Ask any Buffy fan, and that person will credit one person for making her a legend in TV or comic books...Joss Whedon.
He was the one who wrote the original script for the movie in 1992. He was the one who brought her to the WB, and make her the netlet's first big hit. She inspired a spinoff, Angel, and several comic books, including one about a Slayer from the distant future.
So, when news broke about someone planning to make a new movie called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that Joss wasn't involved, a lot of people were stunned. After all, they thought, Buffy belongs to Joss, right?
Well, yes and no.
As the Hollywood Reporter article pointed out Fran Rubel Kuzui and her Kuzui Enterprises have held onto the rights. She developed the movie in 1992, and directed it. She later got together with Sandollar Television to produce the show for the WB in 1997. Whedon may be the Father of Buffy, but Kuzui also has parental rights, in a way.
So, she is getting together with Roy Lee and Doug Davison of Vertigo Entertainment to create a new Buffy movie. It's a "reboot" of the Buffy story that she directed in 1992. In that Buffy-verse, she was trained by a weird guy named Merrick, but also got help from a cool guy named Pike. No details on a plot for the new version. It could start all over again, or the 1992 Buffy could die in battle, and make room for the 2010 Buffy. This would fit the old legend that "for every generation, there is a Chosen One." Also, the new version would be darker, and more ambitious, with hopes that Buffy will become a movie franchise like Harry Potter, Star Trek or Indiana Jones. Ironically, Joss' original version of the Buffy movie was darker, although the special effects were kept to a minimum.
Still, would people accept a movie called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is there is no Joss writing the words or directing the script? Would they accept someone else as Buffy Summers, or a movie without Willow, Xander, Angel, Giles, Spike, Drusilla or even Sweet hoping to create a musical number?
If you judge the reaction to regular visitors of Whedonesque, the answer is no. The only Buffy know is the one on TV, and the movie version just a first draft. If there's no SMG or Joss, or Scoobies, it's not the real Buffyverse.
This isn't really unusual. It wasn't too long ago that movie studios would make competing versions of a classic character, like Tarzan. While Peter Sellers is recognized as the one and only Inspector Clouseau, fans couldn't accept anyone else in that role, including Steve Martin and Alan Arkin. After quitting James Bond, Sean Connery came back for an unofficial remake of Thunderball, called Never Say Never Again. Also, let's not forget how JJ Abrams took the Star Trek Universe that Gene Roddenberry built, and renovated it for a new generation, thanks to a black hole and time travel. At least, here, Abrams tells us this is a different universe for current sci-fi fans, but the Old School Trekkies can hold on to the original show, and even the TNG, DS9 and Voyager timelines. Thus, no conflict, and you still get Spock no matter what you believe.
The idea of rebooting Buffy is to meet a need that her fans have had for a long time: to see her slay another day, and guide the next generation of Slayers, now that the "one per generation" rule has been tossed. We have that thanks to Dark Horse, but some say they want the old cast back just one more time, and establish new Slayers. Imagine Kristin Stewart, Emma Stone or even Ashley Tisdale picking up the stake. I am trying to avoid suggesting anyone from Gossip Girl being a Potential, but if Leighton Meester is interested, we'll see. Sadly, that won't happen, but will a new Buffy movie that Joss Whedon isn't writing or directing be acceptable? Apparently not, but people are going to try to see if it can work.
Actually, there is a way it can work. Just don't call the new Slayer Buffy. In fact, let's bring back Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry as a couple who are concerned about their 17 year old daughter, and how she's acting strangely. It could be due to that mole just below her neck, and that she's sneaking off at night. Once they find out that she's been battling vampires, Kristy will turn to Luke and say, "See? Our daughter does have the Mark of the Coven...just like me.
"She's the next Slayer, and we've got to train her."
Now I am saying "the next Slayer." That doesn't mean the old one died, and the new girl has to be trained fast. By having the story be about the next Slayer, you can have it mean that the new Slayer is the latest of a long line of Slayers already busy at work holding back evil and such. That, of course, means there's still plenty of room for Buffy in this movie Slayererse. If this is done right, Joss can give his blessing, and get involved somehow. With the reputation he has, respecting his definition of a Slayer is important.
Seeing if Buffy the Vampire Slayer can be reborn, even if her body isn't Sarah Michelle Gellar, will cause a big debate. It may lead to shelving the movie, or having a movie produced with a new cast, or the old TV cast. Whatever happens, Joss Whedon must have some say in the matter. Fran Rubel Kuzui may have helped Buffy's birth in the movies and TV, but it was Joss who raised her well to become the Girl Power Icon we know today.
Of course, it could be worse....it could be a direct-to-DVD movie, like the second sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer or a prequel to the Dukes of Hazzard.
UPDATE!! Joss briefly talked to Mike Ausiello of Entertainment Weekly about this Joss-less Buffy movie....
What do you think about this Buffy movie they're making without you?
JOSS WHEDON: I hope it's cool.
Joss is still filming Cabin in the Woods, but when he has time, he'll have more to say.