You don’t need us to remind you, but these days Hollywood and TV executives seem to have one target in mind: big franchises. The kind hopefully with spin-offs and tie-ins galore across all possible forms of media.
An interesting consequence of this is that the entertainment industry has begun looking beyond capes and cowls in their “what can we make a franchise out of?” discussions. “What about other legendary characters?” you can imagine them asking, before a big eureka moment… “What about Robin bloody Hood?!”
Almost simultaneously, it seems like every studio in Hollywood has latched onto this idea of launching a Robin Hood franchise. TV production companies and games studios are getting in on it too. It’s also easy to see why. Mr. Hood offers a bankable brand of good-versus-evil romp, and has the name recognition and reputation to match any expensive comic book property. Also as an added bonus, you don’t even need to fork out for the rights to his image or name.
Indeed, whichever studio masters the origin stage of a likeable Robin Hood franchise could be cashing checks from it for years to come, especially if they manage to make Maid Marian and the Merry Men into engaging characters who could be potentially spun off into separate films.
All in all, we count 10 in-development versions of Robin Hood that will hit screens of all sizes across film, TV, and gaming in the next few years. Some look like blatant fingers-crossed-for-a-franchise corporate investments, while others are planning on something a little different for the fella in tights.
Here’s our breakdown of all 10 projects, and how they differ…
Robin Hood: Origins
The best place to begin is with the one that looks like it is definitely happening. While there were many vying to make it to the gate, the first take on the bandit out onto the track is Robin Hood: Origins, the new film from Lionsgate, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way. Indeed, before being shopped the studio of Hunger Games and Divergent, the project came together when Appian Way teamed with Joby Harold, a screenwriter on Edge of Tomorrow and next year’s Guy Ritchie-ified King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, buying Harold’s spec script for the project.
The film, which is also being produced by Harold’s Safehouse Productions, has Otto Bathurst of Peaky Blinders fame directing. More intriguingly, it is far enough along to have a formidable cast coming into place. For starters, Jamie Foxx has already been cast as a new take on Little John while Eve Hewson (The Knick) has signed on to play Maid Marian. Further, Jamie Dornan of Fifty Shades of Grey fame is at least in talks to play Will Scarlett.
But the biggest news is, of course, that Taron Egerton is currently set to headline as the man, the myth, the legend himself, the young Robin Hood. Egerton caused waves with his star-making turn in 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, and Lionsgate is so impressed with the lad that they have delayed Robin Hood: Origins by a year so he could go off and shoot the Kingsman sequel before donning the presumably hunter green attire.
While the full cast isn’t assembled, it’s a pretty even-moneyed bet this one is going to get in front of cameras and soon. It will have to in order to meet its March 23, 2018 release date.
Here’s one that sounds like some Sony execs binge-watched Arrow season 1, then moved onto a Marvel Studios Phase 1 boxset before settling in to enjoy Men In Tights. The result? Sony are chucking big money at a film called Hood, which they’re hoping will launch a huge franchise around what The Hollywood Reporter has dubbed “the superhero team of England’s Middle Ages.”
Of course, epic binge-watching isn’t really how Hollywood makes decisions (although maybe it should be), and this idea actually came from a pitch by Cory Goodman and Jeremy Lott (who also have a rumored-to-star-Dwayne-Johnson sci-fi project called Lore in development over at Warner Bros.) in October 2014. It was a pitch that involved the words “universe” and “Avengers,” so it’s not too hard to see why Sony paid the two chaps somewhere between $1 million and $2 million for it.
The first film (which doesn’t have a cast or – to our knowledge – a full script, yet) will naturally focus on Robin Hood and his Merry Men Little John, Friar Tuck and Will Scarlett. Perhaps Richard the Lionheart will appear in a post-credits sting, teeing up the next nine movies in some way or other.
THR also reported that the tone of the story would take inspiration from Mission: Impossible and the recent Fast & Furious films. Essentially, we assume it’ll be an action adventure stuffed with a few laughs along the way.
Hood certainly sounds like it could be a cash magnet if pulled off correctly. Seeing as Sony struggled with its Amazing Spider-Man property, you can see why they’re trying to get it going quickly too.
Disney’s Nottingham & Hood
Disney is getting in on the action too. Not content with owning the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars galaxy, the Mouse House have jumped in on a very-similar-sounding idea to the Hood project at Sony.
In fact, the projects sound so similar that this one is also called Hood. We expect one or other of the projects will have to change their name at some point, because how would advertising two films with the same name and the same characters work? Unless they’re deliberately planning to confuse people into seeing both, but that sounds a little too evil for even a major studio.
Disney’s Hood is based on a script by a newcomer called Brandon Barker, and it was originally called Nottingham & Hood. As weird as that decision is, we’re not sure how much legal action Sony could take (if they wanted to), given that Robin Hood’s rights are useable by anyone.
The ambitions from camp Disney are a little more humble than Sony’s bold tact to claim they’re building a shared universe before releasing one film (forgetting, or ignoring, that the game-changing Marvel cinematic universe didn’t begin like that). Disney haven’t hinted at spin-offs or anything of that ilk, they simply want to make an adventure movie similar in tone to Pirates Of The Caribbean. The script has also been described as “revisionary,” and is believed to stick with the Robin of Loxley version of events.
If it hits big, sequels would surely follow, but the fact that Disney aren’t outwardly saying that is a telling difference between theirs and Sony’s approach. It will be interesting to see which out of Sony and Disney can get their film out of the starting gates first, because if one studio gets significantly further ahead in production than the other, surely the lagging-behind crew will consider cutting their losses and moving on to something else (perhaps a shared universe about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy… oh hang on, someone has already done that).
Robin Hood: Origins
This one, interestingly, is being made with the help of Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way. Joby Harold (a director, screenwriter, and sometime executive producer who’s worked on all sorts of movies, including Edge Of Tomorrow) and his company Safehouse Productions are involved, as well.
Perhaps most relevant here is the fact that Harold is working on Guy Ritchie’s Knights Of The Round Table: King Arthur movie for Warner Bros. This new project won’t be with that studio, though. And although there were rumours that DiCaprio and co were trying to get Sony involved (leading us to think Sony’s Hood might be on the way out), instead the project ended up at Lionsgate.
With the Divergent and Hunger Games franchises nearing their end, it makes sense that Lionsgate would want another big property that they could market to a mass audience. The hot rumor for the style of this one is that of (get ready for everyone’s favourite phrase) a “gritty reboot.” It’s telling of the love for the colourful fun of Marvel cinematic universe these days that it’s taken until the third film on this list before the word gritty came into play. Of course, Russell Crowe and Universal’s Robin Hood movie from 2010 steered into gritty territory, too, and failed to launch a franchise in the way the studio might have hoped.
Everyone involved will surely be trying to encourage Leonardo DiCaprio into starring in the film himself, which would give it a big boost in terms of exposure and bankability. If all of these Robin Hood projects come to fruition, surely the one with the biggest star will get the most attention. It wouldn’t be the first time DiCaprio has starred in a film made by his own production company, so we certainly wouldn’t rule it out.
Warner Bros’ untitled Robin Hood film
There’s no trendy official name for this one yet, but Warner Bros is most definitely developing a Robin Hood movie, too. The news came in April this year, meaning that Warner Bros will have to get a move on if they want to be the first to start shooting. To join the race this late in the game, the powers that be must have really liked the pitch they were given.
Will Beall (writer of Gangster Squad and possibly of the upcoming Aquaman movie) and Dan Lin (producer of The LEGO Movie) brought in the idea, and have now been told to develop a full treatment. John Zaozirny (who previously worked with Beall on Nathan Fillion’s Castle) has been brought in to co-produce as well.
Not much is known about this version. It could gritty or brightly colored or set in the future for all we know. If we had to guess, we’d probably plonk it in medieval times, though, to be honest, and maybe make it a little lighter than Robin Hood: Origins. Warner already has the DC Comics films for dark and brooding-ness, after all. Do note, though: we could be, and probably are, wrong.
This one could serve as a cautionary tale to the other films on this list. Merry Men is a DreamWorks production that got the jump on all of these potential films, going into development way back in March 2013. It was back when Jack The Giant Slayer and Oz The Great And Powerful came out (neither of which are DreamWorks movies). It’s probably fair to assume that a modern spin on a legendary story probably seemed like a perfect new project at the time, then.
Brad Ingelsby (Out Of The Furnace, Run All Night) was attached to script, and Scott Waugh (the expert stunt coordinator who directed Need For Speed) was set to direct. We were told to expect a “tent-pole reimagining of the Robin Hood legend,” but since then nothing has happened.
It was never officially cancelled, so it remains on this list, but it certainly never seemed to go much further than the first wave of news coverage, from what we can tell. We’ll eat a hat – a green one with a feather in it – if it ever sees the light of day. The lesson here? Get your Robin Hood film off the ground quickly or you will probably be overtaken by a lot of other projects.
Several entries on this list will surely end up in a similar state of nothingness to Merry Men – forgotten as a result of the ever-growing inter-studio rat race. It’ll be interesting to see which survive.
Robin Hood 2058
It’s hard to tell if this project is still alive either, but it’s worth mentioning for its interesting spin on the stories of Sherwood Forest. This would seemingly be a smaller-budget, higher-concept version of the familiar Robin Hood lore. It probably wouldn’t star John Cleese, sadly. The synopsis we’ve seen goes like this: “Set in a dystopian London, a band of thieves’ activities restore hope to the city’s embattled population.”
To be honest, we could possibly get on board with this version, if it does ever come to be. The title is bringing back happy memories of reading Spider-Man 2099, as well, which has won my good faith at least.
Robin Hood 2058 has a script that was written by American Sniper’s Jason Hall. He’s a man whose star is surely on the rise in Hollywood after Sniper’s $500 million gross. There’s a chance, then, that it could still see the light of day.
Robin Hood And The Prince Of Aragon
Here’s one to file under “unlikely,” although we wouldn’t rule anything out entirely considering the rate at which Hollywood is buying up Robin Hood stories at the moment. We believe that Robin Hood And The Prince Of Aragon would again be a lower-budget non-studio Robin Hood story. It has been described intriguingly as “a vibrant punk-pop retelling of the mythos.”
The only talent we know to be involved is “go-to-gore-guy” Brandon Slagle, primarily known for his wide-ranging experience of inexpensive horror. The Black Dahlia Haunting is possibly his best known work, but you might be familiar with 2005’s The Dark Avengers and/or 2014’s House Of Manson, too.
For many, a horror expert making a non-mainstream Robin Hood movie could well be a more attention-grabbing concept than a slue of mega-franchise attempts at relaunching the character’s big screen potential. It’s hard to tell whether the project will ever happen, though, but we’ll be sure to let you know if we hear anything.
It’s saying something that I just mentioned punk-pop and Robin Hood in the same sentence, yet Nottingham still remains the oddest prospect on this list. BBC America is developing this one, with the driving force being Cole Haddon of NBC’s Dracula series from last year.
This show has injected a big ol’ twist, perhaps in an attempt to stand out from the crowd. In this version, Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham are the very same person. No, we’re not pulling your leg. Here’s the synopsis:
“Nottingham centers on the Sheriff of Nottingham whose wife is killed by King John’s men. When nobody is brought to justice, the Sheriff launches a one-man war against the Crown. By day, he remains the reviled Sheriff, loyal servant of the King, but by night he puts on a hood and, using the intelligence he gains from his office, attacks the King where it hurts the most — his coffers.”
We’ve no further comment to make on that one, but the debate on whether that storytelling shake-up is inspired or irrational will surely resume when we hear some more details about the show.
The Outlaw Chronicles
This one’s a much more conventional Robin Hood story, also in development as a TV series. The Outlaw Chronicles comes from FreemantleMedia and Michael Koyves (who previously visited the Middle Ages to co-write Clive Owen’s Last Knights) and is based on the books of the same name by British author Angus Donald.
The book series consists of six novels – Outlaw, Holy Warrior, King’s Man, Warlord, Grail Knight, and The Iron Castle – so this could become a long-running series if all goes to plan. There’s a touch of reimagining here, but nothing as drastic as Nottingham’s aforementioned switcheroo.
FreemantleMedia does a lot of work for British television (Wizards Vs. Aliens, The Bill, The X-Factor), but interestingly this show is based with their North American branch. To us, that indicates a bigger budget and an attempt to push into Game Of Thrones’ global success in inspired-by-legend epic-sized storytelling. We could be wrong, though (it has been known).
And finally, here’s one that does very interesting things with the Robin Hood legend. We’ve embedded the trailer above to give you an idea of the radical rethinking that has gone into this PlayStation game inspired by the antics of Mr. Hood and his Merry Men.
This game will see you playing as Rob Locksley, the reimagined Robin Hood, on a quest to bring down Guy Gisborne (based on Guy of Gisbourne – a hired killer and romantic rival to the traditional Robin Hood), who is here rejigged into the villainous role of an evil corporation’s CEO. Said CEO is voiced by the one and only Andy Serkis, with YouTuber Charlie McDonnel (aka Charlieissocoollike) playing the lead as Rob, and the multi-talented Danny Wallace voicing his A.I. companion Alan (presumably a modern spin on the traditional singing sidekick Alan-a-Dale).
Your aim is to steal information from the rich and evil corporate types, and broadcast it to the poor and needy. This is a nice place to finish this article, actually, as it really highlights how versatile and reusable the legend of Robin Hood is. Regardless of which projects from this list actually happen, let’s just hope they do a good job.