EXCLUSIVE… UPDATE: Archie? Betty? Veronica? Jughead? Zombie? Just when Hollywood thinks it’s heard it all comes our news that Warner Bros Pictures last night just closed all deals for a WME-packaged live-action movie based on Archie Comics. Producing are Roy Lee and Dan Lin, and Jon Goldwater, Krishnan Menon, and Jon Silk are executive producers. Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) has signed on to direct while Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Glee) is writing. Sources tell us that the screenplay envisions a “high school comedy based on the original line of Archie Comics set in present-day Riverdale.” But earlier this year scribe Aguirre-Sacasa signed on to write a new line of the venerable Archie Comics with a peculiar way into their adventures: flesh-eating zombies! Aguirre-Sacasa helped fix the troubled Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and scripted the upcoming remake of Carrie that stars Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore. But his “Afterlife With Archie” ponders a zombie apocalypse in suburban New York. It isn’t replacing the usual Archie Comics, just supplementing them. So we find it hard to believe that zombies won’t play a role in the new movie somehow. Aguirre-Sacasa told Deadline’s Mike Fleming in March that the new comic line “combines two of my great passions: Archie comics and horror comics.” This series came out of the scribe’s conversations with Archie creator/publisher/editor John L. Goldwater, “asking questions like, ‘What if the Archie characters found themselves in a Stephen King novel like The Stand or a Sam Raimi movie like The Evil Dead? Could we pull that off, tonally? We’re really going for it. The first arc is called ‘Escape From Riverdale’. The second arc is called, brace yourself, ‘Betty RIP’.” He said the comic books’ gore will be balanced with “elements that are quintessentially Archie”. Now Warner Bros Pictures is behind Aguirre-Sacasa taking Archie Comics to the Big Screen for the very first time. He also wrote a four-part Archie Meets Glee comic series, so this guy is steeped in Riverdale lore.

“We’re thrilled with the team that Warner Bros, Dan and Roy have put together here,” said Archie Comics publisher/co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “Roberto has become a prolific comics writer for us, and having Jason Moore is the icing on the cake as Pitch Perfect is one of my favorite movies.” How, in the digital age, has a 72-year-old wholesome comic franchise inspired by the Andy Hardy movies managed to stay relevant (it’s the largest and most widely read comic in the world, he said, with 40-50 different books published each month)? “Archie has remained extremely competitive enough to be a trend setter in contemporary comic books,” Goldwater said. “We were the first to introduce a gay character into the storyline, and that was an incredible success. We’ve had different comics where Archie was married to Betty in one and Veronica in another. And the Archie Meets Glee was also a big success. But the core, the characters and Riverdale, remains part of the fabric of classic Americana.”

Archie has thrice been an animated TV series (1968, 1970, 1999). In the early 1970s, a live-action TV special of Archie characters aired and in 1990 a TV movie.

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