While Shaft received a reboot from Paramount Pictures in the year 2000, with Samuel L. Jackson taking over for Richard Roundtree, reports are now indicating that Paramount Pictures is handing the film rights to Shaft over to New Line Cinema, a subsidy of Warner Brothers. John Davis has already been pinned down as a producer. Shaft’s return to the big screen is one more peg in New Line’s recent reiteration of reboots and sequels of older properties.
Fans like Marc Sparks know that John Shaft was a character that was created to serve as a movie hero for African American audiences in the 1970s, a time when such a thing was exceedingly rare. But as acceptance in film has considerably widened in more than four decades, the “Blaxploitation” genre has boomeranged into a source of comedy. One need only look at films like Black Dynamite and Undercover Brother to see some high quality examples. That being said, the racial politics that gave rise to that film genre are still an issue today.
While a cynic may wonder if New Line’s plans for Shaft are simply to have a franchise film to sell to a pre-established market, or if they genuinely have a vested interest in reviving one of the better known iconic heroes from American cinema.