Warner Bros. wants everyone to know it is definitely making its Fletch reboot, Fletch Won, this time. Sure, it’s been 25 years since Irwin M. Fletcher (played by Chevy Chase in two movies) graced our screens, but the studio has finally found the perfect guy for the role—fellow Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis, who will topline the “gritty action comedy” that serves as an origin story for the character, created by novelist Gregory McDonald.
The latest script is by David List, who has no credits to his name, but is producing the project with Steve Golin and Michael Sugar. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it “passed muster” with the studio and attracted Sudeikis. Like so many proposed studio reboots of a once-beloved franchise, this film promises to stick closer to the original source material.
Sudeikis is a safe but perfectly solid choice for the role, and he’s one of those actors with a weirdly strong track record at the box office. Horrible Bosses and We’re the Millers both pulled in more than $200 million worldwide, and there’s no reason to think Fletch Won wouldn’t make some serious bank either, although Sudeikis has never headlined a comedy by his lonesome before.
So Sudekis is the guy. This time. It's instructive to think about how many times Hollywood has tried to make Fletch Won happen. After 1989’s moderately successful Fletch Lives, Universal (who at that point owned the rights) shuffled a potential sequel around, and Kevin Smith jumped on board post-Mallrats, hoping to write and direct a sequel starring Chase himself. Son Of Fletch would have seen Chase passing the torch to a young protégé, maybe someone dating his daughter, who would be played by Joey Lauren Adams, because Kevin Smith is not too original when it comes to casting.
That never happened, but it eventually morphed into a Miramax project, dropping Chase and tapping McDonald’s prequel novel as source for a potential reboot. Smith being Smith, he wanted Ben Affleck, and then Jason Lee, to play Fletch. Harvey Weinstein, in what was probably one of his smarter calls, said no, and Smith refused to cast someone more famous (names “floated” were Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Jimmy Fallon and Adam Sandler among others). Affleck almost made the thing, but he dropped out. Smith considered another round of actors (he liked Dave Chappelle, but Weinstein wouldn’t go for it), and Weinstein starting pushing for Zach Braff (this was right around Garden State, so it wasn’t a completely laughable idea).
Smith then made one of the few genuinely smart calls of his career: he refused to make a Fletch reboot starring Zach Braff. Then it got picked up by Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence, who obviously was fine with Braff for the lead role, but Braff left to remake the Danish film Open Hearts. He never actually pulled that project off, but is anyone shedding many tears about that?
High Fidelity scripter Steve Pink took a crack at it too, and Joshua Jackson was rumored at one point, but Weinstein nixed the idea and the rights eventually lapsed, to be picked up by Warner Bros. in 2011. Could this epic tale of Hollywood development hell really end at Jason Sudeikis’ doorstep? It’s entirely plausible that this all leads to a film that ends up making something like $50 million domestic and sloshes around on HBO for a few years after that. It’s also entirely plausible this is the last we hear of this iteration of Fletch Won.