On January 10, 2016 the musical legend David Bowie passed away to the shock and heartbreak of fans around the world. In the wake of his passing, many fans chose to mourn by looking back at his musical legacy, as well as the impact he’s had on the world of cinema. Many people were delighted to pop on films like ZOOLANDER and THE PRESTIGE as they raised a glass to the late Bowie’s memory. The vast majority of people who grew up in the 80s and 90s, however, took a look back on the 1986 Jim Henson film, LABYRINTH. In the film, Bowie starred as The Goblin King Jareth, who kidnaps a young boy named Toby to lure the beautiful Sarah into his deadly labyrinth. Sarah must overcome traps, obstacles, magic tricks, and her own childish insecurities in order to make her way through the labyrinth and save her younger brother.
The movie didn’t shine at the box office, but it gained a cult following in the years that followed. It is looked back fondly by many people who grew up with the film. It is also enjoyed by those who found it in their adult lives that were amused by the film’s absurdities and overall 80’s nostalgic vibe. It was also the last film directed by Henson before he passed away. Now that David Bowie has passed on as well, the film itself is seen to be even more precious than before, despite its many flaws.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, TriStar has closed a deal with The Jim Henson Co. to produce a reboot of the film, and has hired Nicole Perlman, co-writer of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, to pen the script. At this point, it is not known if the film will be a reimagining of the story or a sequel, as details are currently being kept under lock and key. Lisa Henson of The Henson Co. will produce the project, which will be overseen at TriStar by Nicole Brown.
Had this news come out a year ago, I wouldn’t feel as emotionally defensive of the original. But in light of David Bowie’s recent passing, this announcement seems more than a little insensitive, as though the studio is capitalizing on this loss, since there never seemed to be any interest in going back to the Labyrinth outside of licensing a few comic books. If the studio had any real interest in the fanbase or expanding the lore of this world, they would have done so years ago, but since the film was a box office failure it never seemed like a viable option as a business venture for them until now. I can’t help but be reminded of how Sony announced the reboot of JUMANJI almost a year to the day after the death of Robin Williams, and how that seemed more than a little disrespectful at the time. This strikes a similar nerve with me, at least when it comes to the timing of such an announcement. Ultimately the quality of this new film is most likely in good hands, given Perlman’s resume, but at the same time I wish that news of this development hadn’t come less than two weeks after Bowie’s passing, because it’s hard to imagine anyone else even attempting to play the Goblin King.