It’s about to get awfully crowded in Sherwood Forest. The enduring appeal of Robin Hood will be thoroughly tested with four Hollywood studios announcing rival versions of the classic outlaw’s tale.
Warner Bros, Sony, Disney and Lionsgate have all given the green light to major Robin Hood productions.
The most controversial proposal will turn Friar Tuck and the Merry Men into a team of Avengers-style superheroes.
The latest spate of archery-based action movies arrives just five years after Ridley Scott’s big-budget Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe, which grossed $300m but was mocked over the Australian actor’s interpretation of a Nottinghamshire accent.
The race to return the character to the multiplex echoes the 1991 battle between the Kevin Costner-starring Prince of Thieves and a “grittier” take on the legend starring Patrick Bergin with Uma Thurman as Maid Marian. The Costner version comfortably won the day at the box office.
First appearing on screen in the 1908 silent film Robin Hood and His Merry Men, and most famously embodied by the swashbuckling Errol Flynn in 1938, the folk hero has becoming increasingly attractive to studios seeking familiar source material.
Warner Bros yesterday became the latest studio to launch its arrow. Its version is scripted by the Gangster Squad and Aquaman writer Will Beall, and produced by Dan Lin and John Zaozirny, the pair behind the hit Lego Movie, the Deadline website claimed.
Lionsgate is preparing Robin Hood: Origins, described as an “edgier take” on the story which adopts a similar tone to the “how it all began” Batman Begins. The script is by Joby Harold, who is working with Guy Ritchie on a new six-film King Arthur franchise.
Disney also wants a piece of the action. Its hopes are pinned on Nottingham & Hood, a “swashbuckling family friendly adventure film in the vein of Pirates Of The Caribbean.”
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Writer Brandon Barker sold his script to Disney for a six-figure fee after submitting it to a web service which rates screenplays and refers the best ones to industry insiders. Disney is seeking to turn Robin Hood into an adventure franchise that fits its global brand.
Sony is planning a radical reinterpretation of the legend. Last year it bought a Robin Hood pitch for $1 million from Cory Goodman and Jeremy Lott which envisages Robin, Little John, Friar Tuck and Will Scarlett as an Avengers-style team of heroes from the Middle Ages.
Their story, titled simply Hood, has been described as a “high-action Fast & Furious meets Mission: Impossible-style reinvention” with Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of high-octane action movies, tipped to come on board.
Sony is understood to see Robin Hood as a “share universe” franchise, in which individual characters can be spun-off into their own films, or teamed up with other figures from the Sherwood millieu.
Deadline explained the current Hollywood fascination with men in tights. “It’s a time-tested story of heroism, action and danger; it’s a public domain property; and studios are desperate for intellectual property. Clearly, the first one to hit the target with a production start wins.”
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