Grease prequel

41 years after the mega-popular musical Grease first cruised into theaters and 37 years after its sequel debuted, a Grease prequel is in development at Paramount Pictures. John August (Big Fish, Go) is writing the screenplay, which will focus on the initial meeting between the slick, leather-jacket-clad “greaser” Danny Zuko (played by John Travolta in the original) and the innocent high school student Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John).

The big question, of course, is why does a prequel about their early love life need to exist when Danny and Sandy’s early relationship is discussed – and even overtly shown – in the original movie?

I appear to be one of the only people on Team /Film who doesn’t mind the original Grease, but news about a prequel is tough to swallow even for someone like me who considers himself a loose fan of the first film. Watch the opening scene of the 1978 movie:

And now watch the memorable “Summer Nights” song from a few minutes later, in which Danny lies to his idiot buddies about how things got hot and heavy with Sandy, and in which Sandy innocently sings to the Pink Ladies about how sweet and romantic Danny was.

I mean…isn’t that all we need to know? From the outside looking in, this prequel seems completely unnecessary. Do we really need to see the literal moment Danny and Sandy meet each other and their beach dates? But August is a smart guy (he hosts a podcast about screenwriting called ScriptNotes) and he’s a talented writer, so he’s obviously aware of these issues. The only thing that makes me not want to totally write this off is the hope that he might have a fascinating pitch that will end up justifying this story. But as of now, we just know the story concerns Danny and Sandy’s “fateful meeting,” so hopefully it’s easy to understand why we’re looking at this through a furrowed brow.

The Hollywood Reporter reports that August is writing this prequel for Paramount Players, the division of the studio focused on “contemporary properties.” Paramount, who has lately been lagging behind several of the other studios when it comes to recognizable intellectual property, already exhumed one of its older films and gave it a new spin earlier this year with the Taraji P. Henson vehicle What Men Want, a gender-swapped rehash of the Mel Gibson-starring What Women Want from the year 2000. That film has made $70 million worldwide on a $20 million budget, but will audiences flock to theaters to see a Grease prequel so many years after the original?

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