Movies based on TV shows are nothing new in Hollywood. Studios have been capitalizing on the success of long-running television series for decades. Some of the titles they produce are fun romps with familiar characters and others threaten to tarnish the legacy of what has come before. Hollywood hasn’t given up, however, as every year new feature films based on television programs are released, and spoiler alert, even more are on the way.
This list celebrates some of the biggest franchises that are making the leap from our television sets to the big screen in the relatively near future. Not all of the titles on this list were solely television series. Many of the following films are part of a larger franchise complete with previous movies and merchandise, but all of the entries on this list are upcoming pictures that you can expect to see in the coming years and even months.
Here are the 15 Most Anticipated Movies Based On TV Shows.
15. The LEGO Ninjago Movie
Featuring an impressive cast and a wildly entertaining story from the writing and directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller, 2014’s The LEGO Movie served as an absolute surprise hit for moviegoers as well as those inside the industry. The animated feature was such a success, in fact, that it helped launch an entire cinematic universe. The LEGO Batman Movie – a spinoff title which features Will Arnett reprising his role as the caped crusader – will arrive in theaters on February 10, 2017; The LEGO Ninjago Movie slated for release later in the year.
Like its predecessor, The LEGO Ninjago Movie is based on the incredibly successful line of toys from Denmark’s privately held company The LEGO Group. However, LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu has been an animated television series on Cartoon Network (in the United States) since January 2011. Its theatrical counterpart will feature familiar characters such as Kai and Sensei Wu, albeit with different voices – Michael Peña and Jackie Chan respectively. Also rounding out this notable cast are Dave Franco, Fred Armisen, and Olivia Munn among others.
14. My Little Pony
My Little Pony might not seem like one of the year’s most anticipated films at first glance, and while it did not manage to crack our list, there is certainly a demographic or two out there who await this picture with unrivaled eagerness. Still not convinced? Well, this feature-length animated movie does feature quite the impressive cast. Michael Peña will lend his voice talents to yet another picture in 2017 with My Little Pony: The Movie. A handful of notable names joining Peña includes: Emily Blunt, Zoe Saldana, Tara Strong, Liev Schreiber, Kristen Chenoweth, and eight-time Grammy nominated artist Sia.
Perhaps there are a few reasons for more than just young girls and bronies to be excited about this upcoming film after all. The cast alone is more than enough to sell tickets for any other property, and it will likely serve this franchise well. My Little Pony: The Movie will gallop into theaters October 6, 2017.
“Six seasons and a movie” has basically become the unofficial mantra of NBC’s former cult comedy Community. As the brainchild of acclaimed writer and producer Dan Harmon (Rick and Morty), this offbeat sitcom never quite found its footing with mainstream audiences, but the series’ devoted following kept the lights on far longer than initially expected. After a change in venue from network television to Yahoo’s streaming service, Community finally did realize the promise of a sixth season before the doors finally closed on this fan-favorite program in 2015. It has been nearly two years since the series’ finale, leaving fans wondering if and when a Community film will happen.
Aforementioned showrunner Dan Harmon is on record with comments concerning a potential Community movie; simply stating “it’ll happen”. These words certainly serve as a positive sign for fans of the series, however, no official word has been given regarding a potential release date. A vague time period for principal photography has not been offered either. Even more up in the air is the potential cast for the film, as many of the sitcoms original faces have gone on to lead very busy lives since the show concluded. Most notably, Donald Glover departed from the series in the middle of its fifth season in order to pursue his musical career as his hip-hop alter ego Childish Gambino. Mainstays such as Joel McHale, Ken Jeong, Daniel Pudi, Gillian Jacobs, and Jim Rash are all but guaranteed, however.
12. Shaun the Sheep 2
Shaun the Sheep flew a bit under the radar, but still stands as one of 2015’s finest animated films. The British stop-motion animated Wallace and Gromit spinoff did receive recognition from the Academy in the form of a Best Animated Picture nomination, but box office numbers were not nearly as high as other endeavors from the genre in that same year. However, the feature did manage to far surpass its relatively meager budget; so much so, in fact, that a sequel is currently in pre-production.
Little is known about the animated sequel. No story details have been given, and currently, no castings have been announced. That said, it has been reported that the sequel will see one of the original filmmakers return to write the script as well as direct the project. No official date has been given for Shaun the Sheep 2, but various reports peg this stop-motion adventure for a 2018 theatrical release.
11. SpongeBob SquarePants 3
Since the turn of the century, there have arguably been no bigger names in the world of animation than SpongeBob SquarePants. Mickey Mouse and friends still maintain their status as some of the universe’s most iconic and recognizable characters, but since Stephen Hillenburg’s cartoon debuted in 1999, this cast of underwater creatures have made the franchise one of the most successful children’s properties in recent memory.
The cartoon was so successful for Nickelodeon that the show’s creator got the opportunity to direct a feature film based on the series – aptly titled The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie – which featured all of the familiar voices from the television show as well as a handful of big-name newcomers. The film went on to be a great success, both from a critical standpoint as well as monetarily. However, SpongeBob and company did not return to the big screen for another 11 years. In 2015, Paramount Pictures decided to up the ante by increasing the sequel’s budget to almost 150 percent of its predecessor, a move that apparently paid off. Critical reviews were significantly more positive and the box office numbers were way up. If the third entry continues on this same trend, fans might see the most successful SpongeBob film yet – nearly 20 years after the franchise’s inception.
10. Death Note
Okay, so Death Note was a manga a few years before it became an anime, but the two entities have their differences, and it would appear as though both will be an inspiration for the upcoming live-action western adaptation. For those of you who are unaware of the Japanese property, Death Note follows Light Yagami, an extremely bright young adult male after he finds a supernatural notebook with the ability to kill anyone whose name is written in it. After discovering its true power, Light decides to rid the world of evil, one name at a time.
Death Note is one of the most highly regarded modern anime series, but its road to becoming a live-action picture outside of Japan has been rough, to say the least. The picture has been in development hell for years, at one point attached to writer/director Shane Black, but its transition from Warner Bros. to Netflix may have aided in expediting the process. The movie finally began filming last year and is widely believed to arrive on the streaming service later in 2017.
9. Captain Planet
Captain Planet and friends served on an animated environmentalist television series for six seasons back in the ’90s, first as Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and later as its follow-up series The New Adventures of Captain Planet. While both shows live on in syndication today, the franchise has remained relatively dormant since its departure in 1996.
For those of you who have somehow missed this piece of ’90s nostalgia, Captain Planet was a television series aimed at children which served as a form of entertainment and education. The Planeteers had countless thrilling adventures together, but each episode also advocated for environmentalism.
Some of you may know that Leonardo DiCaprio is not only a (now) Academy Award winning actor, but he is also a noted environmentalist. In fact, the acclaimed thespian used his Oscar acceptance speech as an opportunity to talk about climate change. To no one’s surprise, DiCaprio has taken a great interest in this project and is even reported to be producing the film. This picture has been in development hell for a few years now, but with Leo on board, things will likely move much quicker.
8. The Equalizer 2
For nearly 90 episodes in the mid-to-late 1980’s, Edward Woodward starred as Robert McCall, a former covert operations officer, in CBS’s hit American crime drama The Equalizer. The series was equal parts spy thriller, vigilante crime fighter, and police procedural, featuring an impressive list of guest actors from John Goodman to Steve Buscemi, and even Kevin Spacey. However, they were far from the only big names to grace the set alongside Woodward.
In 2010, it was originally reported that Academy Award winner Russell Crowe was signed on to portray Robert McCall in a big-screen adaptation of The Equalizer. The very next year, however, reports pegged Denzel Washington as the film’s lead, and that casting appeared to stick. 2014’s The Equalizer served as a reunion for Denzel and director Antoine Fuqua, the first since the two worked together on the Oscar-winning film Training Day in 2001. The film was a critical and monetary success, paving the way for a direct sequel slated to hit theaters on September 14, 2018.
7. G.I. Joe 3
Not unlike LEGO, G.I. Joe was a toy brand long before any television deal was struck, but the ’80s cartoon did help create a backstory for the characters – along with a Marvel Comics run, of course. For many who grew up in the time period, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was a Saturday morning staple which has gone on to serve as a cult classic of sorts. The successful series even spawned a feature length film of its own. Due to the poor box office performances of both My Little Pony as well as The Transformers: The Movie, however, G.I. Joe opted for the direct-to-video approach.
Even in the midst of production issues and rights changing hands, the series survived for a total 95 episodes over the course of four seasons. Subsequent series came in later years, but as is the case with so many properties, none were quite as iconic as the original.
The franchise saw its first live-action big screen adaptation in the form of 2009’s G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. The movie was not received too well by critics or fans, but it made more than enough money to justify a sequel. Paramount scaled back the budget a bit for the follow-up and managed to add a couple of bigger names such as Bruce Willis, Channing Tatum, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. However, the sequel proved to be more of the same but still managed to turn a profit. A third entry in the franchise may be on hold at the moment, but some exciting news may be on the way as it has recently been reported that Johnson and Paramount have been in talks concerning a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover.
In an attempt to sign onto nearly every major Hollywood franchise, aforementioned movie star, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, looks to lead yet another television series to cinematic glory, Baywatch. With names like Zac Effron, Alexandra Daddario, and Hannibal Buress joining Johnson on this quest to revive the long-running franchise, it would appear to be in good hands. A trailer for the film at the tail end of 2016 featured the stars hitting the beach in hilarious fashion.
While Baywatch (the television series) served as a drama about a handful of good-looking lifeguards who patrolled a local beach, its big screen counterpart looks to be a comedy about… well, a group of good-looking lifeguards who patrol a local beach. The main difference here is that the anticipated film looks to take itself a bit less seriously, aiming to please fans with hot bods and outrageous comedy rather than tender character moments. Just in time for summer, Baywatch looks to arrive in U.S. theaters May 26, 2017.
5. 23 Jump Street
It should come as no surprise that comedy sequels have failed to impress in the past. In fact, some of the most disappointing films in recent memory came in off the tail of an extremely successful comedic predecessor. Zoolander 2 immediately comes to mind. Without beating a dead horse, comedy sequels are generally considered disappointments more often than not. That is precisely why it is so impressive that 22 Jump Street was as successful as it was.
Based on the late ’80s/early ’90s crime drama starring Johnny Depp, 21 Jump Street surprised fans and critics alike as a delightful comedic big-screen adaptation. As previously stated, its successor was more of the same, cementing the directing and writing duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s status as comedic geniuses.
There were reports last year of a potential 21 Jump Street/Men in Black crossover, to the point that The Muppets director James Bobin had reportedly signed on to helm the project. However, the future of this film appears to be unknown as one of the series’ stars, Jonah Hill, has come forth and spoken against the project.
4. M:I 6 – Mission Impossible
Some of you might not be aware that Mission: Impossible was a television series long before Tom Cruise starred as American agent Ethan Hunt. It might have been seen as a risk to adapt a 30-year-old television series into a major Hollywood blockbuster at the time but unlike 2015’s underappreciated Man from U.N.C.L.E., it was a risk that paid off. In fact, Mission: Impossible is a franchise that has (for the most part) improved with each new entry.
The fifth film in the series, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, had the second highest worldwide box office total in the franchise; first place belonging to its immediate predecessor Ghost Protocol. Not only have the last two entries in the series earned the most money, but they have also garnered the best reviews by critics and fans alike. Simply put, Mission: Impossible is one of the hottest franchises currently running, and with another sequel in the works, Tom Cruise and company look to capitalize on its success for years to come.
Little information is known the film’s plot, but filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie is slated to return to direct Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, and, of course, Ethan Hunt himself, Tom Cruise. M:I 6 – Mission Impossible is slated to arrive in U.S. theaters on July 27, 2018.
3. Transformers: The Last Knight
Transformers marks the last entry on this list that was originally based on a successful toy line. Produced by Hasbro and Japanese toy company Takara Tomy, the launch of the Transformers brand was accompanied by comic books and even an animated cartoon series. Following in the footsteps of aforementioned animated series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Transformers garnered undeniable success for years to come. That being said, it was not until decades later that a live-action Transformers movie hit the big screen.
There are few film franchises that are as poorly reviewed and simultaneously monetarily successful as The Transformers series. Relatively speaking, the first of the live-action film adaptations was fairly well-received. Each of the movies in the series since, however, have not fared as well from a critical standpoint.
New writers in the film franchise have stepped up in order to improve the quality of the series looking to make the upcoming entry the finest in the series yet. Transformers: The Last Knight is set to hit theaters July 23, 2017.
2. Star Trek 4
As sad as it may be to say, Star Trek might be better known by youthful moviegoers today as a film franchise rather than a syndicated television series. Still, its long lineage is undeniable for its virtually countless adoring fans. The franchise has seen a half-dozen different television series over the course of its 50 plus year history, with the most recent, Enterprise, being the least successful.
While interest in the television iteration of the franchise has been waning in recent years, its film division is currently experiencing a massive resurgence. The so-called ‘odd/even’ rule used to judge whether or not a Star Trek feature is any good has been put the test in recent years with three well-received entries in a row – Star Trek (2009), Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Star Trek: Beyond respectively.
It would appear as though this rebooted series will see at least one more entry as Chris Hemsworth is reportedly slated to return as James’ (Chris Pine) father George Kirk.
1. Power Rangers
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is one of the ’90s most cherished franchises. This television series about “teenagers with attitude” followed five martial arts-inclined high school students as they defended the galaxy from evil forces sent by the recently awakened Rita Repulsa. The original series was campy, light-hearted fun reminiscent of Adam West’s Batman – but for a new generation. The level of success that the franchise has enjoyed over the past twenty years is unprecedented, to say the least, featuring dozens of seasons, numerous changing of the guards, and hundreds of episodes.
The franchise has licensed countless video games, comic books, toy lines, television series, and even a few films since its inception in the mid-’90s, but the upcoming title looks to be the furthest departure (in terms of tone and style) for the series yet – aside from the James Van Der Beek-starred short that is. A brand new aesthetic, as well as an exciting new trailer, has ’90s kids nostalgically optimistic for this upcoming reboot. Power Rangers (2017) will arrive in U.S. theaters March 24, 2017.
Which of these films are you looking forward to? Make sure to let us know in the comments section!