TV remakes of successful films continue to pour into the primetime line-up, with this fall featuring new series reboots of The Exorcist, Lethal Weapon, and Frequency. Training Day will premiere mid-season. Despite short-lived previous efforts like Minority Report, Limitless, and Rush Hour, networks still seem interested in investing in known properties.
The classic 1969 British film Italian Job has already been subject to a big screen remake. The quirky heist film starring Michael Caine, boasting oft-quotable lines like “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”, inspired a 2003 action flick of the same name, starring Mark Wahlberg as a thief and Charlize Theron as a safe-cracker. While not quite as iconic as the original, the more recent remake grossed a respectable $176 million on a $60 million budget.
Now Paramount TV, the small screen offshoot of the movie studio that owns both films, is hoping to have a hit with a series remake on NBC. Deadline reports that Paramount currently has a script commitment for the show which, as described in the official synopsis, centers on the same character played by both Caine and Wahlberg on the big screen.
“A noisy, sexy, thrill-ride that follows a make-shift family of expert criminals, who are forced out of retirement when an opportunity arises to get their beloved ‘patriarch’ out of jail. At the core of this dysfunctional family is Charlie Croker, a handsome and charming ex-con, who tried to go straight, but like the rest of his crew, can’t resist the adrenaline rush of the high-stakes heist world.”
The intent is for a series on a grand scale, including all the action and international locales of the films. That idea is boosted by the names attached so far, with 2003’s Italian Job producer Donald De Line on board, as well as writer/executive producers Rob Weiss (HBO’s Entourage, Ballers) and Benjamin Brand (IFC’s Bollywood Hero). This sounds like an expensive show, which means it will have to perform very well in the ratings if it hopes to stay on the schedule.
It seems fruitless to gripe about remakes at this point, since it appears there’s no stopping them. A heist drama by any name isn’t a bad idea for a TV series, and it would be fun to see if they can manage a quality Mini Cooper race through the piazza on the small screen. Hopefully the stories will capitalize on the humor and carry one heist plan through several episodes or even an entire season. Much of the joy in these types of plots is the complexity of the preparations and the suspense of whether it will ever work. Ramping the action up too early and often could eventually saddle Italian Job with increasingly over-the-top scenarios that eventually wear out viewers’ suspension of disbelief.
We’ll keep you updated on The Italian Job TV series as more information becomes available.