clear signal that his star is on the rise, and if Fletch Won is a success, he could be headlining his own comedy franchise - he's returning for Horrible Bosses 2 this November, but those films rely on their ensemble more than any single star.
When fans think of Chevy Chase in his heyday, the Fletch movies are usually the first titles which come to mind. Going back to the source material is perhaps the best route, which will help distance the reboot from the Chase films while maintaining some kind of bridge to the past. Stay tuned for more news as a shortlist of directors should surface soon.
Fletch Won is in development at Warner Bros.