There was a time that the Green Hornet was the hottest “superhero” around. That time was around 90 years ago when the character launched as a radio serial in the 1930s and later when it found success as a 1960s TV series that brought Bruce Lee to the attention of the masses. Since then, however, the masked vigilante and his kung-fu-wielding chauffeur Kato have dwindled into relative obscurity. Amasia Entertainment is the latest studio hoping to correct this as they have picked up the film rights to the character after Paramount dropped them.
“When I was a kid, The Green Hornet was one of my favorite television series,” Amasia co-founder Michael Helfant, who previously headed Marvel Studios, said. “I loved everything about it – the Green Hornet, Kato, and of course, the Black Beauty. They were the coolest! It was personally painful to leave them all behind when I left Dimension. So I tried to option the property again at Marvel before it went over to Sony, and then again in 2017 before the rights landed at Paramount.”
Sony had some success with the character after releasing a film starring and written by Seth Rogen as the titular character. However, the movie wasn’t a big-enough hit to warrant the $180 million budget and plans for a sequel were scrapped. That left the rights in limbo until Paramount and Chernin Entertainment picked them up in 2016 with plans to have Gavin O’Connor direct a new film. That also fell through, leaving the classic character without a film despite the fact that superhero movies dominated box offices.
It sounds like the studio wants to take the characters and update them a bit from Helfant’s description of their desires. The broken English of Kato and optics of a white hero getting all the credit while his sidekick who drives him around does most of the fighting obviously need a bit of updating. “We’re a bunch of fan geeks at Amasia and are thrilled about creating something fresh and truly worthy of this legacy property. A new world that is relevant and thrilling, while respecting and honoring the original vision of creator George W. Trendle,” Helfant said.