Sydney Sweeney to Star in New Barbarella Reboot

Emmy-nominated actress Sydney Sweeney is headed to a new franchise. On Tuesday, a report revealed that Sweeney is set to star in and executive produce a reboot of Barbarella, the franchise based on Jean-Claude Forest's comic book series of the same name. The project is in the works at Sony Pictures, which is already working with Sweeney on the Marvel movie Madame Web, as well as The Registration. Despite being initially announced back in 2020, the project is reportedly still in the early days of development, with no writer or director attached. The Barbarella series was first adapted into a now cult-classic film starring Jane Fonda, which debuted in 1968.

The original Barbarella film follows an astronaut from the 41st century, who sets out to find and stop the evil scientist Durand Durand, whose Positronic Ray threatens to bring evil back into the galaxy. While the film was initially a box office flop, it has grown a cult following, especially once its unedited 1968 release was released on home media.

What is Barbarella about?

Barbarella was created by Forest to be serialized in V Magazine in 1962, and began to be collected in a standalone book years later. The comic followed the exploits of Barbarella, a space-faring astronaut who goes on adventures throughout the galaxy. It is often regarded to be one of the first erotic comic books, as well as a revolutionary step in terms of representing the sexual revolution of the era. Multiple new comics inspired by the franchise have been published by Dynamite in recent years.

"In the 1960s, Jean-Claude Forest's Barbarella was a character who helped to define her era – the first emancipated heroine for a decade that questioned all rules and moral codes," Mike Carey said in a statement when the comic was first announced. "I'm hugely excited to be involved in re-inventing this classic and iconic character for the modern age, and introducing her to many readers who weren't even alive when she first travelled the spaceways."

Was there a Barbarella sequel?

Following the 1968 release of Barbarella, there have been many attempts to continue or reboot the franchise onscreen. Initially, there were plans for a sequel, which would have tentatively been titled Barbarella Goes Down. There were then efforts to reboot the franchise with a new film in the 2000s, which would have been directed by Robert Rodriguez, and later Robert Luketic, and starred Rose McGowan. That incarnation of the project ultimately fell apart due to budget and filming constraints. A musical adaptation was produced in 2004. In 2012, Amazon Studios and Gaumont International Television aimed to create a Barbarella television series, which would have been set in Asia and directed by The Neon Demon's Nicolas Winding Refn. 

"Well, I don't own Barbarella, the estate does, but I decided to be more interested in the Neon Demon," Refn told The Playlist in 2016. "Plus there are other television things that caught my attention [because] I actually enjoy designing it from the beginning. It became… Barbarella, it was like Logan's Run: certain things are better left untouched. You don't need to remake everything."

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h/t: Deadline