Making a TV pilot is undoubtedly frustrating.
Pumping tons of time and energy to create a compelling premise, crafting characters that are interesting right from the get go, and leaving enough room open to explore a complex story over the course of a season, just to have a network pass?
That sounds like hell.
Maybe that’s why it seems much easier to adapt other works for TV. Why start from scratch when you can adapt another property, with all of the heavy lifting done already and a fan base already built in?
That seems to be the million dollar question these days as TV executives keep reaching into their respective studios' vaults, using beloved movies as source material for the moving pictures on the small screen in your living room. Movie to TV adaptations have been around forever, but lately announcements for new movie-inspired pilots pop up Hollywood trade publications as reguarly as announcements for the lastest crop of superhero films.
Many of these cinema-inspired shows are already on the air, but we’ve compiled a list of all the other movies bound for TV that are in development, to put a microscope on TV’s latest trend...
These are shows currently in development. Limitless, 12 Monkeys, Damien, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Minority Report, Shadowhunters, Rush Hour, and School of Rock have already aired, thus we've removed them from the list. We'll continue to update the list with new information as it becomes available.
Uncle Buck, the film starring John Candy where he plays an irresponsible uncle forced with taking care of his nephew Macaulay Culkin and others, was already made into a show in 1990, and it was terrible. Nevertheless, ABC is developing a new Uncle Buck series as a multi-camera comedy from producer Will Packer (Ride Along). Trying to capitalize on the success of show's this TV season with diverse casts, ABC has cast Mike Epps as Buck Russell and has ordered the show to series. There is already a trailer for the 2016 series.
Westworld, based on Michael Crichton's 1973 film, is gaining steam as HBO continues to slay its competition in the drama department. Not only is Westworld about an amusement park filled with lifelike robots, which sounds awesome, but also the cast will be as deep as any production on television.
Anthony Hopkins will be a series regular for the first time in his revered career, and he’ll be alongside James Marsden, Thandie Newton and Ed Harris. Shall we name drop some more? Jonathan Nolan has writing duties and J.J. Abrams is attached as an executive producer. We have more plenty more info on Westworld here.
Kevin Bacon vs. goo-filled giant worms known as “Tremors,” round 2. It can’t be any worse than The Following, so the second TV adaptation for Tremors gets the Den of Geek stamp of approval. Bacon will reprise his role as Valentine McKee and the series will be set in the fictional town of Perfection, Nevada, just like the original 1990 film. After four straight-to-video sequels, Syfy brought Tremors to TV for a 13-episode run in 2003.
There’s currently no network attached as the project is in its infancy, but we do know that Universal Cable Productions and Blumhouse Productions are developing the series reboot, with Andrew Miller (The Secret Circle) to write the adaptation and Bacon to produce.
Snowpiercer was an odd success story from the start. The South Korean film, based on a French comic, and starring Marvel’s Captain America Chris Evans, managed to pull in more than $86 million at the global box office (only $4 million in the US), while earning critical acclaim after its release. If you’re paying close attention to this list, box office success isn’t the only measuring stick to earning a television adaptation.
Josh Friedman, who produced Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, NBC’s Crossbones and the upcoming loosely-based Wizard of Oz adaptation Emerald City, is bringing the story of a globe-spanning train that hold that last survivors of an ice age to television.
Coming off the successful launch of 12 Monkeys, an original entry on this now unwieldy list, Syfy is doubling down on movie adaptations with Van Helsing. Currently shooting and set for a late 2016 premiere, the story isn’t a direct ode to the 2004 film of the same name starring Hugh Jackman as a monster-hunting vigilante. Syfy’s update follows Vannesa Helsing, the daughter of Abraham Van Helsing, the vampire hunter from Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula novel. As for the mythology update, Syfy is going for The Walking Dead meets Dracula x 1 million. Vanessa Helsing will be resurrected five years in the future to find that the world is overrun with vampires thus beginning a quest for survival.
Sylvester Stallone drew first blood when he signed on to play Green Beret John Rambo in 1982’s First Blood. Proving anything Stallone touches turns to decades worth of franchise gold, the hulking leading man is set to executive produce a Rambo TV series for Fox. Tentatively called Rambo: New Blood, the series will indeed find a new red-blooded American military veteran whose lineage reportedly connects back to the original franchise. We have more info on the Rambo series here.
Yet another trifecta entry on this list (from book to movie to television adaptation), First Wives Club could be coming back to give hell to ungrateful ex-husbands. Based on an Olivia Goldsmith novel and adapted into a 1996 film that starred Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn, TV Land picked up a pilot that will be set in modern-day San Francisco. New Girl’s Rebecca Addelman will pen the script and Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City) will executive produce the pilot.
Carl Reiner's body-swap comedy could be swapping mediums. All of Me, the 1984 comedy starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin, is reportedly in development as a half-hour comedy at NBC. In the film, Martin plays Roger Cobb, a lawyer hired by dying millionairess to rework her will, one that says her soul should enter a younger woman’s body after death. Through a series of blunders, the soul ultimately enters Cobb’s body instead, creating the greatest buddy-lawyer comedy ever captured on film.
The concept doesn’t particularly lend itself to a TV series format, though Deadline is reporting that it could be an anthology series with a soul jumping into a different body each week. It sounds like a complete departure from the source material, but we’ll have to keep watch. Universal Television is backing the project, with My Boys creator Betsy Thomas to serve as showrunner.
When Taken hit theaters in 2009, few would have dared to guess that it would ultimately turn into a franchise that grossed nearly $1 billion at the box office. Yet here we are, with French filmmaker Luc Besson’s Taken franchise responsible for earning Liam Neeson millions of dollars and what will go down as an iconic role for the Irish actor.
Taken may take another unlikely step (though as this list continues to grow, we can’t say that anymore), crossing over to the television world. NBC picked up the story of former CIA operative Bryan Mills. The story is a prequel, which follows Mills before he was married and had a child that would eventually be kidnapped and rescued. As of now, Liam Neeson is not involved in the project. Brooklyn Sudano and Clive Standen are set to star in the straight-to-series adaptation. The series is written and executive produced by Homeland's Alex Cary.
A movie about a sci-fi TV show is becoming a sci-fi TV show for Amazon. Partnering with Paramount Television, Amazon Studios is bringing the 1999 cult comedy hit Galaxy Quest to its Amazon Prime Instant Video.
The film centered on the cast of a Star Trek-esque TV show that is abducted by an alien race that mistakes the actors as a real starship crew. The film's co-writer Robert Gordon will write and executive produce the pilot, with director Dean Parisot returning behind the camera. No word on if any of the original cast members will return, but we'll be sure to follow this one closely. Read more about it here.
TNT has ordered a pilot based on the 2010 Australian crime drama, Animal Kingdom. TNT's version will be Americanized but based on a similar concept: 17-year-old Joshua "J" Cody moves in with his crazy, drug using grandmother and his bank-robbing uncles in Southern California after his mother has an overdose. Quickly, J is pulled into their wild lifestyle.
Finn Cole (Peaky Blinders) will play J, while Vikings' Ben Robson will play the middle-brother of J's uncles, Craig, a fearless, seasoned criminal and the toughest of his family. Ellen Barkin (Ocean's Thirteen) will play J's grandmother, and Scott Speedman (Underworld) and Sean Hatosy (Southland) will appear in the pilot. The series is set to premiere in late 2016.
The Antoine Fuqua directed/David Ayer written 2001 police thriller Training Day is remembered fondly as an explosive cop drama and possibly the best work of Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke's careers. Now, because the television landscape doesn't have enough shows about cops, Fuqua is teaming up with producer Jerry Bruckhiemer and writer Will Beall (Gangster Squad) to bring Training Day to TV.
Beall will write and Danny Cannon will direct this neo-noir thriller that will take place 15 years after the events of the film and center on Hawke and Washington's characters and the LAPD. The story will see a reversal of the original premise, with the younger rookie cop being played by a black actor and the older corrupt detective being played by a white actor. CBS has ordered a pilot with Bill Paxton signed on to star. Read more about it here.
Jason can't stay dead. The character always returns to stalk teenagers whether in sequels, reboots, or TV series. Yes, Friday the 13th looks to have another TV series in the works, the 13th project of the Friday the 13th franchise (Spooky!). CW Network President Mark Pedowitz confirmed at the Television Critics Association Press Tour that the network is going to be taking a more grounded approach to the Jason Vorhees/Camp Crystal Lake saga.
Steve Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle (The Pretenders) will write the project, which will center on a detective searching for his missing brother when Jason Vorhees, believed to be dead, comes back to terrorize the camp. MTV had success with its Scream adaptation, with horror series in vouge among teens, so expect to see more horror adaptations appear on this list.
For a while it was rumored Disney was looking to remake Gary Marshall's The Flamingo Kid for the big screen. Brett Ratner was reportedly on board to direct with Nzingha Stewart (For Colored Girls) writing the script. Now it seems that The Flamingo Kid may be heading to TV after all. TV Line says that ABC Studios is supposedly on the hunt for a showrunner that can create a half-hour comedy out of the 1984 film, which saw Matt Dillion play blue collar kid working at an upscale beach resort in order to be near his crush.
This romantic tear-jearker based on Nicholas Sparks' best-selling novel of the same name became a sleeper sensation for New Line in the 2004 Ryan Gossling/Rachel McAdams adaptation. The CW is hoping to mine the film's decade spanning love story for a period piece romantic drama based on the early days of Noah and Allie's relationship in post-World War II 1940s North Carolina. Sparks will executive produce the show under is Nicholas Sparks Productions banner in association with Warner Bros. Television. Todd Graf will handle scripting duties.
For a long time, Frank Darabont’s dream project was bringing Stephen King’s The Mist to the big screen. It wasn’t nearly as successful as Darabont’s other King adaptations (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption) but the film had its place as a chilling horror mystery with moderate box office success. In 2013, there was talk of The Weinstein Company making a jump into TV production, and one of the main projects was a Darabont-led mini-series based on The Mist.
One TV trend that is more widespread and has a longer history in television than the movie adaptation is the legal drama. So creating a legal drama based on a movie seems like a no-brainer, but add in a supernatural twist?! I bet it’s ordered right to series!
The Keanu Reeves, 1997 legal drama, The Devil’s Advocate, where a lawyer begins working for Satan (Al Pacino standing in for the devil), is currently being developed for NBC by Warner Bros. TV. A procedural where the lead character’s boss is actually evil incarnate sounds like it could be a hit. Last we heard, it was still in development at NBC, however that was almost a year and half ago at this point.
In another book to film to TV series, -- Shooter, the 2007 thriller starring Mark Wahlberg -- is coming to USA Network. Based on the novel Point of Impact, the film follows Gunnery Sergeant Bob Lee Swagger (how perfect is that name?) after he’s framed for murder. Never, ever, frame someone named Bob Swagger.
Wahlberg clearly wants more of the character. He’ll be executive producer on the project and Underworld: Awakening screenwriter John Hlavin will write the series. Simon Cellan Jones will direct the pilot which will star Ryan Phillippe as Bob Lee Swagger. USA ordered 10 episodes, but no premiere date has been announced.
Author Dennis Lehane’s books -- from Mystic River to Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island -- have fared well on the big screen. The latest one, the Martin Scorsese directed Shutter Island, is getting a prequel series at HBO. The 2010 film follows U.S. Marshals investigating the strange happenings at a mental hospital on a creepy offshore island.
The HBO series, tentatively titled “Ashecliffe,” will document the early days of the hospital and its founders. Lehane is penning the pilot episode and Scorsese will direct the series.
Frequency, supernatural flick starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel, is being eyed for the TV treatment. Kevin Williamson, known in TV circles for Dawson's Creek and The Following, as well as the Scream franchise, is bringing a pilot to The CW. Director David Nutter will helm a pilot that sees a young woman who seek help from a parapsychologist when she begins to experience paranormal phenomena.
In November 2014, Paramount announced that they had hired Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner to start scripting a television series based on the 1990, Oscar-winning film, Ghost. The original film starred Patrick Swayze as a murdered man who tried to avenge his death from beyond the grave as a ghost, while also romancing his widow. There's been little talk about this one, so it could be stuck in between dimensions in development hell.
The idea for a series based on The Truman Show, the Oscar-nominated 1998 film that explored America’s reality TV craze, came out of Paramount’s desire to mine their film canon for the next big TV hit. Still in it’s very easy stages, a television version of The Truman Show may be just hot air, but it would certainly be intriguing to see the story of a man whose entire life has been manufactured for a worldwide audience fleshed out over several seasons.
William Friedkin, of the Excorist and French Connection fame, directed this action thriller based on the Gerald Petievich novel of the same name. In June 2015, it was reported that WGN America is planning to bring the property back to life with Friedkin on board and Oscar-winner Robert Moresco (Crash) handling the scripts.
Based on the 1985 comedy starring Val Kilmer, NBC is developing a single-camera comedy out of Real Genius. Kilmer played an incredibly smart and suave super genius in the original picture, and NBC has hired Workaholics co-executive producer Craig DiGregorio to develop the premise as a workplace comedy, where a genius must work together with a sheltered, square co-worker. The show has received a script commitment from NBC, so you may be seeing it sooner than later. Read more about it here.
$300 million and six Oscar nominations can't lie. Audiences were enamored with Fatal Attraction, the Michael Douglas/Glenn Close thriller about a man being stalked by lover from his past, so it's no wonder that Mad Men alums Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton are working on the scripts for a potential event series at Fox.
Fox recently announced their plans to develop a multi-camera sitcom about, ““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.” Sounds like a lot of sitcoms, right? Well, inexplicably, the project is being touted as “loosely inspired” by the 2005 Jennifer Lopez vehicle Monster-In-Law.
The show is coming from 30 Rock’s John Riggi and the Carrie Dairies’ Amy B. Harris. We’re not entirely sure why this sitcom with such a basic TV premise needs to be connected to a lackluster, modestly received romantic comedy, but so be it.
Canada’s top children programming producer DHX Media, responsible for kiddie hits such as Yo Gabba Gabba!, Teletubbies, and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, has recently required the rights to adapt Sony Pictures Amination’s Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. DHX will produce and develop the upcoming show, but Sony retains the rights of U.S. distribution. As of the moment, the film’s directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, are not involved with the series.
Plug in the Zoltar machine and dust off your giant piano, Fox is planning something Big. The 1988 classic starring Tom Hanks is coming to television as a half-hour comedy. Loosely based on the film, the project comes from executive producers Kevin Biegel (Cougar Town) and Mike Royce (Men of a Certain Age). Continuing with Fox’s new programming strategy, the untitled project will be an event series, which is code for mini-series or regular series with less episodes.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is hit theaters in 2015, but don’t be fooled by that name, Resident Evil may have many more chapters if German production house Constantin Film has their way. There’s no word yet if a network has interest or whether the series will continue the events of the film, but Constantin is readying a TV adaptation, with more film-to-TV adaptations on their minds, like Perfume and The Mortal Instruments.
The Illusionist was initially overshadowed by Christopher Nolan's magician movie, The Prestige, upon release in 2006, but the movie may have a second chance to connect with audiences. The CW is looking to bring the show to TV, taking a script from True Blood's Mark Hudis about a a 20th-century New York illusionist who, after a recent stint in jail, uses his special tricks to pull off robberies. That's not all -- the heists are all an elaborate plan to get back at the mob boss who framed him and married his wife. It's much different than Edward Norton's role in The Illusionist, but intriguing nonetheless.
This 1967 Oscar-winning Sidney Poitier vehicle already had a life on television, running for seven seasons and spawning four made-for-TV films in the '80s on NBC. But now In the Heat of the Night, based on the John Balls murder mystery novel, is may return to the small screen on Showtime. Tate Taylor (The Help) will be writting and directing the new adaptation.
Not content to let Fox hog all the Tom Hanks inspired properties (BIG), ABC has ordered his 1984 comedy, Bachelor Party, to pilot.
Bachelor Party was a raunchy '80s comedy featuring drugs, sex, Tawny Kitaen, and very little else, but Fox has bigger ambitions with its television adaptation. Tapping New Girl writer-producers J.J. Philbin and Josh Malmuth, Fox plans on Bachelor Party being an anthology series, effectively hitting two TV trends with one stone, following a different wedding party, focusing on the drama that ensues from a co-ed bachelor/bachelorette party, each season.
Animal Practice didn’t work at NBC, but About a Boy did, so the network is going to bank on cinema-inspired sentimentality, animals be damned, with the announcement of a planned pilot for a show based on 2008’s tear-jerker, Marley & Me. The new series will reportedly serve as a sequel to the movie and take place back in Florida, where the film’s main couple, John and Jenny Gorgan, decide to adopt an underappreciated neighborhood pup despite crushingly loosing their last little guy.
Emmy-winning Sex and the City writer Jenny Bicks will pen the script, with the film’s director David Frankel committed to direct the pilot.
NBC will take all of your family-friendly big screen hits, thanks. Once again, the network has ordered a pilot based on an old, fun for the whole family movie, this time inspired by 1990’s John Ritter-led, Problem Child. The original saw Ritter and his wife adopting a redheaded menace who destroys the lives of everyone he touches. Ok, it’s not that dramatic, but still, the kid really is a nuisance.
Awful kids usually work on TV, and NBC has tapped a guy familiar with writing awful man-children, The Hangover and Old Schools’ Scot Armstrong, to develop the single-camera comedy. Last we heard, NBC was still casting the project, though that was over a year ago.
In Good Company was a 2004 Dennis Quaid/Toper Grace/carlett Johansson rom-com, that was openly panned by Grace in his cameo in Ocean’s Eleven. The film actually isn’t as bad as Grace estimates, and CBS seems to think so too.
America’s number one network is developing the movie with original director John Weitz helping sitcom veterans Josh Bycel and Jon Fenner (Happy Endings) pen the script. CBS is planning for the series to be a hybrid of single and multi-camera sitcoms, whatever that means.
Paramount, who have many properties on this list heading to TV, seem to be, excuse my language, whoring their older properties out to TV for more cash. It’s fitting then that the studio is also prepping a TV version of American Gigolo, the 1980 Richard Gere vehicle that saw the actor playing a male escort who gets mixed up with the authorities. “With its signature noir aesthetic, ‘American Gigolo’ has remained a deeply entertaining, psychological thriller,” said the film’s producer Jerry Bruckheimer. “I'm thrilled…on remaking it into a television series.”
Fox can't keep its hands off these movie adaptations. Since October 2014, the network has a Hitch adaptation, based on the 2005 Will Smith romantic comedy, in development. Smith and his wife, Gotham's Jada Pinkett Smith, are executive producing.