ByAngelo Delos Trinos, writer at
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Angelo Delos Trinos

It's been decades since anyone's heard about the cat that won't cop out, private eye John . Rumors about a possible new sequel or an outright reboot have been circulating, but nothing solid has come to light.

That is, until recently when New Line Cinema finally gave some details about the elusive Shaft revival. After announcing the project nearly two years ago, offered some details on what the future may hold for the '70s-era hero-turned-cultural-icon.

I'm Talking About Shaft

New Line has been working on a new Shaft for quite some time, but the project has been kept under wraps. At the time of the reboot's announcement, the only information given was that New Line Cinema would be producing the movie with the help of Davis Entertainment - the studio that helped finance the original (1987) and its 2010 reboot, Predators.

Black-Ish [Credit: ABC]
Black-Ish [Credit: ABC]

Later on, Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow, creators of the sitcom , were announced to be penning the new Shaft script. It's been said that the Black-ish duo was planning a more serious character-driven take on the private dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks.

Given today's heated political atmosphere and Black-ish's acclaimed take on what life is like for a minority family, Barris' and Barnow's different take on Shaft shouldn't come as much of a surprise and this presents them the opportunity to take the character into new territory. But as good as the script may have been, there was no director or actor attached to it at the time, shelving the Shaft comeback for a while.

'Ride Along 2' [Credit: Universal Pictures]
'Ride Along 2' [Credit: Universal Pictures]

The most recent development, however, reveals that the script finally caught a director's interest. Deadline reports that , director of the Fantastic Four adaptations from the early 2000's, will helm the new Shaft movie.

Given his track record of making PG-13 comedies and family movies, Story may seem like an odd choice for a movie like the Shaft revival. But to his credit, Story has made movies that have clicked with audiences, which is exactly what New Line Cinema wants the new Shaft film to do.

The series is currently the best showcase of Story's talents. Ride Along (2014) proved to be so popular with viewers that a third installment for the and comedic team-up has been announced for a 2018 release date.

Check out the trailer for the first Ride Along below.

There are currently no actors being suggested for the starring role, but expect an announcement in due time as the new Shaft gears up for production.

Only time will tell if New Line chooses to keep the seedy nature of Shaft in their reboot, or if they will override it in favor of the tone of Tim Story's movies typically take.

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Right On

Shaft [Credit: MGM]
Shaft [Credit: MGM]

Based on Ernest Tidyman's novel of the same name, the original Shaft (1971) starred Richard Roundtree as the African-American detective who would risk his neck for brother man. Here, Shaft is hired by Harlem-based gangsters to rescue the daughter of their boss from the Italian mob.

Shaft proved to be incredibly popular, especially among African-American viewers who were empowered by the sight of a black man successfully maneuvering in a white-dominated society and sticking it to "the man."

The movie was so influential that it was selected by the United States National Film Registry to be preserved in the Library of Congress for the viewing of future generations.

Shaft spawned two sequels and a short-lived TV series, which all failed to recreate the success of the original. Its comic book adaptation, on the other hand, garnered critical acclaim and was praised for capturing the spirit of the 1971 hit.

Promotional image for the 'Shaft' comics [Credit: Dynamite Entertainment]
Promotional image for the 'Shaft' comics [Credit: Dynamite Entertainment]

The franchise laid dormant for decades, until future actor took up the name in 2000. In an interesting move, the new Shaft was a direct sequel to the original movies rather than a remake or reboot that would have recast the main character. Here, Jackson played the nephew of the original John Shaft (still played by Richard Roundtree), who has since retired from the private eye business.

Though unconfirmed as of this writing, it's been rumored that New Line's upcoming Shaft revival will follow the character's son in a style similar to the soft-reboot from 2000.

Jackson and Roundtree in 'Shaft' [Credit: Paramount Pictures]
Jackson and Roundtree in 'Shaft' [Credit: Paramount Pictures]

These days, it's rare for a new franchise based on an old property to be a direct follow-up, since most of these movies turn out to be reboots such as The A-Team (2010) and (2016). There are some exceptions to the rule, however, such as the fourth film Mad Max: Fury Road. and the latest entry, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It's possible that Shaft would join this small club as well.

If the new Shaft does continue John Shaft's established family legacy instead of starting from scratch, it will be interesting to see how the Shaft name will be carried on from a bygone time period to the present day where the issues and concerns that the original film are still somewhat relevant.

Check out the trailer for the first Shaft below.

Can you dig the upcoming Shaft reboot?


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