Posted on Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
TV companies are going crazy trying to mine film libraries for the next big television series, because why come up with an original untested idea without an established brand name title, right? I almost included the movie to television series trend in my 9 Current Movie and Television Trends I Hate article last month, but I decided it was too soon to make that judgement.
While I’m already tired of seeing the announcements, I really loved Fargo (and I really mean LOVED — it’s my favorite television series of the year), I’m still enjoying Friday Night Lights/Parenthood showrunner Jason Katims‘ About a Boy, and I know many people who really dig Hannibal, Bates Motel, and From Dusk till Dawn: The Series. So it’s hard for me to condemn it at this point. And yes there are also Gotham, Constantine and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I consider those shows comic book adaptations.
You might be shocked to learn that there are currently over 30 television shows in development right now based on big screen movies. Which are good ideas? Which sound horrible? After the jump, I attempt to rank all of the movies being adapted into TV shows, by concept from worst to most promising ideas.
Movies Being Adapted Into TV Shows, Ranked From Worst To Best Idea
31. Real Genius
Adam Sandler‘s company Happy Madison Productions is developing an NBC television adaptation of the 1985 college campus comedy starring Val Kilmer. Craig DiGregorio (Workaholics co-exec producer) wrote the television pilot with David King (Parks and Recreation, The League).
The movie was “a smart and cheeky guide to doing right by the old coming of age comedy structure” about an individualistic student Chris Knight (Kilmer) and his fellow student and extreme brown-noser Kent. But the TV series version will drop most of the signature elements and set the story in a workplace instead of a school. The show will center around “the relationship between two co-workers with incompatible personalities.” Watch the trailer for the original Real Genius movie here. The workplace comedy doesn’t sound like something in my wheelhouse.
30. Marley and Me
NBC has given a put pilot commitment to a Marley and Me TV series as a single-camera sitcom. The show will be a follow-up to the 2008 dramedy directed by David Frankel which was based on the memoir by John Grogan. The film told the story of Grogan’s relationship with his dog, which had many ups and downs. Of course, the movie definitively ended that story, but the show will pick up where the film left off.
John and Jenny Grogan (played by Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston in the movie) have just moved back to Florida with their three kids (a 16-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl, and a 6-year-old girl) so he can return to his newspaper column. When they discover their next door neighbors are neglecting an adorable puppy, they have no choice but to take the animal in. They name the new dog Marley because she inherits all of Marley’s stuff, which already has Marley’s name on it, and because they need to name the show after the original movie to sucker people into watching.
Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City, The Big C) will script, Frankel will direct the pilot and I won’t be watching.
Amy R Harris (The Carrie Diaries) and John Riggi (30 Rock) are writing a multi-camera adaptation of Monster-in-Law for Warner Bros Television. The series will be “loosely inspired” by the 2005 comedy starring Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda, which centered around a woman butting heads with her fiancé’s overprotective mother in the run-up to the wedding, but the show will follow a happy couple juggling parenthood and a complicated relationship with the husband’s mother.
The project is not currently set up at a network but it seems perfect for network television. I have no interest in a show spotlighting these kind of family dynamics.
28. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
I have to admit, I didn’t think a Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs movie was a good idea — I’m not sure anyone did. But I think Phil Lord and Chris Miller surprised nearly everyone. So when I heard that DHX Media, the company behind the Paddington film and in-development TV re-do of Inspector Gadget, is working with Sony Animation to create a Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs TV series, I had the same reaction.
The show will consist of 22-minute CG-animated episodes that follow the basic concept of the two films, but we don’t yet know how it will be “re-imagined for the small screen” just yet. We have heard that Flint Lockwood and “many familiar faces from the film like new school reporter Sam Sparks, Flint’s father Tim, Steve the Monkey, and sardine model Brent McHale” will feature into the new television show. But without Lord and Miller typing away on the other side of that computer screen, I’m not sure I care to see how they expand the 30-page children’s book into 26 episodes.
27. Uncle Buck
ABC is developing a tv series adaptation of Uncle Buck, the 1989 comedy starring John Candy and directed by John Hughes. This is not the first time Uncle Buck has been a tv series. Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley (both MADtv alums) will write the multi-camera half-hour series, as well as executive produce alongside Will Packer (Ride Along).
Hughes’ original movie featured Candy as a schlubby man-child type who is tasked with watching his brother’s unruly kids. Laurie Metcalf, Macaulay Culkin, Amy Madigan, and Gaby Hoffmann also starred. Much like most of John Hughes’ projects, Uncle Buck featured characterizations and situations that were somehow relatable by most everyone and despite the music, clothes and pop culture, had a timeless core. So I can see why ABC would want to try to turn Uncle Buck into a sitcom, and if they are able to avoid the pitfalls of the 1990 television show, it could work. But I’m just not interested.
Paramount is remaking the hit 1990 film Ghost for television. Writers Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner (who worked together on Fringe) are attached to adapt the film for the small screen. No network is attached and only a pilot is in the works at this time.
The original film starred Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg. Directed by Jerry Zucker, it won two Oscars and was the second-highest grossing film of the year, making over $215 million. The movie was about a murder victim who attempts to solve the crime of his own killing, and also reconnect with his girl, while existing as a ghost.
Now this idea could either be adapted as a serial story with a season long arc or as a procedural following the Whoopi Goldberg character communicating with ghosts to solve crimes and reconnect with their lost loves. Neither of these sound like a show I’ll be watching.
25. Problem Child
Problem Child is one of those late Eighties/Early nineties comedies that was somehow iconic but wasn’t very good. The film told the story of couple (played by John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck) who can’t conceive and decide to adopt. The result is Junior, the titular character who loves to terrorize everything and everyone around him. The film made over $50 million, which was a lot at that time, and even got a sequel the next year.
Old School and Hangover writer Scot Armstrong has been hired by NBC to develop the movie into a single-camera sitcom. There is nothing I hate more on television or movies (ugh Phantom Menace) than an annoying child actor who is given reign to have at it. And the premise is nothing but repetitive — it’ll likely be episode after episode of the Problem Child doing bad things and then being forgiven or learning a lesson. But of course, repetitive predictable programing like this does oh so well on network television so I imagine it will (sadly) find an audience.
24. Bachelor Party
ABC has hired New Girl writers J.J. Philbin and Josh Malmuth to make a television adaptation of the 1984 Tom Hanks comedy about the ultimate bachelor party thrown by a group of friends on the eve of his wedding. The movie took place over the crazy night testing if Hanks’ character could resist the temptation of being unfaithful to his fiancée. Of course, I have no idea how you turn this idea in’t a television sitcom, although the pilot writes itself.
The half-hour comedy centers around three couples: one just starting to fall in love, one on the verge of marriage, and one freshly divorced. The series will supposedly examine modern relationships and romance as the characters “experience the trial-by-fire that is the modern day, co-ed bachelor/bachelorette extravaganza.” It’s envisioned as an anthology, with each season centering on a different wedding party.
I agree with Angie Han, the series really doesn’t need to be an adaptation of the 1984 movie as its almost entirely different. Like… whats the point of calling your movie Battleship if its an alien concept not even remotely based on the source material?