Grease is the word, and now, it’s also a spin-off.
Summer break is over, and fans of the classic John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John musical can finally go back to Rydell High.
ViacomCBS’ new streaming platform Paramount Plus has snagged the new spin-off right out of the hands of HBO Max, and is taking it in a new direction.
Originally titled Rydell High, the series has been rebranded as Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies and will follow the cultural impact, admiration and moral panic that members of the girl gang instilled among their high school peers.
Paramount Plus is replacing 10 All Access in Australia next year, meaning Grease fans will get to watch and sing along.
The genesis of fan-favourites Marty, Jan, Rizzo and Frenchy will be tracked in hour-long, musical episodes showing exactly how they came to rule the school.
Expected to throw all-new songs into the mix, it seems HBO Max and Paramount Plus were also aiming to include some of the original hits like Greased Lightning, Beauty School Drop Out and Hopelessly Devoted To You.
While the estate representing Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, who wrote the music and lyrics to the original 1971 musical, had failed to reach an agreement with HBO Max, sources suggest Paramount remains hopeful to secure the songs.
Though the project is jumping networks, the show’s creator, writer and executive producer, Annabel Oakes (Atypical) will remain on board.
Summer sun, something’s begun…
Fans feeling disappointed that Rise of the Pink Ladies won’t revisit the famed love story between greaser Danny Zuko and good girl Sandra Dee can rest easy knowing there’s another Grease project on the way.
Director Brett Haley confirmed that another upcoming Grease prequel called Summer Lovin’ was in the works with Temple Hill Productions and Picturestart Productions – both of which are collaborating on Rise of the Pink Ladies.
The film will chronicle the romantic summer break where Danny and Sandy meet and fall in love, as described in the song Summer Nights from the original 1978 film.
Haley said working in the Grease universe was a “dream project”, and confirmed the prequel will be jam-packed with original songs.
“I can’t say much about it, but I can tell you, yeah it’s going to be a full-on Grease musical,” Haley told Cinema Blend in late August.
“I can tell fans of the franchise it’s going to be really true to the movie and I also tell people who maybe don’t like musicals that I think it’ll be something that will be a wonderful experience and a wonderful, surprising, fun, feel-good, fully-realised journey.”
It’s the time, it’s the place, it’s the motion …
In an age of reboots, it’s no wonder Grease is the next cab off the rank to be reimagined for the small screen.
And while news of a reboot may either delight or disappoint fans looking to protect the legacy of the original masterpiece, it’s worth noting some of Grease’s past hits and misses.
The 1980s spawned a number of fabulous and memorable teen movies – Grease 2 was not one of them.
It followed the romance between a young British student (Maxwell Caulfield) – who is revealed to be Sandy’s younger cousin – and the new leader of the infamous Pink Ladies (Michelle Pfeiffer, in the role that launched her career).
In an unusual move, the film was directed by Grease choreographer Patricia Birch and was, unsurprisingly, the only film she would ever direct.
The sequel barely broke even and failed to live up to the success of its predecessor, bringing in $A21.1 million worldwide for its $18.4 million budget.
Since Hollywood has been hopelessly devoted to Rydell High, audiences were treated another reboot in 2016, this time in the form of a live TV special staring Vanessa Hudgens, Julianne Hough, Keke Palmer and Mario Lopez.
Grease Live! was met with critical acclaim and snagged itself four Emmys, proving that even forty years on, Grease is still the word.
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