With reporting by Josh Horowitz
Way back in 1984, Director Joe Dante and writer Chris Columbus introduced the world to the mischievous "Gremlins," magical creatures with a ravenous appetite for destruction. The dark fantasy/horror/comedy hybrid was a hit, and inspired a 1990 sequel that continued the story, and in a weird way served as a parody of the first movie's success.
And then for 25 years, nothing (except a few commercial appearances)... Until now. Insanely busy writer Seth Grahame-Smith -- he of the also eagerly anticipated "Beetlejuice" continuation -- took a crack at the script, though last we heard his version was "stalled." Then on April 8, news broke that Carl Ellsworth ("Goosebumps") was taking his own crack at the script, with Columbus and Steven Spielberg on board as producers.
When MTV News caught up with Columbus at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, where he was promoting his new movie "Pixels," the director not only confirmed that news, but added that he -- personally, at least -- is drawing inspiration from a surprising "Force."
"There is a writer," Columbus said. "I know what the take is, I can't talk about it, but I was approached to do the sequel to 'Gremlins' way back when... That was before the power of the franchise, the franchise ruled all. I was like, 'Nah, the first movie exists, it's great the way it is. Why spoil it with a sequel, or a bunch of sequels?' Well, time has passed, and I've seen what happens when sequels can actually work, and improve -- certainly not improve on the original, but have a different direction. So I was open to the idea, and I think we have a really good take."
These belated new chapters in a franchise can take many forms, though, from sequel, to reboot, to remake. At least on the last, Columbus was firm that this isn't just a shot-for-shot reproduction of the original.
"Oh, god, a completely different direction," Columbus continued. "It's not a remake of the first movie at all. Because the first movie's very dear to my heart."
That means not only will we get the same mogwai mischief, it also means that even 25 years later, you don't want to feed them after midnight.
"It's the same universe, the same rules, same Gremlins, but not the same," Columbus added. "There's elements of it. What I've learned -- I haven't even seen 'Star Wars' -- but what I've learned in the trailer is, people want to stay connected to what they fell in love with. So when I saw Harrison Ford and Chewie, I was like... I had tears in my eyes, and I think everyone collectively across the world geeked out at that moment."
Accurate, Columbus. Accurate.
Still, even if there has been significant movement on "Gremlins: Tokyo Drift," one other eagerly awaited, belated sequel has stalled faster than you can say, "truffle shuffle."
"We've been talking about it for years, we haven't solved it yet," Columbus said when asked about "Goonies 2." "I don't know that we'll ever solve it. Discussions have been going on for, it feels like centuries."
And whereas "Gremlins" seems to have the right script at the right time, not so for "Goonies 2."
"Yeah, cracking the right story without offending the sensibility of the original story," Columbus said with finality on what would be needed to get Chunk back on the big screen.
Only thing we request in "Gremlins," though? Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates cameos. Make it happen, Columbus. Make it happen.
"Pixels" hits theaters on July 24.