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Channing Tatum joins 'Splash' remake – why you may find his role surprising

Channing Tatum will reportedly take on the role originally portrayed by Daryl Hannah in the 1984 movie. Jillian Bell will also star in the new movie.

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    Actor Channing Tatum, seen here attending the premiere of 'The Hateful Eight' at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York in 2015, will star as a merman in an upcoming gender-flipped remake of 1984's 'Splash.'
    Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/File
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Actor Channing Tatum will reportedly star in a remake of the 1984 film “Splash,” but don’t look for him to step into Tom Hanks’s shoes. 

Mr. Tatum and actress Jillian Bell will reportedly star in a new version of “Splash,” which tells the story of a human who makes the acquaintance of a denizen of the sea, but the new take on the story will reportedly gender-swap the roles, with Tatum playing a merman and Ms. Bell portraying the human who encounters him.

In the original movie, human Allen Bauer (Hanks) met mermaid Madison (Daryl Hannah).

It’s the newest swap of original roles following, for example, this summer’s new “Ghostbusters” movie, where "Thor" star Chris Hemsworth portrayed the receptionist in a role that originally went to actress Annie Potts. The title characters, originally portrayed by Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson, were of course played by actresses Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. 

The "Splash" remake seems to be mostly well-received, with Deadline writer Mike Fleming Jr. calling the new version “an intriguing take” and Rebecca Ford and Borys Kit of the Hollywood Reporter writing that the new film will have “an interesting twist.” 

Meanwhile, as Hollywood's lack of female directors continues to draw attention – the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs are both looking into it –and women's depictions in film and the scarcity of female-led movies are also examined, USA Today writer Hoai-Tran Bui sees Bell's central role in this movie as a positive change from the original film, when “Hannah’s mermaid Madison was held on a pedestal of femininity, unable to speak for the majority of the film, and under-developed as a character outside of her love for Hank’s Allen.” 

Bell playing Hanks’s character represents “a win for female leads in blockbusters,” writes Ms. Bui.

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