Why does Warner Brothers hate Joss Whedon, and you? The baffling tale of Buffy’s resurrection on the big screen.

A few years ago I saw a movie called Oldboy. It’s a twisted South Korean film that is far too complicated to describe in one paragraph, but the gist of it is that someone goes to unbelievable lengths – considerable time, effort and expense over the course of several years – in order to exact revenge on his nemesis.

You’d have to really, really hate someone to want this kind of revenge.

Episode 1 type of hate.

And although it might seem hyperbolic, I feel like this is happening to Joss Whedon right now, at the hands of the Warner Brothers studio executives.

But I feel like WB is not just trying to torture Joss, but all faithful Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, myself included.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is being rebooted as a movie – and Warner Brothers wants us to hate it

I’m not sure what we, the faithful Buffy followers, did to deserve this form of horrible punishment?

We’re actually some of the most loyal and passionate fans in the world: we watched the show for seven years, we bought DVDs by the millions, we read the best-selling Season 8 comic (which is the top-selling comic in the world without a Marvel or DC logo on the cover)…I’m not sure what else we could do to show our unwavering love and affection for the Buffyverse?

But despite our best efforts, Warner Brothers seems to hate us.

Like millions of fans worldwide, I have been waiting for the revival of the Buffy franchise on either the small or the big screen. After all, vampires are back, right? Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries…why not resurrect the series that inspired them all? Surely the fans would be back, and with any luck there would be a new audience as well.

And WB, no doubt smelling green like a succubus smells blood, decided to do just that. They proudly announced that one of the most rabid fan-bases on the planet would be satiated, because finally, Buffy was back, and on the big screen no less!

Step #1 in bringing back the magic: tell Joss Whedon to fuck off!

It’s possible that there is no writer more intertwined with their pop-culture creation than Joss is with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Throughout seven seasons (and five seasons of the equally great Angel) we’ve enjoyed a sense of continuity and cohesive storytelling that is not only rare among long-running television series’ – it’s non-existent.

While creators are famous for dumping successful shows and moving on to the newest shiny object, leaving their story full of gaping holes and head-scratching plot turns (have you seen X-Files? Lost?)  Joss stuck by Buffy with the same fervour as one of his die-hard fans.

When Warner Brothers immediately announced they wanted to elbow Joss out of the equation, they sent two very loud, very clear messages to Buffy fans: 1) this movie is not for you, and 2) we know absolutely nothing about what makes this franchise great.

Step #2: decide to completely re-cast!

If a reboot or a sequel comes years (or decades) after the original, no one is going to complain about some fresh faces on the screen. After all, no one wants to see a geriatric Sean Connery hobble through a fight scene as James Bond, or a 60-something Carrie Fisher dust off Jabba’s revealing slave-girl outfit.

But the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are all very young – hell, the show just ended in 2003! A quick Google search will reveal that every main character looks nearly identical after just 7 years, and stranger still, many have even expressed interest in participating in a movie.

Why further alienate fans by recasting? This seems like a combination of cost-cutting and pure ignorance.

The recent Sex & the City films were a huge financial success – could you imagine if just a few years after the series ended, the studio announced they were going to cast younger, sexier versions of Carrie Bradshaw and the girls? Or if the once-rumoured Friends movie went ahead with a completely different group of coffee-shop dwelling urbanites?

Step #3: hire a novice screenwriter!

Enter novice scribe Whit Anderson, who’s IMDB profile reveals three acting credits, and zero writing credits.
Yes, you read that correctly. Zero. None. Nada. If Anderson has written anything more prolific than a high school book report in her 29 years, it is not documented anywhere on the Interwebs as far as I could tell.

This decision, again, screams of cost-cutting – the WB feels like the Buffy name alone will bring in the fans, so why bother hiring an experienced writer?

Save some cash, throw a script together and no one will know the difference.

The numbers don’t lie – screw over the nerds and they’ll get their revenge

If one thing has been proven at the box office, it’s that a fanbase demands authenticity. The more rabid the fanbase, the more authentic the movie needs to be.

The success of Iron Man, Harry Potter, Kick-Ass and Lord of the Rings came far before their opening weekends – positive word of mouth spread like wildfire when the loyal fans got the sense that their franchise was being handled with care – taken seriously.

That the people helming these projects cared just as much as they did about making a true, meaningful transition from the page to the screen.

And we’ve seen the opposite – when Daredevil, The Punisher, Hulk, Catwoman and Aeon Flux hit the screen with absolutely no care or consideration for the source material, it resulted in poor performance, dismal reviews, and no hope to turn the series into a franchise.

And the ultimate disaster is when an extremely popular franchise gets mangled beyond repair due to ignorance and neglect: anyone remember Batman & Robin, a sequel that was so ridiculously bad it stopped a billion-dollar franchise in its tracks? (maybe not surprisingly, this was a Warner Bros. movie)

Or when George Lucas decided to launch the first Star Wars prequel with Darth Vader as a sassy toddler and a farting alien as a bumbling sidekick – a mistake that angered loyal fans to such a degree that many have left and never looked back?

The Buffy reboot is on track to be this type of disaster.

Blood is in the water, and Buffy fans can smell it. This entire project already reeks of its complete disregard for our loyalty, and casting rumors of Megan Fox and Heather Morris (the deadpan cheerleader on TV’s ‘Glee’) are simply a slap in the face.

In conclusion: Warner Brothers, don’t be idiots.

At this point you have to realize that advertising dollars don’t sell movies anymore – WE DO.

Look back at the massive failures of the past, and realize what a huge disaster this could become once you’ve pissed off legions of Buffy fans worldwide.

Better yet, rethink this process, and imagine the financial windfall if this project were treated with just a small modicum of care.

Apologize to Joss. Beg him to write and direct. Get the original cast back. All of them. Loosen the purse strings and give us a reasonable budget. And before you know it, you’ll have millions of fans working as your marketing team (for free, no less) trumpeting your project 24/7 with genuine enthusiasm.

And I will be leading the charge, stake in hand.

Rant over.

Love you guys,

Blake xo

PS: Comments are open – flame away.

PPS: Getting over a massive cold/fever/flu that has lasted way too long – with any luck I’ll be blogging far more regularly in 2011!

PPPS: Happy New Years!

PPPPS: In case you’re interested, here is what some of the cast thinks of the Buffy reboot:

Eliza Dushku (‘Faith’) was more blunt: “Joss [Whedon] made the Buffster [and without] him… I just don’t trust the girl. Or the world.”

Amber Benson (‘Tara’) jokes “Apparently, they’re rebooting ‘Buffy‘ [without] Joss Whedon: I told him that asking to play the title role would frighten the Studio Execs.”

Actress Emma Caulfield (‘Anya’) reacted to the news simply: “ahahahhaha..”

Anthony Stewart Head (‘Giles’) addressed the issue directly: “The bottom line is if a movie was ever to be made, it should be made with Joss Whedon, whether it’s a retrospective or not. But it would be madness to do it without him. [The Kazuis] have the rights to because they have the rights to the original movie, but it should be interesting to see. It may be a bit like watching a car wreck.”

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29 Responses to Why does Warner Brothers hate Joss Whedon, and you? The baffling tale of Buffy’s resurrection on the big screen.

  1. Daryl Hooke says:

    You are right on every count. Studios have been desperately aiming for ‘sure things’ to recoup the expense of making a movie. This looks like a ‘sure fail’. Re-cast the original stars, let them have aged 7 years (Buffy as a young mom? – Why not?) and let all hell break loose Joss Whedon style and we’ll ALL see it. But this… this is destined to fail. It’s frankly amazing that they don’t see it.

  2. Ben Calverley says:

    Could not agree more with this. There is no Buffy without Joss Whedon, the reason the original film sucked was because he wasn’t given enough control over it. How Warner Bros. can seriously consider doing this without Whedon. He brings his own army of loyal fans to anything he does and is bound to become hot property with The Avengers movie. The truth is this movie will only cash in on the name, take advantage of the fans who will see it out of loyalty to the Buffy franchise and will probably destroy any chance the true fans have of seeing a proper screen return for Buffy.
    Another brilliantly written article by the way.

  3. I agree with everything you said, save 1:

    They can’t really do anything to bring Joss back because he turned them down in the first place. Behold:


    Should the studio have waited until he had free time and then approached him again about it? Probably. Going ahead with the reboot without him sounds a lot like Comedy Central’s decision to release the unaired episodes of Chapelle’s Show and alienate the creative voice behind it forever. But it sounds like he needs a break from that whole ‘verse in the first place. I love Buffy. I love Angel more. But I can’t fault Whedon if he wants to put it to rest. We will forever have our tv on dvd.

    P.S. I won’t be watching this trainwrek, though. I’m with you there.

  4. philbyday says:

    Buffy being my 2nd fave tv show of all time, a reboot, sequel, reinvisioning or however they’re trying 2 market this is completely a slam not only 2 Joss, but 2 those of us that have kept up w/ the Buffed One yrs after its exodus.
    In the “stranger things have happened dept.” Who knows, a quality piece of work “could” come from this; MelBrooks/TheProducers style. Not likely, but possible.
    I can only hope that no1 efs w/ my fave tv show (PicketFences) ’cause then all bets r off. Excellent posting as usual, Blake!!

  5. Nancy says:

    Awesome post and very true. Hollywood needs to wake up to the new world and stop making movies for 12 year old boys. Studios need to let directors make their movies and listen to the audience. Plus we would like movies with a story, strong acting not with the glossy dazzling of F/X and 3D to hide limited acting and little story.
    Hope you too have a Hothy New Year!

  6. John says:

    Julie Benz (Darla) also responded. Someone said, “You CANNOT reboot Buffy without Joss Whedon!”. Julie replied: “Truer words have not been stated!”. I REALLY don’t want this made unless Joss Whedon and the entire ORIGINAL “Scooby Gang” is cast. Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy), Nicholas Brendon (Xander), Alyson Hannigan (Willow), and Anthony Stewart Head (Giles). I don’t care HOW old some of them are right now. Cast em’ Warner Bros.

  7. Excellent commentary and absolutely justified. Whedon fans unite!!

  8. TripleAsterisk says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it again. TPTB today in movies are aiming at who else but the demographic that’s ‘in’ at the moment. And as of late, I speak of none other than the Harry Potter reading, Team Edward/Jacob following, and Bieber worshipping ‘Tweens.’ These are the mini-people that Hollywood thinks will be going to see the crap that it pumps out year after year, at least 10 or 20 times in a row, and they do just that! And what’s in right now but to reboot or remake old or older movies and redistribute it to a new audience like a polished turd. Buffy the series ended in 2003. The average tween was 7 years old. Warner Bros. says that ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ is coming out soon to a theatre near you! The tween thinks to itself.. ‘hmm I’ve heard of that series when I was little but I really don’t know much if anything about it. BUT vampires are so kickass right now and ALL my friends love vampires!!! Besides.. the girl from Glee is gonna be in it and I LOVE Glee!!! So I think I should go see this BTVS movie multiple times so that I know each line by heart and then go to school the next day and discuss it with Johnny and Susie.’ And then Hollywood watches the money pile up and moves on to destroy the next remake of a classic. As to leaving out Joss? All Warner Bros. sees in dollar signs and it left him out of the first movie so why not do it again? Because hey, after the reboot, they can always start a Buffy The Vampire Slayer series on TV, Right??

  9. adamkeeper says:

    it does suck, but have you seen the imdb cast list for the avengers? mr wheedon has little to worry from this little blip that will flop quite badly. there is still so much milage in Buffy as you point out, I always wanted to see Seth green in a mini series living in the wilderness learning to control his werewolfism. the hope, as always is that there will be something in the pipeline that’ll blow this crap out of the water, I have no doubt that there will be. Buffy lite in 3d will be long forgotten after it’s fastrack to DVD release. although if it is Megan fox I will be a bit sick in my mouth.

  10. andyfooley says:

    With Buffy Joss Whedon created a whole world with characters in it that were three dimensional, had heart and soul. No matter how crazy the story lines the show had a solid moral core the characters felt real and we cared about them. This reboot is just another callous money making scheme by executives. Why bother creating a new character or idea that is defined by its times as Buffy was. Instead just take something and mold it into whatever fad is in season now and with it take away what made it special to people all over the world. Buffy the T.V series may not have ended the way we all wanted it too, but I would rather leave it in the grave than have this shuffling teen pop zombie come to sully its reputation.

    I really enjoyed the article just can’t understand why they want to do this.

  11. Saranga says:

    thank you for posting the cast reactions to the film. I hadn’t seen those. I particualrly appreciate Emma Caulfield’s.

  12. Anthony says:

    This is a great article! I agree with you 100%! I didn’t even know this was going on, but now that I do, I am baffled at the direction WB is taking with this reboot. It is deconstruction for the sake of deconstruction. There is no reason I can think of for any of this nonsense. I won’t be going to see this garbage.

  13. Vitor says:

    I swear I’m a faithful follower of Buffy, but the reviews said so far by both fans and the show’s cast and production are somewhat hasty. It’s an unknown writer? Yes it is. Do not have anyone who played in the cult series devoted fantastic and we all idolize? No, it does not. Without Joss Whedon, Jane Espenson, Steven. S. Rob Des Denight or hotel? Yes, without. The movie may be a failure, something similar to what happened in the original film? Almost 100% sure. Or not. Not because we have no Buffy Sarah Michelle Gellar than Buffy can have a good, just a good production, if they want to do, let do, and if you succeed? We, fans of the series, not like the original film, but many people find it fun and enjoy the theme. Please wait for the new Buffy arrives and kill off some vampires, and then we will express our opinions. It’s sad not having the creator of the franchise, and unfair, but let’s wait for the movie to get what we say, shall we? At least for now, we need to remain neutral on what they are preparing for Buffy, and meanwhile continue reading our lovely Eighth Season and watching seven years of fight, friendship, courage, love, difficulty, vampires, demons, robots, witches, beasts, Old Ones, and, of course, our short and blonde Vampire Slayer, eternized by Sarah Michelle Gellar in Joss Whedon’s hands. That’s all. Be patient, Buffy fans!

  14. Tad Kilgore says:

    I think we have to accept that WB is driven purely by profit and sees this as a franchise divorced from its creative source and also from its original cast. This is a product that can be re-skinned to re-target a new demographic. Or so goes the thinking…

    I sincerely doubt that the product we will see will bear any likeness to what we know. Lesbian witches… lacks family values & won’t pass muster in the Age of the Tea Party. This reboot will be about sundering the franchise from its original fan base & re-purposing to a new market.

    Damn it. Great blog BTW.

  15. zenexo says:

    Great post. I agree on everything you said. Studios usually dont give a shit about the fans. The best thing that could happen to this Buffy reboot is if it gets canned. Other than that, there is probably no chance of this movie being good.

  16. vkatnyte says:

    Its all business politics really.
    Joss is down with Marvel for the foreseeable future
    with the Avengers, and until that shows
    any profit, you won’t see him on any WB backlot any
    time soon. Also once you sign the dotted line as a director for the WB,
    you’re contracted to do films for the company, sometimes films you may not
    want to direct. At least with Marvel he has a little leg room to play with.
    However Disney owns Marvel and if Avengers does really well expect a possible
    fight over him.

  17. OMG! I know how you feel. I just love Joss Whedon’s works. And I really think that GOD hate him…
    I remember when he was writing The Runaways (volume 3, I guess…), and suddenly the comic just stopped.
    About the movie, i just too afraid to comment! o.O
    Hope u get better!

  18. Ronald says:

    My boycott level is now around a 7 / 10 for this movie !

  19. Oli Palmer says:

    Oh come on, Pee-wee would make a great Spike. :p

  20. Why!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????? Hahahaha. I didn’t know any of this, so thanks for being so informative. Buffy was my idol growing up. I watched the series throughout my early teens and it pains me to learn about this things. I really think a comeback with the original cast would be awesome. 😦

  21. C. Ryan Kirkpatrick says:

    Great, great article. Agree with you on every point.

  22. C. Ryan Kirkpatrick says:

    Great, great article. Agree with you on every point. That being said, FIREFLY is still my favorite Whedon show.

  23. Angel Owens says:

    I agree that Joss Whedon should be involved heavily in the Buffy movie. Maybe we could start a petition to get the original cast in the movie, with Whedon writing and directing. Buffy was one of the greatest shows ever!!! And I love the original cast. I cannot imagine a decent movie with out the originals. It would be very sad. It could even be about all of them living a normal life and the world being at peace, when all of a sudden they are called out of their normal lives because EVIL is back in town. Thanks anyway for a great post and for caring about Buffy and Buffy fans.

  24. Oreadno1 says:

    I’ll put it this way very simply: Without Joss Whedon’s participation, you could hold an AK-47 to my head and I wouldn’t go see the Buffy reboot. There is no Buffy without Joss. Trying to make Buffy without Joss would be like trying t make Gone With The Wind without Margaret Mitchell’s book—an exercise in futility and inanity and an egregious waste of money.

  25. Meaghan says:

    This is totally ridiculous! I think you are right, fans are going to be so disappointed by this, I’m disappointed already. The fact that the actors are horrified about this should say something. Oh, Buffy. I think I’ll wait til this is on Netflix if I decide to see it. To me, I think I should just cherish the seasons and forget that this is even happening.

  26. I was so excited when I first heard the words Buffy movie, but then when I heard Joss wasn’t going to be involved . . . my heart sank. I could somewhat understand the “new cast” idea if they want to get young and fresh and hip with the teens today (understand, but definitely not prefer!) – but without Joss? BAD IDEA. And the casting makes me nervous. I had also heard that Megan Fox rumour – terrifying! The deadpan Glee cheerleader may actually be half decent in the role. Maybe. Hard to say, since she’s pure deadpan in Glee!

    One comment you said made me chuckle though: “like a succubus smells blood” . . . more “like a succubus smells. . . sex?” Heh.

  27. Bookspread says:

    Oh, geez… where do we go from here?

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