The quest to reboot Barbarella has entered a new phase this week, with Nicolas Winding Refn setting the project squarely on the slate of the up-and-coming Amazon Studios.
There have been persistent attempts to ‘re-imagine’ Barbarella on film, not least by director Robert Rodriguez, for some years. However, the project has never made it past the planning stage partly due, some would argue, to the overt kitsch-ness that the original exudes. Based on the Jean Claude Forest graphic novel, Barbarella first appeared on our cinema screens in the shape of Jane Fonda in the 1968 Roger Vadim film and told the tale of an overly-sexualised woman assigned the role of finding an evil weapons inventor and putting a stop to his heinous plans.
It was in 2012, however, that director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives) boarded the Barbarella project as executive producer, newly re-packaged as a TV show, with Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade working with him to pen the script. Backed by Gaumont International Television, it is the involvement of Martha De Laurentiis – widow of original producer, Dino – as executive producer that gives the best indication of the intention to remain as true as possible to the tone of the original film.
That vision is now one step closer to being realized, as the TV pilot finally makes itself at home with Amazon Studios. Having committed to developing the pilot, Amazon Studios are currently seeking a showrunner for the project, in the event that it progresses to series. Creating a new business model as the production arm of Amazon.com, the organization produces TV and film – largely from material submitted online – whose progress is determined by crowd-sourced feedback. Entering into competition with streaming platforms such as Netflix, which has successfully moved into original programming, Amazon streams its TV shows via Amazon Instant Video in the US, and via LoveFilm in the UK.
It will be some time before the sultry space explorer streams onto our screens, though. While the Barbarella pilot is certainly in development, casting choices and release schedules have yet to be announced. As always, we’ll keep you posted when we hear more.