"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" returning to big screen

Mon May 25, 2009 11:22pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A new incarnation of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" could be coming to the big screen, courtesy of the director of the original movie.

"Buffy" creator Joss Whedon isn't involved and it's not set up at a studio, but director Fran Rubel Kuzui is working on a relaunch with Vertigo Entertainment, which specializes in English-language remakes of Asian films, such as "The Grudge" and "The Departed."

While Whedon is the person most associated with the "Buffy" franchise, Kuzui and her Kuzui Enterprises have held onto the rights since the beginning, when she discovered the "Buffy" script from then-unknown Whedon. She developed the script while her husband Kaz put together the financing to make the 1992 movie, which was released by Fox.

Kuzui later helped bring back Whedon to make the TV series, which began its successful run on the WB in 1997. She received executive producer credits on "Buffy" and its spinoff, "Angel."

The new "Buffy" film, however, would have no connection to the TV series, nor would it use popular supporting characters like Angel, Willow, Xander or Spike. Kuzui and Vertigo are looking to restart the story line without trampling on the beloved existing universe created by Whedon.

One of the underlying ideas of "Buffy" allows the filmmakers to do just that: that each generation has its own vampire slayer to protect it. The goal would be to make a darker, event-sized movie that would, of course, have franchise potential.

The parties are meeting with writers and hearing takes, and later will look for a home for the project. The producers do not rule out Whedon's involvement but have not yet reached out to him. Speaking from Tokyo, Fran Kuzui said she is constantly approached not only about sequels but theater, video games and foreign remakes for "Buffy." When Vertigo's Roy Lee contacted them, they were intrigued.

"It was Roy's interest in taking Buffy into a new place that grabbed us," she said. "It was based on our respect for what he does, and his particular sensitivity to Asian filmmakers, that we wanted to work with him."

Kuzui, who is preparing to direct a movie in Japan in the fall, added: "Everything has its moment. Every movie takes on a life at some point, and this seems like the moment to do this."

(Editing by Dean Goodman)

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