It's the comeback that nobody saw coming. Nearly 25 years after Spice World, the most successful girl band in history could be returning to the big screen with a sequel.
Of course, people will scoff.
The original film, directed by Bob Spiers (of Fawlty Towers fame) and written by Kim Fuller (the brother of the Spice Girls' manager Simon) was critically mauled, ending up in most critics' worst film round-ups of the '90s.
But while the film is no great work of art (thanks to the limited acting skills of Posh, Ginger, Sporty, Baby and Scary), it is not an out-and-out turkey either.
To this day, it remains a fixture of British cinematic pop culture and sits alongside The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night (directed by Richard Lester), as a breezy snapshot of a band at the height of their fame. It's also a perfect encapsulation of the '90s Brit invasion (and that attendant tag Cool Britannia), in much the same way that Lester's film became a symbol of Swinging London.
I watched Spice World recently and was pleasantly surprised by how well it stands up; while other comedies of that era such as American Pie and She's All That are now dated by their sexism, Spice World's zaniness and innocence has held firm. There's a reason why the pointedly lo-fi effect of the Spice Bus jumping over Tower Bridge remains a steadfast social media meme.
Spice World also possessed a joie de vivre thanks to its lead actresses. I've spoken to the agents, directors, producers and record company people who witnessed their ascent and they all say the same thing: to be in the presence of the five of them was to witness a force of nature. Their giddiness, captured so perfectly in the film, wasn't acting. It was simply what they were like.
Co-star Richard E Grant was so moved he wrote an entire diary about it, complete with the day Mel B – Scary Spice – demanded that he "Give us a feel of yer bum!".
The snobs should also remember that the original Spice World made more than $100 million worldwide. No doubt the savvy Geri Horner (nee Halliwell) who, in what sounds like a plot line from the new movie, is apparently cajoling Mels B and C, Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham (the best actress in the original) back in front of the camera, will be reminding her former bandmates of this fact.
I suspect history will repeat itself. Film critics will turn up their noses and those, like me, who idolised the Spice Girls in the '90s will be incredibly excited. But beyond the guaranteed hit of nostalgia (the same potent force that sees reunion tours shift tickets and fill column inches), there's a legitimate gap in the UK market for a comedy caper that puts women in their forties front and centre.
In the States, films such as Girls Trip, Wine Country and Fun Mom Dinner have proven that the hopes and humour of women in early middle age can be mined to great effect. The older, wiser Spice Girls could, with a decent script and director attached, enter similar territory. Their older, wiser fans will appreciate it, too.
In Britain, where cinema is increasingly po-faced, what we really, really want is the Spice Girls. Naughty, irreverent and far funnier than we ever gave them credit for.