Dimension boards 'Welcome' wagon
Dimension Films has completed a deal to turn the ABC series “Welcome Back, Kotter” into a feature film, with Ice Cube producing and playing the title character.
Tom Brady (“The Hot Chick”) is finalizing a deal to write the script and direct. The hope is to shoot in the fall.
Pic will be produced by Cube, his Cube Vision partner Matt Alvarez and Andrew Lazar.
The rights to the series that ran from 1975-79 were controlled by the show’s creators, Gabe Kaplan and Alan Sacks. Kaplan originated the role Cube will play, a teacher who returns to his tough, inner-city alma mater, where he meets a new generation of underprivileged troublemakers who are as unmotivated as he used to be.
Aside from Kaplan, the sitcom also launched the career of John Travolta, who played head troublemaker Vinnie Barbarino.
Cube, a product of the inner city, sparked to a project that allowed him a return to the ‘hood.
“There was no bigger fan of the original show than me, and I’m very excited to be able to put a new twist on it,” Cube said. He is preparing to topline the Steve Carr-directed Revolution Studios comedy “Are We Done Yet?” That comedy began as a remake of “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” but has evolved into a sequel to the hit “Are We There Yet?”
Dimension head of production Richard Saperstein will shepherd “Kotter” with senior veep Matthew Stein and director of development Alex Franklin. The film will be played for laughs, with a tone comparable to “School of Rock.”
Kaplan and Sacks had long resisted movie overtures, but the pair liked the package and Weinstein Co. partners Bob and Harvey Weinstein.
“We were skeptical about selling ‘Kotter’ because making a great movie from a TV show can be challenging,” Kaplan said. “After meeting with the Weinsteins, we knew they were the right ones to bring this project to the screen.”
Dimension’s Barry Littman brokered the deal with Cube’s WMA and Firm reps.