Jem And The Holograms was birthed as a toy line back in the 1980s and appeared in televised cartoon series between 1985 and 1988, selling like hotcakes and becoming a minor sensation, albeit more across the pond than here. Now G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) director Jon M. Chu and low-budget horror maestro Jason Blum are betting that they can still be a hit with the YouTube crowd (but don't go expecting terrors aside from some of the wigs – this is Blumhouse Productions in non-horror mode.)
The new movie chronicles the rock star coming of age of Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples), who has to fight the pain of her father's death to find her voice and start to perform alongside sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott) and foster siblings Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora Perrineau), who make up the Holograms group. Jem – a nickname her father used to call her – is unhappy about embracing the big hair and over the top costumes, but realises she needs to for the good of her family.
"It's actually about a group of young people who are going to be inundated with this idea of fame and fortune and products and stuff, and within all that, how do you stay true to who you really are?" Chu tells USA Today. "That's the real soul of the movie."
Chu and Blum were initially uncertain about the movie until they cracked how it should fit into today's music scene. "How can you even have a secret identity with all this social media? But then it dawned on us: Wait, everybody has a secret identity. The idea of 'Who are you really?' is more relevant today than ever. That's what inspired me to say, 'Let's roll the dice and try to make this movie.'"
Jem And The Holograms is out in the UK on 21 December.