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“Uptown Saturday Night” Remake w/ Denzel Washington, Will Smith Finds A Director

"Uptown Saturday Night" Remake w/ Denzel Washington, Will Smith Finds A Director

I’m actually getting tired of talking about this project, and almost didn’t post this new piece of news; alas, I am posting it.

Seems strange to me that it’s taking so long for it to get off the ground.

Years ago, Will Smith expressed interest in remaking the Sidney Poitier/Bill Cosby 70s film, Uptown Saturday Night. However, sadly for Smith, and despite sounding like a possible all-star African American Ocean’s Eleven-style romp, very little actually happened on the project since he acquired the rights, even though Smith had reportedly also talked with Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, and Denzel Washington about co-starring.

2 years ago, Warner Bros was on the hunt for a writer to rewrite the most recent draft of the script at the time, which was penned by Cop Out’s Mark and Robb Cullen. It looked like the project would surely happen, and was only a matter of when.

A year later, Warner Bros. and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment brought on comedy writer Tim Dowling to rewrite the Uptown Saturday Night script, with David Dobkin (who? Oh yeah, the guy who directed Shanghai Knights and Wedding Crashers) attached to direct.

Last I wrote about this earlier this year an update stated that writer Tim Dowling (This Means War) (who was hired last year to pen the script) had finished and turned it in, and that Will Smith and Denzel Washington were still very much attached to star in the roles originated by Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby in the 1974 film.

Here’s what Dowling revealed about his take on the story:

“Will Smith is producing it. He hired me to write it because he liked the script for ‘This Mean’s War.’ He and Denzel Washington grew up loving the original… It’s been a fun one to write, I just turned it in. We’re all hoping it’s something [Washington] wants do… the funny thing is, Will is so funny but hasn’t done a comedy in a while and Denzel I don’t think has ever done a comedy. I think the pairing would be great… David Dobkin is attached to direct it and hopefully we’ll get that going… The best way to describe it is a ‘one crazy night’ movie but it’s not just one night… Both of the main characters are blue collar guys, one doesn’t get a promotion, one’s business isn’t doing great, they go out for a night and get caught up in something they need to find their way out of. It’s similar in tone to ‘The Hangover.’ I think it will be really fun.”

Things that make you go hmmm, right? Obviously, still not a lot to go on here, so I’ll reserve comment till we know more. I do like the emphasis on so-called “blue collar guys” though.

It’s been announced today that Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) is signing on to direct the film, still with Smith and Washington starring, after he directs the sequel to Anchorman. which is expected to start shooting in 2013 for a 2014 release; so it looks like, as long as nothing more changes, we shouldn’t expect to see the Uptown Saturday Night remake until at least 2014.

As an aside…  said it before, and I’m going to continue saying it. It’s just baffling to me that throughout all these flip-flops of writers and directors, not one of the names mentioned is African American. Seriously though, these jobs really could have gone to a black writer and a black director, couldn’t they? If only to keep it somewhat in the spirit that the first trio of films were made – all 3 directed by Sidney Poitier; 2 written by African American playwright Richard Wesley; the other by Charles Blackwell, also African American.

There certainly are a few of them (writers and directors of African descent) who could use the work, and I think do a serviceable job with the project.

It’s one of those films that would be sold mainly on its big name stars, and not who’s directing or writing it, so why not give a brotha or sistah a shot?

Of course I’m assuming that Will Smith and Denzel Washington combined are powerful enough in this industry to have some influence on who gets to write and/direct films they are in – this particular film anyway. Especially Will Smith. 

Anyway… so it goes… moving on… obviously the remake will likely diverge from the original storyline.

Stay tuned…

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Joyce Jackson

Just today my husband was talking a about a remake of Uptown Saturday Night and we thought about Will Smith, Martin Lawrence and Jamie Foxx would be hilarious!


I have all three movies in my personal collection and would enjoy seeing if they could do a remake any justice


I've never even heard of this movie. I just read the article because it had Saturday Night and Denzel Washington in the title. Oh, and because of the picture of Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier. But I agree with some of you…leave classics alone. Let 2012 be the death of remakes. I understand that there is no originality left in the world but damn, there are other stories to be told.


From what I've gleaned about the writing process, the more times a script changes hands (re-writes), the less it bodes well for the final draft and the finished product. That 'too many cooks..' proverb doesn't come from thin air. Not too mention that I heard about Will Smith's production company buying the rights about a decade ago– were they in danger of losing the rights to make this film? Oh dear, I think I'm getting fatigued with the very idea of this remake already.


I smell a flop and critical failure. Leave classic black comedies alone. What's next, are they going to remake "Cooley High" with Kyle Massey and Christopher Massey?

Miles Ellison

There are a lot of red flags waving here. Hack director. Hack writer. By the time it actually gets made, it will probably have Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill starring and Judd Apatow directing.


Damn Miles, I should have asked somebody! I just received an e-mail and I am sure you know what it said? Well… since you didn't speak on it I'll keep it close to my vest. But man, you can answer many of my questions. What's the connection between the director and the storyline? Also, I've been around many gays of the butch type. The actors in Pariah killed those parts. Were many of them of the gay persuasion? What was the point of the strap-on if this was going to be "her" coming out party? Also, the opening scene was an attention grabber, what was the thoughts behind including it at the beginning of the film?

Mark & Darla

Will Smith is a jerk and prick.


Wesley is still around teaching at NYU. He couldn't have been brought on or consulted?

Said in Los Angeles

The concern I understand, yet why waste energy on stressing that the studios aren't approaching black folks? Why do they have too? They'll approach who they want to. My concern is why wait on a remake when something in a similar vain/genre can be produced now with many of the outstanding talents that read Shadow & Act?


"As an aside… said it before, and I'm going to continue saying it. It's just baffling to me that throughout all these flip-flops of writers and directors, not one of the names mentioned is African American. Seriously though, these jobs really could have gone to a black writer and a black director, couldn't they? If only to keep it somewhat in the spirit that the first trio of films were made – all 3 directed by Sidney Poitier; 2 written by African American playwright Richard Wesley; the other by Charles Blackwell, also African American." – TAMBAY. I understand your concern, but at this point, I kind of compare these Black writers to TYPHOID MARY. These writers who are so diseased that everything they touch becomes a means of transmission and no matter how hard others try to track down and recreate "Mary's" tracks, for a multitude of reasons, including further proliferating the disease to the amusement of the mainstream, the insidiousness of the CARRIER of the disease cannot replicated and NO ONE can spread a disease and decimate the Black American community like these Black Hollywood writers. NO ONE… Tambay, we cannot keep in the spirit of the original writers because they had more depth and dignity which, after handing over our culture to the American mainstream/corporations, the Black community has been missing for generations… again… I blame P. Diddy (I'm not even joking)…

other song

just appalling. I think I speak for everyone that just wants a great movie, regardless of who writes it. But this really is a case where a Black director/writer could have easily been approached to do the work. are you telling me there are no competent Black writers or directors who could have been considered? The guy who wrote "This Means War"? really? I didn't read the original script but that movie was panned hard and barely made its money back. So competence isn't really an issue here. It's like Will and Denzel would prefer to go with a substandard White writer than to even approach any Black writers. Just wow


Who are some of the black writers you would suggest if (hypothetically) you were consulted?


this makes me sad. period. the original movie was my allllll time favorite as a young teen. i remember falling out of my seat onto the theatre floor literally lmbao. and now to read this convoluted series of events to bring the remake to the screen — seriously? and i totally feel you on the director and writer issue… mebbe they should just ask sir sidney to direct it… HA!


Sad and very telling when Bill "The Trayvon case isn't about race" Cosby seems more progressive and daring than the likes of Will Smith. Also, this project sounds like it can't possibly compare to the original. So why even bother? Why not just make a black version of The Hangover?


Trust, both of these men are powerful enough to hire a black writer. I guess there are NO black writers with the comedic genius of This Means War.

Between this, The Help, and Think Like A Man, it's clear black feature writers need to focus on TV.

james evans from the c-b pj's

The potential lack of top quality black folks involved behind the camera is EXACTLY why I will (potentially) not be supporting this (until it comes out on video.) Come ON, Will. Work with a Negro Director FOR ONCE IN YOUR CAREER. JUST ONCE IS ALL I ASK. Damn, even Denzel has worked with Fuqua (and got himself an oscar because of it). Even Dr. Cosby himself would recommend hiring black folks for this project.


Both of `em are closet Neo-Conservatives.


Agree with you wholeheartedly on the writing and directing aspect of the project. Give our creative people a shot .

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