As you're likely well aware by now, a GREMLINS reboot is currently in the works. You're also just as likely to be aware this isn't the first time such a project has been threatened. There have been several attempts to make a new GREMLINS feature for years - either as a sequel to 1989's GREMLINS: THE NEW BATCH or as a complete remake - but one after the other have petered out. Why should we believe it's really happening now?
But it does indeed seem to be happening this time. A screenwriter, Carl Ellsworth, is currently tapping out a draft, while heavy-hitters like Steven Spielberg and Chris Columbus (both integral to the original film's success, of course) are on board to produce. In this era, where marquee brand recognition is at a premium and studios are as franchise-crazy as ever, it appears those pesky gremlins will once again be causing mayhem at the multiplex.
One name not attached to the new version: Joe Dante. The director of the first two films is not involved in the reboot which, if I may editorialize for a second, is preposterous and a genuine shame. The director is still working, however; he's got a new movie called BURYING THE EX slated for theatrical/VOD release on June 19th. (Always nice to see the real pros still plugging away.) I had the chance to talk to Mr. Dante about his latest film, but was also fortunate enough to talk to him about that persistent GREMLINS reboot a little.
I asked Dante if he had finally washed his hands of this new GREMLINS flick, as well as whether or not he actually thought it would see the light of day:
It's not that I've washed my hands of it, it's that no one has asked me to be involved with it, they want to do it themselves. Fine, maybe this will be the time the rumors turn out to be true. Or not. As you know, this has been going on for years now, there's always a story that somebody has been asked to write or direct it, then something happens and they don't do it. I don't know if you have to take this with a grain of salt every time you hear about it. It's a complicated project, carved of the expectations of, how much is it going to be like the original? And the fact that the technology has completely changed; the first two movies were entirely dictated by the technology. The reason those movies are what they are is because of what we were able to do or not do. And now, you can do anything, anything you can imagine. The question is, why? Why do we want to make another one of these? And if we do, how is it going to be different from the first? If it's so different, the people who liked the originals aren't going to embrace it, you don't want to do that. But, on the other hand, the technology is really outdated now. Are they going to look the same, are they not going to look the same? Do they have the same properties? There's a lot of stuff attached to that franchise, and I think juggling it again is going to be a challenge.
Dante also talked a little about making GREMLINS 2, which he didn't initially want to do:
When I was asked to do the sequel, which I originally turned down because it was so hard to make the first one... The only reason I decided to make the sequel was because years later they had tried to make a sequel and couldn't figure out how to do it, and they really wanted another one. So they said to me, "If you give us a couple of cans of film with gremlins in them next summer, you can do whatever you want." And they gave me three times the money we had to make the first one. So I made Gremlins 2, which was essentially about how there didn't need to be a sequel to Gremlins. [Laughs]
I noted that many sequels nowadays are self-referential in the same way (e.g. 22 JUMP STREET), and Dante laughed:
Yeah, sometimes you have to, because there's no other reason to do it. I'm as in the dark as you are on the new project, so I can't give you any info.
The full interview with Joe Dante will go online closer to BURYING THE EX's June 19th release.