By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist November 1, 2011 at 2:28AM
Can New Regency succeed where The Weinstein Company (gave up) and eventually failed? We'll soon see, as the rights to the long developing "Fraggle Rock" expired over at Harvey's house, with Deadline revealing that New Regency has picked up the reins in a project that is now starting over from scratch.
The journey of "Fraggle Rock" to the big screen hasn't been an easy one. Writer/director Cory Edwards has been very vocal about his frustrations in working with the Weinsteins in adapting the beloved TV show. In the summer of 2010, he said " I am struggling to stay in control of my own movie" noting that the studio was concerned it was "not edgy enough." Then, this past spring, Edwards said the project was in a "deep coma." But it seemed that there was new life when in June, news hit that Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears and guitarist Babydaddy had been hired on to write the music. But in a recent update to his blog regarding the project's new home, Edwards spills reveals his version of what happened, and says he's not sure where it will go next.
" I cut storyboard sequences together, I had a lead actor secured, I had a top music artist ready to produce the soundtrack, and from what I was told, I had a script that everyone liked. But as the studio experienced a regime change, new execs had other plans for 'Fraggle Rock,'" Edwards wrote. And oh yeah, remember that bit about the studio wanting an "edgy" take on the material? That apparently meant adding in a "Guitar Hero" centered sequence in a version of the movie the Edwards compares to Sony's -- admittedly, hugely successful -- take on "The Smurfs."
Adding that the Weinsteins essentially stop returning his calls and allowed the rights to expire, Edwards currently has no idea if he's even still involved at this point, but with a new writer being bought and the project essentially being started over from scratch, somehow we doubt it. Here's what he had to say over at his blog:
The short version is that Weinstein Company’s rights to the Fraggle Rock movie have finally expired and Henson has made a deal with New Regency — a deal to start… all… over. Thanks for all the emails and Twitter messages about it, but it has very little to do with me. Everyone wants to know if this is good news for me, or if I will be involved with the rebirth of this project, or what the next step is.
The simple answer is, I don’t know.
All I can tell you is this: For the past year, Weinstein Company sat on the rights to Fraggle Rock until they expired, then quietly let the project die — without telling me, of course. I’ve found that, in this business, no one ever actually FIRES you. You just stop getting information. Projects don’t ever get killed, they just slowly evaporate (like Yoda dissolving away as his little robe just sinks to the floor) — peacefully, calling no attention to their demise. Well, I noticed its demise, believe me. For any Fraggle fans out there, please know that I was pushing and pushing and doing everything I could to get that studio to see the value of the movie and the value of my vision for it. I cut storyboard sequences together, I had a lead actor secured, I had a top music artist ready to produce the soundtrack, and from what I was told, I had a script that everyone liked. But as the studio experienced a regime change, new execs had other plans for Fraggle Rock. If you read my blog, you know that the number one request was to make the Fraggles “edgy.” Yaaaaay. The funniest part of that era was that once “The Smurfs” came out, I saw that they pretty much did everything to that movie that I was being pressured to do with the Fraggles. There was even a Guitar Hero scene. I kid you not. We were headed towards a very, very Smurfy version of Fraggle Rock, kids. So perhaps everything happened for the best. (And “Smurfs” has made a Smurf-pile of money, so what do I know?)
At the end of the day, I wasn’t meant with so much opposition as I was with quiet indifference. I was ready to bring in a new writer, hear the studio’s concerns and even start from page one, all over again. But I was told, “We don’t know what we want to do… we’ll let you know.” After hearing nothing for a year, I was finally able to confirm a rumor that Weinstein Co. had finally let the project die and Henson was going elsewhere. To be clear, while Henson was very supportive of my script, my deal to write and direct was with Weinstein. So as Henson takes the project to New Regency, they are starting over. I have no deal in place. No one owes me anything. But I sure would like to put my three years of energy, research and vision back to good use if they want to talk. I’m doing my best to be available to Henson and I will reach out to the folks at New Regency. But these new players will do what they feel is best for the Fraggles. I’d love to share what I think and I’d still love to be the one to make it happen. Only time will tell.
Thank you again for all of your support and encouragement over the course of this project. I’ll let you know any news if I have it.
It's unfortunate Edwards poured so much energy and time into a project that the Weinsteins eventually let wither away, but probably bet for it move on to a studio/production team that will hopefully be more enthusiastic about it. And let's face it, for all the arthouse clout, the Weinsteins haven't exactly been big players in kiddie fare. The Jim Henson Company and the Montecito Picture Company will produce the film, so let's see if they'll reach out to Edwards who clearly has an overwhelming passion for the material. But at the very least, let's hope this next version takes their cues from "The Muppets" instead of "Alvin & The Chipmunks."