The vast majority of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories exist within the public domain and can be freely tackled by anybody, which is why Sherlock Holmes is the single most heavily-adapted fictional character in history. There’ve been so many reinventions of the iconic detective over the last 100 years, but for some reason, the 21st Century has proved incredibly fertile ground.
In the last two decades or so alone, we’ve seen Robert Downey Jr., Ian McKellen, Will Ferrell and Henry Cavill play Sherlock in feature films, while the television side of things has also been well covered with Matt Frewer, Richard Roxburgh, James D’Arcy, Jonathan Pryce, Rupert Everett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller all donning the deerstalker at various points. Not to mention Netflix have cast Henry Lloyd-Hughes in The Irregulars as the streaming service also finds themselves in the midst of developing Sherlock Junior on the back of Enola Holmes‘ success.
In terms of sheer revenue, though, Guy Ritchie’s two blockbusters are far and away the most successful Sherlock Holmes adaptations ever made, raking in a combined total of close to $1.1 billion at the box office. Purists may have scoffed at Robert Downey Jr.‘s performance and the decision to reboot the property as anachronistic steampunk action movies, but audiences clearly lapped them up.
The long-awaited third installment has been placed on the back burner for the time being according to director Dexter Fletcher, but RDJ still has plenty of ideas for the character after revealing in October that he was planning on building an entire shared universe for the property, which is rumored to be in the works for HBO Max. For those who can’t wait that long, though, the Iron Man star’s first outing as Sherlock Holmes is coming to Netflix next month, on January 1st, and will no doubt be a hit with subscribers.