Glee continues to be a dominating force on television. It’s currently the highest rated scripted show on TV and is only being beaten out by football games in overall ratings. For the show’s upcoming Halloween episode the choice was made to feature songs from the 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But the connection between that film and Glee may not stop there. Deadline.com has reported that the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, is now in talks with Fox about directing a full on remake of the staple of midnight movies.
It’s important to stress that at this point nothing is certain and no deals have been struck. Clearly as the creator of Glee, Murphy has quite a bit of pull with Fox at the moment. The financial success of Eat, Pray, Love (which he directed) certainly doesn’t hurt either. Despite the bubble-gum pop sensibilities of Glee, Murphy has previously dipped into darker and more twisted territory before. As the creator of one of cable’s great guilty pleasures, Nip/Tuck, he’s tapped violent and sexual areas for dark comedy and done it successfully. One has to wonder if Murphy will see this as an opportunity to be grasped or if it might pigeon-hole him into musicals when he clearly has many other areas of interest.
This is not the first time there have been rumors of The Rocky Horror Picture Show being remade. Some years ago Fox was in talks with MTV to remake the film, though that never pulled together. Despite the ongoing popularity of the original it’s questionable as to whether or not a remake would really achieve the same level of success. A large part of the appeal of the original was a rather hefty amount of cheese effects and sets. The film was cheap to make and it looked that way, which ultimately has become part of it’s charm. It seems doubtful that Fox would produce a “cheap” remake. Effects would likely be bigger, sets would be more elaborate and believable and costumes would not be a thrown together. This would likely be the approach that Fox (or any major studio for that matter) would want t take, but it would completely miss the point. Virtually anything that could be “improved” in a remake (i.e. better effects, better sets, more elaborate shooting style) really shouldn’t be done. Because those lovable cracks in the original actually add to the overall experience and make it what it is.
Obviously Fox’s interest is in making money but it’s questionable exactly who a Rocky Horror Picture Show remake would be meant for. The fans of the original are likely to dismiss it out of hand and ignore it on principle. It would be impossible to make it a family friendly PG-13 without severely neutering it. Not that the film was particularly graphic (there’s only two brief and likely unintended bits of nudity) but the entire story is about unbridled notions of sexuality. To have the remake be PG-13 would be to betray much of the heart of the film, but to make it rated R would severely limit it’s marketability. It should also be pointed out that the original was actually a flop on it’s initial release and it’s fan base has been built up over decades of midnight screenings.
It seems clear at this point that Fox is going to continue to pursue a Rocky Horror Picture Show remake with or without the creator of Glee at the helm. However if he were to take the job it gives the project the best chance yet of actually getting off the ground. The original helped start the careers of Susan Sarandon, Tim Curry and Barry Bostwick as well as served as a stepping stone for musician Meatloaf. Whether or not a remake would be a similar launching point for a new cast is an open question. Murphy coming on board for the project may ultimately depend on the reception to Glee‘s upcoming Rocky Horror episode.