Each year, the chatter about television networks running out of new ideas gets louder and louder. Every season unleashes a slew of projects with overdone premises (a group of attractive friends dating in a big city!) and watered-down remakes of British programs (Gracepoint) or remakes of once-popular American shows (The Odd Couple). It looks like the trend next season will be film-to-TV adaptations. This isn’t shocking — About a Boy is a surprise hit for NBC, Fargo was renewed by FX, and 12 Monkeys will soon premiere on Syfy — but now it seems networks are picking up every adaptation they can get their hands on, no matter how bad it sounds. Here’s the rundown on 15 adaptations that are in the works and their potential.
Marley and Me (NBC) The movie was a holiday tearjerker starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, and focused on the misadventures of an impossible-to-train dog that, at the end of the film, dies and breaks the hearts of every unsuspecting child in the audience. The TV show will pick up after the events of the movie, when the entire family has moved back to Florida and is “forced to adopt” a puppy that it also names Marley. Marley 2.0 “will help shed light not only on the growing pains of the Grogan family, but also the lives of the neighbors, and fellow dog-owners, around them.”
Potential: Very, very low. The movie wasn’t exactly a fun-filled, Beethoven-like romp that would lend itself well to an NBC sitcom. Considering this new Marley will be virtually identical to the old Marley, I’m a little bummed it isn’t a paranormal horror-thriller about a ghost dog possessing a young puppy and haunting the family who put him to sleep. I’d happily watch that.
The Illusionist (The CW)
The Illusionist, a 2006 film also known as, “Wait, this isn’t The Prestige?,” was a fictionalized account of the Mayerling Incident and a box-office hit. The CW adaptation will keep its period-piece roots but switch the setting to New York and focus on “a renowned illusionist who returns home from a decade in prison to find his wife married to the ruthless crime boss who framed him.” He uses magic to perform heists and win back the love of his life.
Potential: Iffy. The CW has recently had some luck with dramas (The Flash, Reign, etc.), and The Illusionist will definitely have some cool visual tricks, but the ongoing attempt to win back his wife could certainly get tiring. Also, if you’re going to do Ocean’s 11 with magic, why not just adapt Now You See Me?
Bradley Cooper starred in this 2011 thriller about a man who takes an experimental drug so he’s able to finish writing his book but then begins to experience blackouts and thinks he may or may not have murdered someone. Honestly, I fell asleep during the movie, so who even knows what happened! The TV show picks up at the end of the film and focuses on Cooper’s character using the drug for good.
Potential: Low. On the one hand, CBS can turn a terrible pilot into terrible gold — meaning, no matter how bad it is, CBS’ viewers will watch it forever — and the pilot is directed by the film’s director, Neil Burger (who also wrote The Illusionist). On the other hand, do you even remember Limitless? Of course you don’t.
Details: This 2005 comedy starred Will Smith as a pick-up artist — ahem, date doctor — who helps sad schlub Kevin James with his crush. The pilot is described as an “action-packed one-hour,” and no other details are given, but presumably, it will just have some guy dispensing dating advice every week — while also struggling with his own love life!
Potential: Pretty high. There was a bidding war for the project (and three seasons ago it was developed as a half-hour sitcom for CBS), and the movie was relatively well-received. Of course, the show will lack Smith’s charm and I’m not entirely sure why a rom-com will be “action-packed,” but I can see Hitch as a watchable series.
Tom Hanks starred in the film as a bachelor who spends his party trying not to cheat on his fiancée while his friend repeatedly tries to kill himself. It’s hilarious. The TV show will be an anthology series, if only because ABC thinks “anthology series” sounds fancy enough to offset the fact that it is remaking Bachelor Party, and every season will focus on a different wedding party. It’s really cute ABC is banking on multiple seasons.
Potential: Iffy. Here’s the good: It’s created by a New Girl duo (JJ Philbin and Josh Malmuth) and doesn’t seem too concerned with following the movie. Here’s the bad: Everything else.
Uncle Buck (ABC)
This John Hughes comedy starred John Candy as Uncle Buck, an unemployed loser who has to babysit his nieces and nephews. It doesn’t sound like much, and it’s definitely low on the Hughes totem pole, but it is a pretty fun movie. The series will follow the same premise.
Potential: High. Uncle Buck may have already failed as a series (one season in 1990), but people love stories about a man-child (ugh), and ABC viewers in particular love “unconventional” family comedies. It won’t be anything great, but it’ll last a while.
A terrible 2005 Jennifer Lopez/Jane Fonda comedy that finds the two women squaring off because of the shared man in their lives (Lopez’s husband/Fonda’s son). The series is only loosely based on the film and “explores the fraught world of a happy couple about to learn the joys and horrors of parenthood while managing the most challenging relationship of all — the one between a wife and her husband’s mother.”
Potential: Pretty high. This is a show that doesn’t even need to be tied to the film because it’s a typical and broad sitcom plot with mass appeal (though I’m not convinced Fox is the best network). It is a multi-camera, but it has two impressive writers behind it: Carrie Diaries EP Amy B. Harris and 30 Rock EP John Riggi.
This so-so film starred Dennis Quaid as an advertising executive who has to deal with his new boss (Topher Grace), who is both half his age and dating his daughter. The series will follow the same basic narrative.
Potential: Pretty high. There’s actually a lot of potential in this premise (though I’m sure it will be compared to Happyish), and because it’s a CBS series, it could be mined for years to come. It’s also promising that it’s being developed by the movie’s original filmmaker, Paul Weitz (his brother Chris will also EP).
It’s actually surprising that this popular and critically acclaimed movie isn’t already a hit science-fiction TV series. The movie is set in an alternate future where a “precrime” unit exists to stop murders before they happen, and the show will pick up ten years after the film’s end as a Precog tries to live a normal life.
Potential: High. The biggest problem Minority Report will face is living up to the film’s quality and not disappointing its fans. It’s an impossible task, but the story is cool and interesting enough to sustain itself as an individual program — though it’d definitely be a better fit for Syfy (perhaps paired with 12 Monkeys) if it had the budget.
Everyone has seen Big and everyone loves Big and no one wants a Big TV series. The half-hour comedy is “loosely based on the movie and would explore what it means to be an adult, what it means to be a kid, and how in today’s world those two things are more confused than ever.” Sounds positively dry.
Potential: Low. A Big adaptation in 2014 just seems desperate, no matter how “loose” the adaptation is. It’s disappointing, because the two men behind the series — Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce — are immensely talented comedic writers, and if anyone could pull it off, I’m sure it’s them. Unfortunately, I’m also sure this shouldn’t happen.
Rush Hour (CBS)
The Rush Hour franchise was an insanely huge hit, but it’s still a very strange choice for a television adaptation. Director Brett Ratner will EP the action-comedy that is “expected to stay close” to the original.
Potential: High. It’s an action-comedy/police-centric procedural on CBS, so it’s basically a guaranteed hit. Combine that with its co-writer/producer Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Clone High) and the general love America has for buddy comedies about by-the-book detectives and their loose canon partners, and Rush Hour could definitely work.
School of Rock is another no-brainer of a TV adaptation, especially for Nickelodeon. The series will be very similar to the show, centering on a musician posing as a substitute teacher at a prep school. I bet both the students and the teacher will learn a bit about themselves!
Potential: Very, very high, and Nickelodeon knows it. The network ordered 13 episodes straight to series, and it’s already slated for a spring 2015 premiere. It’s produced by the film’s original director, Richard Linklater, and looks like it will appeal to both Nickelodeon’s core audience and older fans of the film.
Details: Real Genius is a 1985 Val Kilmer movie, in which he plays a slacker, rock star-like genius, that remains beloved today. Set in the present day, the series will take the form of a single-camera workplace comedy about Kilmer’s character and a “sheltered, naive co-worker.”
Potential: Pretty high. Fans of the movie will surely be unhappy with the remake, which will never live up the original’s quality, but everything behind the scenes seems pretty solid: it’s a Happy Madison production, written by Workaholics‘ Craig DiGregorio and Parks and Recreation‘s David King. If Real Genius can escape its adaptation status and become a solid workplace comedy, then it’ll have legs.
NBC must’ve gotten a big head after the success of About a Boy, because the network is all about movie adaptations for next season. The film Problem Child centers on a couple that adopts a young boy who is, to put it bluntly, a total asshole. The series will be written by Scot Armstrong (Old School, The Hangover) as a single-camera comedy.
Potential: Low. Bad Teacher didn’t work, and neither did Bad Judge. This is essentially Bad Child, and it doesn’t seem any better. Armstrong targets a specific bro-centric audience with most of his films, and I can’t really see it working for Problem Child (which, at its heart, was sweetly fucked up).
Say Anything (NBC)
Details: Set ten years after the events of Say Anything the movie, and after Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court have (understandably) broken up, the series would follow Lloyd trying, once again, to win over Diane when she returns.
Potential: Zero. Cameron Crowe complained on Twitter, and the project was shut down.