Netflix is reportedly in talks to develop a series based in the world of Wet Hot American Summer. While you might think this project is about fifteen years too late, I believe the timing has never been better and that Nextflix is the perfect platform for this project.
According to Variety, the streaming service, taking cues from its success with Arrested Development, wants to produce a 10-episode prequel series that will seek to reunite the original cast. Although that means the characters will still be teenagers while many of the actors are now in their forties, in my opinion, that suits the spirit of the original because those actors were ten years older than their characters back then.
While Wet Hot American Summer was critically-panned and performed poorly at the box office, thanks to word-of-mouth and the magic of home video, the film eventually found its audience and has enjoyed cult status ever since. Personally, I can scarcely recall ever laughing as hard or as often as I did the first time I saw the film and it absolutely has stood up to multiple viewings. The film is packed with great performances from an obscenely talented cast of stars including; Paul Rudd, Amy Poeher, Bradley Cooper, Janeane Garofalo, Christopher Meloni, Michael Showalter, Molly Shannon, David Hyde Pierce, Ken Marino and Elizabeth Banks.
The notion of a prequel to Wet Hot American Summer has been kicked around for over a decade now. Similar to Arrested Development, its style of humor was a bit too surrealist and dry for the digestive tracts of mainstream audiences during its initial run. That’s not a knock on moviegoers of the time; I just think that there wasn’t enough precedent for the sort of irreverent humor this movie delivers to reach its true audience by the conventional distribution methods of the time. Fortunately, we now live in an era where every twelve-year-old has an Netflix account with everything from Family Guy to Undeclared on their queue.
The movies creators, David Wain and Michael Showalter, have been trying to bring new life to the franchise for years now. But it has not been easy. Back in 2011, Wain revealed that he had been in talks to develop and had requested that Universal re-release a DVD of the film for the movies 10th anniversary, which would include special features as well as a teaser for the planned prequel, but the request was outright denied. In a Q&A Wain said, “I told them we would be willing to do a new prequel teaser short for it and new interviews and new material but they were like, ‘No, nobody buys it. Nobody cares.’”
Lets hope that the genius who decided not to splurge on an anniversary disc for this classic gets proven dead-wrong and this project turns out to be another big win for Netflix. Thank God we have arrived at such an evolved point in media distribution that projects like these can start becoming more common and 'cult classics' can stop feeling so cult-ish.