It was a family affair on Jimmel Kimmel Live! on Wednesday as the men of Shaft—Richard Roundtree, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jessie Usher— united to premiere the trailer for their upcoming film. Tapping into the fun-loving, comedic nature of the new installment, they arrived wearing matching trench coats, joking about their generational divide, and reminding the audience of the longevity of the Shaft franchise that began in 1971.
The newest Shaft film, which is scheduled for release in June, will arrive a year after the failed remake of another Blaxploitation film, Superfly, which was neither a box office nor a critical success. But where Superfly traded in Harlem for Atlanta, and the local drug game for cryptocurrency and the Mexican cartel, the new Shaft is doubling down on its roots. The film, directed by Tim Story with a script from Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow, is a sequel rather than a retelling, and it brings its old stars back with the new.
With the reboot of the franchise also comes a different tone: Moving away from the thriller and noir elements found in the previous films, the trailer shows how Shaft has been retooled as an action-comedy. Whether this change will be successful remains to be seen, but it did make way for an entertaining appearance on Kimmel.
“I’m John Shaft,” Roundtree said without cracking a smile. “I’m John Shaft,” Jackson said, shaking Kimmel’s hand. “I’m also John Shaft,” said Usher.
As Kimmel greeted each of the men, they informed him that he’d be premiering their new trailer. Playing into the age gap, Roundtree attempted to give Kimmel a copy on a VHS tape, followed by Jackson presenting a copy on a Blu-ray disc, while Usher has one ready to go on a USB drive.
“What is that? A vape pen?” Jackson asked.