I think it’s safe to say that we’ve seen our fair share of Sherlock Holmes adaptations over the years. The adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s genius detective has been adapted into just about every medium imaginable since the literary hero first began appearing in short stories in 1887, and those adaptations have also given us all kinds of twists on Holmes himself. But what about the other Holmes. No, not Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s older, even more cerebrally gifted brother. I’m talking about Enola Holmes, Sherlock and Mycroft’s young teenage sister who is something of a sleuth herself. Oh, you’ve never heard of Enola Holmes before? Don’t worry, Netflix will change that soon.
Based on Natalie Springer’s The Enola Holmes Mysteries book series published between 2006 and 2010, Enola Holmes is the upcoming feature film adaptation that sees breakout Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown star as the youngest Holmes sibling who has to outwit her overprotective older brothers to become a detective herself, while also solving the mystery of their mother’s disappearance. Originally supposed to be released theatrically by Legendary Entertainment, it got snapped up by Netflix for streaming release following the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down cinemas. And now we have our first look at the films thanks to a batch of pics revealed yesterday.
If you’re wondering about the guys in those pics with Brown’s Enola, that’s Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin starring as Sherlock and Mycroft respectively. Yes, Henry Cavill aka Superman aka Geralt of Rivia aka that hulking muscle man you swoon over is playing Sherlock Holmes. Also, Sam Claflin is actually four years younger than the 37-year old Cavill and yet he’s playing the older brother! That sort of counter-casting should come as no surprise seeing as Springer took huge liberties with her novels, including Enola Holmes herself who is a completely original creation. Springer also changed up the traditional depictions of the two Holmes boys by making them far more affectionate than the emotionally detached, fully intellectual, high-functioning sociopaths seen in the original stories.
And this has actually landed Springer and Netflix in a bit of hot water. Doyle’s estate has now sued the author, the streaming platform, production Legendary, screenwriter Jack Thorne, director Harry Bradbeer, and more for copyright infringement. You can read the full 19-page complaint filed by the Estate in a New Mexico federal court earlier this week over HERE, but here’s the TL;DR version:
With more than 95 years since their original publication, most of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures – and the characters themselves – have now already passed into the public domain. I.e. nobody owns the intellectual property rights any longer and thus they can be adapted in any way you like. However, I specifically said “most” and not all. Some of the final Holmes stories were published as late as 1927, meaning that they have not yet entered the public domain and thus the Doyle estate still has a claim on them. This is important because it was in his final ten stories that Doyle, having just lived through World War I in which he lost both his brother and eldest son, gave the distant detective an emotional and caring side for the first time. And the Doyle estate is claiming that by having Springer’s version of Sherlock exhibit the same “significant new character traits”, specifically in one scene in the novels (which is presumably also in the movie) in which he expresses “controlled anguish” when his friend Dr. Watson goes missing, the author, Netflix, and co are infringing on the Doyle estate’s copyright of the character and it thus seeks “unspecified damages”.
This is actually not the first time the Doyle estate has sued creators of Sherlock Holmes adaptations for this exact same reason. The 2015’s Mr Holmes, which saw Ian McKellen as an elderly, retired Sherlock whose famous memory was failing him, was also sued by the Doyle estate on the same grounds, with that case settled out of court for an undisclosed sum of money. The pessimist in me is guessing that the Doyle estate is hoping for the same type of payday, because why else would they have waited until Springer’s books were turned into a big-budget film and on the verge of being released before beginning legal proceedings?
As for the film, Enola Holmes also stars Helena Bonham Carter as Eudora Holmes, the siblings’ mother, while the rest of the cast is rounded out by Fiona Shaw, Burn Gorman, Adeel Akhtar, Frances de la Tour, Susie Wokoma, and Louis Partridge. It is currently scheduled to debut on Netflix in September. Industry buzz says that a trailer should be imminent.
Last Updated: June 26, 2020