The Saint, and its exploits of Simon Templar, is readying a return with the shiny new halo that is a reboot movie; a notion that just became a lot more real with the appointment of highly-sought director Dexter Fletcher to the picture.
Studio Paramount has officially hired Fletcher to direct its remake of The Saint, according to Variety. The production will see Fletcher – who’s enjoying newfound momentum from acclaimed Elton John biopic Rocketman – work off a script by Seth Grahame-Smith (The Lego Batman Movie, Pride & Prejudice and Zombies), adapting the classic antihero spy-thief franchise of author Leslie Charteris’s 1928-1963 novels, which, after early film versions, were famously adapted for U.K. television as the 1962-1969 ITV series, The Saint, which starred a future James Bond, Roger Moore. The series managed to be a contemporaneously-rare global hit, even in the U.S., after network NBC started to air it back in 1966.
This is certainly an interesting gig for Fletcher, an actor-turned-helmer, who came out of the directorial gate with 2011 drama Wild Bill, following that up with 2013 musical comedy Sunshine on Leith, before fielding a breakthrough picture in 2015’s Eddie the Eagle, a fact-based ski-centric comedy brandishing headlining heavies in Hugh Jackman and (eventual Rocketman star,) Taron Egerton. He’ll follow up 2019’s Rocketman with stewardship of another franchise, the December 2021-scheduled Sherlock Holmes 3, which will see Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law reprise their roles as Holmes and Dr. Watson, respectively.
The series centers on the Robin-Hood-esque Simon Templar, a smooth, suave, globe-trotting Brit thief who utilizes his own particular set of skills to tackle corrupt politicians and other powerful forces embedded with impunity in the world; an endeavor that typically involves leaving his iconic calling card, a mockingly-posed stick figure crowned with a hovering halo. As a franchise, The Saint has seen several attempts to return, the most notable of which was the 1997 reboot movie from director Phillip Noyce, in which Val Kilmer starred as a version of Templar reinvented for the ‘90s. However, that film underwhelmed at the box office, grossing $61 million domestic, totaling $118 million worldwide, and would ignominiously earn its share of Razzie nominations.
The current Saint project has been in the works for a few years, and even eyed Chris Pratt to star at one point. It arrives amongst the memory of other failed post-Moore reboot attempts such as 1978 series Return of the Saint (starring Ian Ogilvy) and 1987 television pilot “The Saint in Manhattan,” which starred Andrew Clarke*. After the 1997 movie put a stop to new attempts, the 2000s saw more efforts, notably with an ultimately-unrealized 2009 television project that initially eyed Dougray Scott and later James Purefoy for the Templar role. After that, a long-mooted new reboot would ultimately manifest as a 2017 TV movie starring Adam Rayner as Templar, joined by co-stars Eliza Dushku, Enrique Murciano, James Remar and Greg Grunberg, featuring appearances from franchise alumni such as Roger Moore himself (just before his 2017 passing), as well as 1978 portrayer Ian Ogilvy. The 2017 version can be viewed on Netflix.
Director Fletcher and scribe Grahame-Smith will be joined on The Saint by producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, along with Brad Krevoy and, in what will be a posthumous credit, the late Robert Evans.