Fans of cult-classic cinema have been raving for years about the 2000 Japanese film Battle Royale, which has seen something of a resurgence in the cult-culture zeitgeist – thanks to its many parallels with The Hunger Games. In fact, when Katniss Everdeen was making her way to the big screen, there was a very vocal contingent of movie fans who felt that Suzanne Collins’ novel-turned-blockbuster was a ‘watered down version’ of author Koushun Takami and director Kinji Fukasaku’s gripping action/thriller, which has never gotten a serious run in U.S. theaters (either as a remake or in its original form).
Well, Battle Royale may have never been big on the silver screen in America, but the property could get a major debut on U.S. television – on the CW, no less. Read on for more about the possible Battle Royale TV show that is currently being discussed.
The LA Times is dropping the exclusive that the CW is talking behind the scenes with the Hollywood reps attached to Battle Royale about launching an English-language TV series version of the property. Right now, everything is reportedly happening in hush-hush, closed door fashion – but the plan is to take the source novel that was written by Koushun Takami and develop it into an hour-long “dramatic series.”
Battle Royale tells the story of a future in which the Japanese government has collapsed and the youth have become disenfranchised and hostile. A disgruntled ex-teacher working for the government kidnaps a class of ninth graders and deposits them on an island to wage war against one another in a battle to the death. The students are fitted with explosive collars, while a variety of weapons are distributed across the battlefield, video game-style. If the students don’t kill each other off in an allotted amount of time, the explosives in their collars will detonate, killing them all.
Clearly, the parallels to the Hunger Games series (which was first published eight years after Battle Royale’s release) are obvious – so obvious, in fact, that there is pretty much no way for a feature film – remake or re-release of the original – to effectively be given the green light by Hollywood. But a TV series could have a better chance (LA Times sights the success of The Vampire Diaries despite the Twilight phenomenon as one example).
However, Battle Royale was pretty much a self-contained story with a very clear expiration date – i.e., when the teenage characters start dying off left and right. While the story could still work as a high-concept limited series (one in which the relationships between the characters and the minute-to-minute challenges they face are examined in great detail, Breaking Bad style), as a network show – about kids killing kids – seems like a much trickier proposition. The original film never got a major U.S. push in part because it happened to be released in Japan around the time of the Columbine high school massacre; the subject of student-on-student violence has remained controversial ever since, with later tragedies (like the Virginia Tech massacre) making the prospect of introducing Battle Royale to U.S. audiences all but impossible. Needless to say: The CW would either be taking a big risk airing such a show, or would have to soften the material to the point where die-hard fans would likely decry the show’s very existence. It’s hard to see any other middle ground.
Battle Royale did spawn a 2003 sequel (Battle Royale II); while not as tight in construction and thrilling as the original, it did offer some plot developments that could conceivably be mined for additional seasons of a TV show. That is to say: the finite nature of the original film’s narrative is not exactly a deal-breaking factor, here. In the same way that Lost managed to change its own formula in later seasons (flashbacks to flash-forwards to flash-sideways), a Battle Royale show could find a way to keep the kill party going.
Right now, securing Koushun Takami’s approval is said to be the keystone element to this entire deal. The CW will likely have to have a solid plan already in place, if they hope to get it.
We’ll keep you updated as this Battle Royale TV show situation develops.
Source: LA Times