If you’ve experienced the nine years since Sabrina, the Teenage Witch last aired on the WB in 2003 as a Lost Decade of sorts, we have some good news for you. The plucky adolescent sorceress will be hitting theaters soon, Deadline reported last night, in a live-action movie picked up by Sony Pictures. The announcement noted that the film will be an “origin story in the vein of Spider-Man, about a young girl coming to terms with her remarkable powers” and called it a “priority for the studio.”
Most viewers today remember Sabrina as embodied by Melissa Joan Hart, who played the titular role on the sitcom which ran for seven seasons, but the character first appeared in the Archie comics series in the ’60s. There were three forgettable animated television adaptations before the live-action series caught on after premiering in 1996.
While it is not unusual for fanboys to grumble over the inevitable changes when a favorite comic book character makes the transition from page to screen, Sabrina is unlikely to raise the ire of those who obsess over the minutiae of costumes and powers. It will, however, have to contend with a much wider audience who recall growing up with the show. The failure of 2005’s Bewitched, another series-turned-movie about a witch trying to pass in contemporary society, demonstrates the difficulties the team behind Sabrina faces.
Bewitched, which centered on a fictional planned remake of the classic sitcom and starred Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, was widely criticized by fans for whom the original had long since passed from throwaway entertainment to cultural signpost. In a similar vein, though to a lesser extent, Sabrina is fondly remembered by those who frequented ABC’s weekly TGIF line-up of comedies through the ’90s, and the one major change already announced does not bode well. In line with the film’s “edgier” tone, Sabrina’s talking black cat Salem, a charmingly robotic touchstone of the television series, will be returning—but as a transformed prince and potential love interest. No word yet on who will play Sabrina, but if Sony knows what’s good for it—and the brand, as executives are no doubt already planning sequels—they’ll find someone with the same whip-smart charisma and goofy charm that Hart brought to the role.