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Cruel Intentions remake? Yes please. Here’s everything we know

 (Columbia Pictures)
(Columbia Pictures)

We’re in the era of the remakes: Dead Ringers and Fatal Attraction are being turned into TV series, Disney has live action versions of Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid and Snow White coming out over the next year, Fawlty Towers is rebooting, That ’70s Show was given an update... and that’s just the beginning of the list. But we have to say, we’re not upset about it, at all.

Now the news has just dropped that Cruel Intentions, the Nineties cult classic about a bunch of rich teenagers in New York, is going to be made into a TV show. It could be to be tricky to do: the original, which was a retelling of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 novel Les Liaisons dangereuses, starred screen legends Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, and Selma Blair, and was that rare thing: a perfectly pitched (and terrifying) adaptation.

A review in the Washington Post published when the film came out said it superbly: “what’s both depressing and impressive about Cruel Intentions is the profound misanthropy of its meaning. It doesn’t argue that man is not soul but merely fleshly matter, but something far worse: that man doesn’t matter, nor does woman, nor does love, loyalty or honor. What matters alone is power.

“And since they lack the power to rule (reserved to kings), the only power accessible to players of the game is the power to hurt. The original was about social manipulation as blood sport. Amazing how easily it transports, themes intact, to our blighted decade, and to our children.”

Here’s everything else we know about the new series.

Where is it going to stream?

The new remake has been ordered by Amazon. According to Variety, the update is going to be an eight episode series and will “likely be released through Freevee, Amazon’s free streaming service”. There’s also the possibility that the show could also be aired on Prime Video.

What else do we know?

At the moment, very little. Currently there are no more details about the upcoming production, so we’re yet to find out the finer details about the different characters and therefore about the actors who will play the different roles. We also don’t know how much of the plot will follow the original film, but we’ll keep updating as we know more.

Given that the adaptation has only just been ordered, it’s likely that the series won’t be coming to our screens for at least a year or two.

An adaptation has been in the works for a while

Reports about a TV adaptation of the Nineties cult classic have been floating around for a while. In 2016, a reboot of the original was reportedly in the works, in which Gellar would return to play Kathryn, but it was scrapped. Fox also apparently had a go at making a Cruel Intentions prequel series, which was canceled before it aired.

Then, back in 2021 Variety reported that a Cruel Intentions IMDb TV show was once again in the works, and it was reportedly going to focus on students at an elite Washington College. IMDb TV is owned by Amazon and has now had its name changed to Freevee, so today’s report about the upcoming series is, arguably, the same project finally coming to fruition.

What’s the original story about?

The French novel Les Liaisons dangereuses focuses on two aristocratic former lovers, the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, who get off on ruining the lives of those around them.

They make a bet about whether Vicomte can seduce and deflower pure Cécile Volanges who has just left a convent to marry the Comte de Gercourt. Although Valmont has his eyes set on the chaste wife of a member of Parliament, he accepts the challenge, on the understanding that if he succeeds, the Marquise must surrender to his advances. So the games begin.

What’s the original film about?

The 1999 film stays quite close to the original plot. It follows Kathryn Merteuil (Gellar) and Sebastian Valmont (Phillippe), two rich step-siblings who make a bet about whether Sebastian can get the daughter of their headmaster, Annette (Witherspoon), to go to bed with him. Annette has previously said she doesn’t want to have sex before marriage.

If Kathryn wins, she gets a Jag; if Sebastian wins he gets Kathryn. Once again the scene is set for a pretty horrible drama, made all the worse given that these are high schoolers, and all of the drama takes place in and around an elite Manhattan prep school.

Was Cruel Intentions the first adaptation of the book?

No. The novel has been adapted dozens of times including into operas, ballets and films. Most famously, perhaps, it was made into the 1988 period drama Dangerous Liaisons, which starred Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Uma Thurman, Peter Capaldi and Keanu Reeves. The film was a major success, picking up seven Oscar noms and winning three.

Other film adaptations include Hur Jin-ho’s 2012 update, Dangerous Liasons, which was set in Thirties China and starred Zhang Ziyi, and Miloš Forman’s 1989 Valmont, which starred Annette Bening and Colin Firth.

Cruel Intentions currently has no release date