'Heathers' Reboot Premiere: Executive Says Network Permanently Dropped Show Amid School Shootings

The original "Heathers," pictured here in the 1988 cult classic. After multiple premiere delays, the television reboot was permanently put in its grave this week. New World Pictures

Paramount executives have ditched the planned television reboot of the 1988 film Heathers, suggesting it would be insensitive to debut the satirical show amid a spate of school shootings and increased violence on high school campuses.

"This is a high school show, we're blowing up the school, there are guns in the school, it's a satire and there are moments of teachers having guns. It's hitting on so many hot topics," president of development and production Keith Cox told The Hollywood Reporter. "This company can't be speaking out of both sides of its mouth, saying the youth movement is important for us and we've done all these wonderful things to support that and at the same time, we're putting on a show that we're not comfortable with."

"The combination of a high school show with these very dark moments didn't feel right," Cox continued in a lengthy interview with the magazine. He added that more than 20 meetings with top Paramount chiefs revolved around the decision to axe the show.

The Heathers reboot was supposed to premiere on March 7, but the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 people dead on February 14 put the brakes on the debut. Production on the 10-episode first season has already been wrapped, and significant swaths of the second season were already penned by writers.

Yet, given the current climate, cast members—including new actors James Scully and Grace Victoria Cox in the roles originally played by Christian Slater and Winona Ryder—are reportedly "relieved" that the show won't air. The show is, however, being shopped to other networks who may want to pick up the baton, according to Cox.

The trailer for the show first debuted in January and received mixed reviews. Flipping the original on its head, the revision features misfits as the popular Heathersspecifically, a fat girl, a black lesbian and a genderqueer teen—and a blonde girl with a proclivity for Banana Republic-style tops as Ryder's outcast character. In the reboot, having a marginalized identity is cultural capital—the specter of which rubbed some critics the wrong way.

The Advocate slammed the show for making the authentic identities of LGBTQ people a spectacle for far-right trolls, while The Daily Beast called it "Trumpian." The writer of the original film told Newsweek he wasn't fond of the pilot, but that the show improved after a few episodes.

"Everything seems a little cheap in the first episode, but when you realize they're really coming after everyone it gets better. I won't spoil anything, but it's going in a cool, weird direction," Daniel Waters said in a previous interview.

Defenders, meanwhile, pointed out that the show is meant to be a satire of the current high school atmosphere, and that creator Jason Micallef, executive producer Leslye Headland and director Sydney Freedland identify as belonging on the LGBTQ spectrum.

Cox declined to explicitly say which networks are interested in snapping up the reboot, although he did not that discussions are already underway. He said the hope is to shop it to a network that will consider running the show for multiple seasons, stating emphatically that showrunners still believe it's a story that needs to be told—just not on Paramount or Viacom-owned outlets.

"Out of respect to the producers, we want this to be a franchise and selling it to someone who will maybe do five or six seasons of it was our first job," he said.