Kenya Barris Says He Doesn't Care About Criticism of Hollywood Reboots: 'I Want All the Remakes' (Exclusive)

The 'black-ish' creator, 49, is currently set to work on remakes of 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'The Wizard of Oz'

<p>Leon Bennett/Getty </p> Kenya Barris attends the BET+ "Diarra From Detroit" Los Angeles Premiere on March 20

Leon Bennett/Getty

Kenya Barris attends the BET+ "Diarra From Detroit" Los Angeles Premiere on March 20

Kenya Barris loves remakes and reboots, despite what critics say about frequent reimaginings of beloved films in recent years.

While on the red carpet for the premiere of the new BET+ series Diarra from Detroit earlier this week, the black-ish creator, 49, tells PEOPLE about his upcoming projects — and why he’s not afraid to remake some Hollywood classics in his own image.

“I want all the remakes!” he tells PEOPLE. “I do fresh stuff too, but I feel like there's really no new stories if we're going to be honest, you know what I'm saying?”

According to the writer-producer, he’s currently preparing for the release of the sequel to his recent remake of the 1992 comedy White Men Can’t Jump.

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“Like we're all sort of, you know, man versus man, man versus nature,” he says, discussing the story structures audiences are familiar with. “They're all sort of the same thing. So I feel like the idea of having a piece of IP [intellectual property] during a time where it was difficult to put people in seats. And if you want to do theatrical things, sometimes if you have a piece of IP that speaks to a lot of people, it gives you something.”

Related: Padma Lakshmi and Black-ish Creator Kenya Barris Are 'Getting to Know Each Other': Source

Thinking back on the recent wave of remakes, Barris says he has some clear favorites — Dune, the science-fiction book franchise that was first made into a movie in 1984, stands out among them.

“I love Dune,” Barris says. “Dune has been done before. It's the best. I'm saying, and I feel like Denis [Villeneuve, the director of the recent Dune films] did something amazing to bring it to life in a different way. So, I'm not bothered by that.”

Since 2019, Barris has been a driving creative force — either as a writer, director or both — behind a number of film and TV remakes, including 2019’s Shaft starring Samuel L. Jackson, a second installment in the Coming 2 America franchise starring Eddie Murphy, a reimagining of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel The Witches in 2020 and a remake of Steve Martin’s 2003 comedy Cheaper by the Dozen.

Related: 'Black-ish' Creator Kenya Barris to Direct Upcoming 'Wizard of Oz' Remake (Reports)

And in 2022, it was announced that Barris would also be heading up a remake of The Wizard of Oz, set to take place in modern-day Inglewood, Calif., as well as a remake of It’s a Wonderful Life, which he told Variety will feature a non-white lead actor.

“This is really a year that I've been really counting my blessings and I want to be really focused and make sure that those things come off well,” he tells PEOPLE, referring to his recent projects, which also include a biopic about comedian Richard Pryor and a sequel to Girls Trip.

“... They're all at [the] green-light stage,” he added. “We're all trying to get them going. Hopefully I'm directing. Hopefully I can get to Wonderful Life this year. It's like a big, big project for me. I would love to make that the second movie I do [this year].”

Related: The True Story Behind' black-ish' : Creator Kenya Barris' Path from Poverty to Hollywood Success

Barris still, of course, takes on opportunities to tell brand-new stories, including Diarra from Detroit. The thriller series follows a schoolteacher who goes on a journey to find a man who ghosted her after a Tinder date, and Barris serves as executive producer alongside the creator of the show, Diarra Kilpatrick.

“It's refreshing and relaxing to be able to see someone who has a vision and talent and knows what they want and doesn't like need to sort of have, you know, other than some conversations and some things here,“ he says of Kilpatrick.

“She really does her thing and I feel like that's what I want,“ he finishes. “Just moving forward to be able to sort of get with talent like that, that I can be a part of seeing them grow.“

Diarra from Detroit premiered March 21 on BET+.

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