Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1163: Pros & Cons: Movie To TV & TV to Movie!

Today is all about remakes, one is a movie being made into a TV show, and the other is a TV show being made into a movie.

So let's take a look…


Back in the 1970s author, screenwriter and director Michael Crichton made Westworld, a science fiction thriller about an amusement park populated by human looking robots that go batshit and kill all but one of the tourists.

The film was a modest success for MGM, became a bit of a cult film through reruns on TV, and spawned a sequel Futureworld, and a short lived TV flop Beyond Westworld, where the robots expanded their plans from simple slaughter to world domination.

Well now Westworld is coming back, as a TV series for HBO, from JJ Abrams Bad Robot Productions and Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy Nolan, and will star Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood.

Let's look at the PROS & CONS!!


1. NOLAN & CO.:  Jonathan Nolan, brother and frequent collaborator of director Christopher Nolan, is the creator/showrunner of Person of Interest. On the surface Person of Interest is a crime procedural with a sci-fi twist and a dash of paranoia. It's about an ex-CIA agent and a billionaire fugitive computer genius who tackle crimes they are alerted to by a vast and powerful AI known only as The Machine.

Beneath that surface it's an in depth study not only of its damaged characters struggling to do right in a world that often doesn't appreciate their efforts because it often involves doing wrong. It's also an extremely intelligent handling of the subject of the creation of artificial intelligence, how it would affect society, and the importance of ethical and moral thinking.

Nolan is also a master of the "arc" style of TV storytelling. POI will present a mystery or a problem whose solution isn't readily apparent, plant clues throughout the run, then put all those clues together in a satisfactory conclusion, and move on to another story arc that had been seeded during the previous arc. It's a masterpiece of long-form episodic-TV story-telling.

So I have some pretty good expectations on the story front.

2. CAST: Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins has signed on to play the lead as the head of the resort who sees his pleasure island as a means to forwarding his groundbreaking research, and Evan Rachel Wood is playing an android who gains self-awareness and changes everything for good or ill.


1. JJ ABRAMS: While Nolan seems to have mastered the long-form episodic TV epic, Abrams almost killed it through the other shows produced under the Bad Robot banner. Just about every show he produced were built around mysteries, and after the end of Lost, audiences soon realized that outside of Person of Interest they didn't know the answers to the mysteries they were asking the audience to watch. It's why POI is the only Bad Robot produced show currently left on the air.

2. HBO: I'm not talking about how it's a pay-cable service that I can't afford to get, or how it will hype flops like Girls, as if it was a blockbuster because it gets the execs invites to New York's better dinner parties, I'm going to talk about indulgence.

As a pay-TV network HBO is not subject to FCC regulations when it comes to sex, violence, or offensive language.

And that's the problem.

Too many times HBO does things because they can do them, without thinking over whether or not they should do them.

I figure the conversations between HBO Execs and Showrunners go something like this:
HBO BOSS: You're show is getting lots of viewers and attracting new subscribers with every episode. 
SHOWRUNNER: That's great. 
HBO BOSS: Toss in more tits, and some rape scenes, lots of rape scenes. 
SHOWRUNNER: We're a family sitcom… 
HBO BOSS: Then it's gonna need some incest. 

Let's hope that someone senior at HBO clues in that they don't have to go too far just because they can.


Will Ferrell and frequent collaborator Adam McKay are collaborating with Sony Animation on a feature film based on the 80s TV show Manimal.

If you don't remember Manimal, it was a short lived series on NBC starring British actor Simon McCorkindale as a rich handsome doctor who can shape-shift into animal he wanted, without losing or ripping his clothing.

Here's the opening for the show, which explained the premise every damn time…

Now let's look at the PROS & CONS!


I'm stumped.

No wait, I've got one…

The studio probably already owns the rights…?

No, still stumped.


1. STAR:  Will Ferrell has a lot of fans in Hollywood.

Not so much outside of Hollywood though.

His box office peaked with Elf, and outside of lending his voice to animated films, his movies tend to cost more and earn less as time goes by. Fans will point to Anchorman 2 making $127 million on a $50 million budget as a sign that he's back, but I beg to differ.

So much was spent relentlessly hyping Anchorman 2, I'm pretty sure it exceeded the production budget, and that in the end, the film lost money. If they have to make everyone sick of the sight of him just to hit $127 million, that's a losing proposition.

2. ANIMATION?: The big selling point of the original Manimal was that it was a live action show that would have multiple live action transformations of its star into various animals and how complex and freaky those special effects would be.

Since the deal is with Sony Animation, I assume, at risk of making an ass of you and me, that the movie version will be animated. If it is animated, then the transformations won't be all that impressive.

3. THE SOURCE MATERIAL: The practical special effects of the original Manimal were a big selling point.

But the series didn't sell.

It tanked.

It flopped.


Those who remember it, remember it for being a cheesy flop that probably badly hurt its lead's career, and almost crippled the network that aired it.

Would you want to risk $50-$120 million on a property most closely associated with creative and financial failure with a lead whose appeal is iffy at best?

That's what I think, let me know what you think in the comments.


  1. It will be interesting to see if Ferrell's film is better than Adam Sandler's Supertrain. And hey, look how much money his Land of the Lost movie made.

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