Who Will Seize The Upper Hand In The Battle Of Repo Man Non-Sequels?

Repo Man director Alex Cox will premiere his new movie Repo Chick at the Venice Film Festival in September, say sources — but Repo Chick isn't a sequel. And neither is Universal's new movie Repo Men. Confused yet?

Blame the financial crisis for a new boom in movies with "repo" in the title, as well as a sudden interest in recycling on the part of movie studios. Cox started filming Repo Chick last January, and recently he got a cease-and-desist letter from Universal, which released Repo Man. He wrote on his blog:

I anticipated the "cease and desist" letter from The Studio, attempting to stop production of REPO CHICK on the grounds that it was an illegal sequal to REPO MAN. That was inevitable, given the history of the company, whose parent - MCA - stood for "Muscle, Cash and Attorneys." So, when a letter came, forbidding me to make my movie and signed by no less a personage than the Executive Vice President In Charge of Litigation, I stuck it in the drawer labeled 'Restraint of Trade' and carried on...

What I wasn't prepared for was the e-mail Jon Davison sent me today: an article reporting that "Universal's embattled execs" were putting their big hairy monster picture on hold, and rushing out a film called REPO MEN.

What?

REPO MEN is definitely not a sequal to my film. I still have a contract with these guys and - if they ever want to make a film based on my original work - they have to ask me to direct it. What fun that would be! But it seems The Studio has, among its souvenirs, a Jude Law thriller called THE REPOSSESSION MAMBO, shot in Canada, almost two years ago. I'm sure this is an excellent film, which Universal accidentally forgot to distribute, and now are passing off, in their innocence, as the new REPO MAN. Only a cynical person might see any attempt to catch the upward draft of REPO CHICK, and give loft to a turkey.

We wrote about Repossession Mambo a lot a couple of years ago, and actually speculated about whether it would cause problems for the smaller, campier musical film Repo! The Genetic Opera. (Remember that one? It had Anthony Stewart Head singing about drugs.)

In any case, Universal has dusted off Mambo and renamed it Repo Men, to try and catch the "repo" wave. Meanwhile, Cox tells the Village Voice he did work on an actual sequel to Repo Man, called Waldo's Hawaiian Holiday, but "Nobody wants to look at Emilio Estevez anyway." Waldo's Hawaiian Holiday was "the further adventures of Otto. Otto had been kidnapped by Martians for ten years and they'd changed his physiognomy and given him a new name. He came back in 1996 with a 1983 mindset, so it was quite difficult for him to fit into the world."

As for Repo Chick, it has nothing to do with Man. Says Cox:

It's entirely a freestanding film about a very wealthy young woman who finds meaning stealing from the middle class and the poor. You wouldn't need to see Repo Man to make sense of it. It's another comedy about the economic crisis. And how the crisis has intensified so much in this round.

And he says the movie is 95 percent greenscreen, except for one "vintage train interior."

If Cox's take on the economic crisis is half as fascinating as Drag Me To Hell, then the suffering of so many homeowners will start to have a bit of an upside. That's if Universal doesn't crush his indie project before it reaches your screens, of course.

Repo Chick image from Danny Aroyo.