There is No Way the ‘Archie’ Movie Will Be About Zombies

By  · Published on June 6th, 2013

According to Deadline, there’s a live-action Archie movie on the way, based on the comic books involving the iconic redheaded high schooler and his pals. And unlike what you might be seeing at most movie sites, this is not going to be about a zombie apocalypse. It’s going to be a teen movie, maybe with some musical element and likely following a simple love triangle story. Maybe there’ll be one additional dramatic arc common to the long tradition of the world of Riverdale. But there is no way Warner Bros., which just closed the deal to develop this thing, would base the first major motion picture out of this 70-year-old property on a new horror-themed title that Archie Comics has out on the stands this year.

The confusion stems from Deadline pointing out that the movie will be scripted by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who wrote the upcoming remake of Carrie, co-produced TV’s Glee and also penned the recent cross-over comic series “Archie Meets Glee.” He’s also behind the new horror title “Afterlife With Archie,” and so there was a throwaway supposition that maybe the movie would be linked to that zombie-infested series. It’s a funny notion, yet Aguirre-Sacasa has more to him than that. Before officially working for Archie Comics he wrote and produced an unauthorized “Archie” play in which the main character came out as gay. He also previously worked at Marvel. Meanwhile, Pitch Perfect helmer Jason Moore is tapped to direct Archie. Does that mean the movie will be about an a capella competition? Of course not. Again, though, between these two guys the best bet here is that there will be some singing involved. At least an update on The Archies’ number-one hit “Sugar Sugar.”

One commenter on Deadline claims that it is indeed a musical coming-of-age sort of high school comedy, based on the pitch he’d heard. That makes total sense, and I’m not just saying so because I was the biggest, dorkiest diehard “Archie” fan in my youth – probably one of the biggest male fans of these comics in its eight decades (I even made my family drive me to the Archie Comics building in Mamaroneck, New York, just to look at it). “Archie” is a fairly simple property. Sure, through the years there have been gimmicky side-stepping titles like (my personal favorite) “Jughead’s Time Police,” the superhero-based “Archie as Pureheart the Powerful” and now “Afterlife With Archie,” but the main conceit of everyday high school shenanigans and romances and issues (normally not too hot-button, though – never much on teen sex and such) is always at the core of the Archie Comics portfolio.

This movie doesn’t need a big gimmick. It doesn’t have to try to appeal to anyone who didn’t grow up on “Archie” and would go see a zombie film before a high school musical. And to go for a specialized plot or a Brady Bunch Movie-style self-satire or anything else other than a faithful adaptation would just be wrong. Why even bother with the brand at all, then? It may not be high concept, but I’ll be happy after all these years just watching a big screen take on Archie trying to date both Betty and Veronica at the same time while Reggie pulls some pranks, Moose threatens Reggie for hitting on Midge, Dilton shows up doing something science-y and of course Jughead eats some burgers. And of course they’ll have to feature the new gay character, Kevin, who I’m not familiar with (it has been more than 20 years since I stopped reading). Maybe down the line, if Warner Bros. can make a successful franchise out of this, they can introduce a zombie plot. For now, I bet there’ll be some nod to “Afterlife,” perhaps in a nightmare fantasy sequence, but that’s it.

Now that that’s straightened out, let’s talk about casting. My pick for Archie Andrews is The Kings of Summer star Gabriel Basso. Who should join him in the gang?

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.