Romeo and Juliet Die in a Gunfight

I’m not sure how much Shakespeare we’re going to get in this one, but the coming action film starring Kaya Scoldelario and Josh Hutcherson is being billed that way:

The Mark Gordon Company has set Kaya Scodelario (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games), Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse) and Helen Hunt (As Good as It Gets) to star in the action romance Die in a Gunfight, a modern update on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

More specifically the film, “will see Hutcherson and Scodelario as two star-crossed lovers Ben and Mary. Set against a backdrop of corporate espionage, revenge, and a long-standing feud between their families.”

If we hold this one to the same standard as Lion King, I wonder how well it would fare?  I’ve often said that the only way we can call “brother kills brother and son takes revenge” a Hamlet story is if we count all “lovers can’t be together because their groups hate each other” a Romeo and Juliet story.

Maybe we need to come up with a metric for how much Shakespeare something has to have in it before they get to use the name?

Let’s predict, shall we?  This will be fun.  For us to consider this a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet it should ideally have …

  • Two warring families (or other social groups) who hate each other just because.  They always have.  Maybe there’s backstory, maybe not, we don’t need one.
  • One representative from each family, who would like to see the families reconcile so they can be together.
  • A best friend / confidant for each.
  • One representative on each side (a Mercutio and a Tybalt) who are quite fine with them continuing to try to kill each other, thank you.
  • Some sort of time element driving the plot, such as Juliet’s marriage to Paris.  Something to keep it moving.
  • A Friar Laurence character to come up with a crazy “this’ll never work, but it’s our only hope!” plan.

You’ll notice I did not say “They have to end up dead.”  I’m actually quite ok with flipping to a happier ending, because if you don’t then you really do just rule out the possibility of any Disney or kid-friendly adaptations.

What do you think?  Something I missed? Something I put on my list that you can live without?

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