With the recent announcements that movie properties like The Terminator, Sin City and From Dusk Till Dawn are being adapted into television series, it appears that a trend is developing. The old saying that there aren’t any new ideas may apply here. But it really doesn’t. The new idea is taking something that was successful in one medium and trying to adapt it for another. Or, as we’ve seen with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, a series can be spun off from a blockbuster movie to explore a world or groups of characters more deeply.
Are there other movies that would make good — or even better — TV shows? Oh, yes. Are there films rich enough in concept and characters to sustain a series taking those ideas further in a different format? Absolutely.
Here are 10 movies that could not only make the transition from big screen to small screen, but would benefit greatly from being able to tell their stories over 13 to 22 episodes, rather than a restrictive two-hour timetable.
Admittedly, this is a nod to Bloguin boss Ben Koo, who thought Ghostbusters should’ve been included on our list of movies that need to be remade. Here’s where we try to make up for that omission. Maybe there will be a “Ghostbusters 3” movie, maybe there won’t be. But instead of waiting to see if Bill Murray is willing to get the band back together again with Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, why not just create a new series of adventures for a different group of supernatural investigators?
This could either be a reboot with new actors (Adam Scott? Rainn Wilson?) playing Venkman, Stantz and Spengler. Or it could be “Ghostbusters: The Next Generation,” perhaps with Aykroyd playing a mentor-type figure. The special effects budget for a TV show could be a concern, but shows like Almost Human and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seem to pull it off nicely. Maybe some money could be saved by spoofing those “ghost hunter” reality shows on occasion.
Lady Sif and the Warriors Three
This would be more of a spinoff, much like the aforementioned S.H.I.E.L.D. series. These secondary characters from the “Thor” movies are extremely popular, especially Jaimie Alexander’s Lady Sif, and would provide Marvel with an opportunity to tell sci-fi/fantasy types of stories in Asgard without having to use the God of Thunder himself. Additionally, Sif would be the female lead character that we haven’t seen in the Marvel movies as of yet.
Following this Asgardian quartet could be almost be a network version of Game of Thrones, but more fun and magical. Marvel has so many characters that they’ll never be able to put into the movies. Such a show would take care of that, giving fans more of what they want. The “Where’s Thor” question might hang over this series a bit, but if you saw Thor: The Dark World, it was made rather apparent that the Odinson is occupied with visiting his girlfriend, Jane Foster, on Earth (or Midgard).
Any Given Sunday
I know there are some sports fans who think Oliver Stone’s look at a professional football team was a good movie. I’m not one of them. I thought the whole thing was terrible, though it certainly had some memorable moments. But rather than try and cram all of the storylines Stone’s film attempted to address in a two-hour movie, how about allowing all of that drama to unfold over a season — or multiple seasons — of a TV series?
Let’s see coach Tony D’Amato try to hang onto his job as the game changes. Follow upstart Willie Beamen’s attempt to unseat veteran quarterback Cap Rooney. What about Christina Pagniacci trying to succeed in the boy’s club of pro football ownership? The drugs, the injuries, the egos, the lifestyles — all of that would make for great TV. But didn’t ESPN already try this with Playmakers? Yes, but the network’s partnership with the NFL led to the series being canceled. Put this on a channel with no such ties, like AMC, and give the writers freedom to tackle everything.
Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Will we ever get a sequel to the American adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy? To me, it looks doubtful, despite David Fincher making a damn fine version of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Fincher is working on adapting Gone Girl now, Craig is probably gearing up to play James Bond again and Mara has been keeping busy in several films. There’s talk of adapting the second Lisbeth Salander novel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, with a different director than Fincher, but the screenplay is still being worked on.
Why not use Salander and Mikael Blomkvist in a TV series instead? There are plenty of stories that could be told with the computer hacker heroine and investigative journalist. Fans of the books and movies (including the Swedish adaptations that were made, starring Noomi Rapace) might not like it if entirely new stories were created. But perhaps the last two novels in the tirlogy can provide a road map for the series, much as Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs are supposedly doing for Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal series.
The Other Guys
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has shown that there’s a place for a police comedy on TV these days. Is there room for two? Why not, especially if you create a series around the concept of the Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg film from 2010. A New York police precinct is dominated by two supercops, much like Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the “Bad Boys” movies, until their cockiness and disregard for common sense gets them killed. So that leaves lesser detectives to take over. In this instance, one is better suited for accounting, while the other has a terrible temper that gets him into trouble and relegates him to smaller cases and office work.
Maybe this concept wouldn’t stand up without the star power of Ferrell and Wahlberg. But there are so many talented actors and comedians out there that someone could fill those roles. What about Rob Riggle in the Ferrell role and Kiefer Sutherland (parodying his Jack Bauer persona) as Wahlberg’s character? Those are just two names to throw out there. We’d also need someone to play the ridiculously gorgeous wife (Eva Mendes in the movie) married to the goofy cop, making the tough cop completely incredulous.
X-Men: First Class
It’s high school (and maybe junior high), but with mutants! We’ve seen from the first three X-Men films that the superhero team operates out of a school for “gifted youngsters,” or kids that can suddenly fly, read minds or become furry monsters. Matthew Vaughn’s prequel, X-Men: First Class, showed how Professor X and Magneto teamed up and established this school — and shelter — for mutants who were sure to persecuted by humanity and need a safe place to learn to control their abilities.
As mentioned earlier with the “Thor” films, there are more characters related to the X-Men than can ever used in the movies. (Though Bryan Singer seems to be trying to shoehorn every mutant he can think of into next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.) The series can follow one or more characters developing extraordinary abilities (though ones that can fit a TV special effects budget) who are recruited by the school and learn to acclimate as their lives change drastically. Those young mutants would essentially resemble the audience, learning about this world for the first time. And what about being trained to become part of a superhero team?
Not having X-Men like Wolverine, Storm and Professor Xavier in the series might be a problem, but they could always be off on a mission. Fans would deal with that if a secondary character from the movies (Cyclops? Iceman? Colossus?) was used as a bridge between series and movies. Or a popular character from the comic books who either hasn’t been used or was barely used (Angel? Emma Frost?) could be used to lead the school. There are so many possibilities to consider here.
The Bourne Legacy
Fans love Jason Bourne, but maybe don’t quite love replacement Jason Bourne. That’s what The Bourne Legacy gave us with Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross filling in for Matt Damon’s Bourne last year. According to IMDB, “Legacy” earned $113 million at the U.S. box office, less than the film’s reported $125 million budget. But the movie made $276 million internationally, which is why we’ll be getting a sequel.
But if Cross is off-limits, a TV series could still follow another agent who was part of the Operation Outcome experiment conducted by the Blackbriar and Treadstone CIA programs. The tagline for The Bourne Legacy was “There was never just one,” and that could obviously be applied to a series as well. Maybe the CIA didn’t eliminate all of the agents used in the experiment. A series could focus more on the effects of the drugs used to enhance strength, agility and intelligence, as well as the chemical dependency created by the regimen. Of course, there would be plenty of action, fighting, espionage and car chases. Just maybe not in other countries, as we’ve seen in the Bourne movies.
(Thanks to Sam Genson, @TigerCub33, for the suggestion.)
Men in Black
Would a TV series suffer from not having Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones? Probably, but that makes it important to find good actors who could play Jay and Kay. Of course, that problem could be avoided by following two entirely different MIB agents while keeping that buddy cop dynamic alive. We could be introduced to a new character and see a different version of the training program Jay went through in the first Men in Black movie.
Or maybe a series could pick up where Men in Black 3 left off and follow a younger version of Kay in the 1970’s. It could be like a sci-fi Mad Men! A period comedy-drama could be expensive, but less expensive than the sleek, modern, effects-filled world of the movies. The series could also continue the gag of having cheesier aliens (i.e., guys in suits or make-up) like we would’ve seen in 70’s movies, perhaps keeping costs low on special effects. But really, the majority of that budget would be spent on goo when aliens are blown up by MIB weapons, right?
I may have a bit of bias here. I love The Rundown. It’s one of my favorite movies. I’d argue that this is when The Rock (or Dwayne Johnson) truly became a star, showing that he can do comedy and action, all with a big dose of charisma. The Rock is now such a big star that he wouldn’t do a TV series. So some other jacked-up action star who’s also charming enough to make us laugh would have to take over the role of bounty hunter Beck. Finding that guy could be difficult. But if he’s out there, you have the potential for a great series.
The show could either pick up where the movie left off, as Beck finishes his last job and is likely on the run from the crime boss he screwed over, perhaps while also trying to fulfill his dream of becoming a chef and opening a restaurant. Or this could be a reboot, in which Beck is dispatched to Brazil for that one last job to retrieve his boss’s son, Travis. Along the way, Beck and Travis discover a golden artifact that could be worth a lot of money. After returning to the U.S., perhaps the two decide they’re so good as this bounty-hunting thing that they start their own business.
A sci-fi police drama? How could this not be a huge success, especially with the high concept of creating a program that is able to anticipate crimes and stop them before being committed. PreCrime! In Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film starring Tom Cruise, the PreCrime program is eventually shuttered when it can’t prevent a murder, thus failing to accomplish its exact objective.
A TV series could either pick up from this point and perhaps follow an attempt to revive the PreCrime program, perhaps led by the cop who exposed its flaws. Or, as with several other of the shows we’ve listed here, this could reboot the movie and start an entirely new story in a world where the PreCrime program has kept Washington, D.C. (or any other large metropolitan city) safe for years.
As in the movie, the chief of PreCrime Captain Anderton discovers the inherent flaw in a system where two of three precognitives predict a possible outcome for a crime about to take place. But what happens to the other scenario, in which something else occurred? If a crime still took place, would administrators try to hide those cases? That kind of conspiracy could fuel a TV series —and the mythology that comes with it — for years. Besides the primary storyline, a Minority Report show could demonstrate what a future society and its innovations would look like.
(Thanks to Matt Wallace, @MattinToledo, for this suggestion.)