'Green Hornet' Film Builds New Buzz

After years of stagnating in various forms, the big screen version of "The Green Hornet" has gained some fresh blood.

Columbia Pictures announced on Tuesday (March 20) that the company has optioned the rights to the venerable crime-fighting franchise and that Neal Moritz's Original Films banner will produce.

Although it's often thought of as another comic book franchise, "The Green Hornet" debuted as a radio show in 1936, only moving to comics in 1940. The franchise's most beloved incarnation may be a short-lived ABC series that starred Van Williams as bored playboy/masked hero Britt Reid and Bruce Lee as his trusty sidekick Kato. The characters went around in their equally adored car Black Beauty, a tricked out 1965 Chrysler Imperial.

"I couldn't be more thrilled to be developing this world renowned property with the people who brought Spider-Man to the screen," says Moritz, who had acquired the project rights from Green Hornet Inc. "I can't imagine a studio better equipped or more prepared to handle this kind of material than Sony. With the radio show, television program, comic books, and novels, there is ample source material to bring this classic crime-fighter to life."

One of the most prominent writer-directors to take a stab at the "Green Hornet" project was Kevin Smith, but although the "Clerks" director submitted a script, he never felt completely comfortable with the project.

"As I started writing it, I was like, 'I cannot direct an action movie. I have no idea how to do it,'" Smith told a crowd last spring (in a joke he's repeated in a variety of forms at various times). "I'm not good at it and I don't have patience. My version of it would be like Green Hornet and Kato leaning against the Black Beauty -- the amazing supercar and home arsenal that can do almost anything and just leaning against it talking about sex."

He continued with his scenario, "Like, 'Did you get laid last night?' 'Yeah. In the mask.' And Kato'd be like 'I think there's some trouble over there.' And Green Hornet's like, 'Yeah, let's check it out.' They both just walk off camera. We still hold on the car. Then from off camera you hear [He mimics the sounds of a comic fight]. Then they walk back in and dust themselves off."

Presumably Columbia has a different version of the film in mind, though the studio has yet to attach a writer or director.