Films That Should Become Television Shows

Photo Credit: Jay Maidment

It’s a fairly regular occurrence that networks and studios simply recycle and repurpose stories we’ve already seen on screen. In a world of sequels, prequels, spin-offs, pop-ups, re-imaginings, and reinvigorations, anything the least bit original when it comes to storytelling is rare. Still, we can’t pretend that certain visions and versions of familiar tales aren’t exciting when done right.

Disney is undergoing a plan of remaking many of their classic animated tales into live-action films, and so far, they’ve been mostly impressive (Cinderella and The Jungle Book, yes; Maleficent — oh my, no). We’ve some X-Men and Spiderman movies that have been good, and some not so much. Some literature translates well on screen (Gone Girl), and some far less so (Inferno). You get the idea.

As we’ve argued here before, though, remakes and sequels aren’t necessarily bad if you bring talent and a specific vision to the project. It’s less about the story and more about the storytellers. That’s why one can make sequels and spinoffs that are great and compelling, and others can make something that’s terrible.

One particular trend finds networks serializing movies. Lethal Weapon, Minority Report, and Training Day are shows made from great movies, but they haven’t quite found the audience. That doesn’t mean it’s a fruitless endeavor to try and make the leap. You just need to pick the right story, and here are those we believe could work.

John Wick

This 2014 action thriller was a revelation. It was a taut, stylish, and self-aware film that showed how beautiful action and killing could be when directed by a pair of savvy stunt coordinators. Following a retired assassin on a quest for revenge, John Wick revealed a carefully constructed world where mercenaries navigate with rules and professionalism. 

Enter The Continental, the hotel and base for what could be a terrific series. The Continental is the hotel and lounge of choice for killers as they network, liaise, and in some cases, start drama. It’s a world with its own currency and services, and a series that maintains the look and feel of the film would be captivating. Sure, we have a sequel coming out, and perhaps that’s half as good as the original. But a TV show could be something special, too. It also could easily reset with an entirely new cast, though Lance Reddick really should stay.

Mad Max

In what is surprising news to no one, the success of Mad Max: Fury Road has put a sequel quickly into works. Presumably the movie franchise can now do what it wants, and we don’t have to wait some ten years or so for script and story approval. The Wasteland comes soon, and while the films are certainly buoyed by incredibly practical and special effects, this world is one that would be curiously explored on the small(er) screen. Really, any dystopian future should be navigated on television (The Bad Batch hasn’t had a wide release yet, but it’s ripe for a TV series as well). There are myriad stories to be told in this future, and if done well, this show could be incredibly engrossing. Failing that, I would tune in for a Waterworld televised reboot, because — well, why not? 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

This recent release by Tim Burton had a familiar feel for his fans, but didn’t quite get the attention it wanted. It feels as though it exists in a similar world as Lemony Snicket’s, which after a mediocre film adaptation some years back, found a home on Netflix recently. Based on a book, this story is sort of a more curious and less violent version of X-Men, where youngsters with special powers convene to learn, hone, and cope and maybe protect the world from total destruction. A series would allow for more character exploration, more whimsy and wonder, and plenty of problems. And there is no reason it can’t take a slightly darker tone, and what with Penny Dreadful goneEva Green can assume her film role and occupy a more eerie space.

Clash of the Titans

While HBO has Westworld, which will hopefully help fill a bit of the void after Game of Thrones goes off the air, the network is best equipped with the means and capabilities of making something grand in scope and scale. Enter Clash of the Titans, which as a premise offers unlimited stories as a TV series, not to mention all that which we desire from an epic HBO program.  In no particular order, a series about Greek mythology offers plenty of sex and nudity, monsters big and small, lots of special effects, and a seemingly endless stream of characters and stories. There really needs to be a show that takes place around Mt. Olympus. Think of the love, betrayal, incest, and death that would follow. And hydras  they’re great.

The East

This 2013 indie thriller never saw a large release, but was fairly well received, depending on how you viewed the main characters. A familiar tale of a spy infiltrating a passionate group only to fall in love with their beliefs (and the charismatic leader), The East features a bunch of off-the-grid, counterculture people who take to illegal, sometimes violent acts to push their agenda. The anarchists attack large corporations, taking up vigilante justice against the greedy, corrupt, and selfish. A series would allow more characters to evolve, and larger, more arching cases to tackle. Given the climate of today’s politics, a show featuring these anti-heroes might just find an audience.

Jurassic Park

Really, I just want to combine my favorite movie with my favorite writer. Let’s take the beginning of Jurassic World but get rid of all the stuff where the park fails. I want a workplace drama written by Aaron Sorkin. All the dinosaur stuff just takes place in the background, like all of Sorkin’s other behind-the-scenes shows such as Sports Night, West Wing, and The Newsroom. I’m sure one or two creatures will break free in the season finale, but this pairing just seems so juicy. Let’s make this happen.

Anthony Marcusa
Anthony Marcusa is a Toronto-based freelance journalist whose writing dabbles in film, TV, music, sports, and relationships – though not necessarily in that order. He’s simultaneously youthfully idealistic and curmudgeonly cynical. But he’s always curious.