If there is one thing that people from different generations enjoy doing, it is arguing. Generations argue over who grew up during the golden age of baseball. Whether Michael Jordan is better than Lebron (he is). Whether it is better to have dance fever, or just be a belieber. Another hot topic you may argue over with your parents, grandparents, or children, is: when was the golden age of television? But one thing that cannot be argued, is that there has never been more television content available for consumption. Whether the content is better now or then, we’ll leave that up to debate.
The television medium has grown. Never before has the consumer had so many options when it comes to what they want to watch. In fact, you can almost watch an infinite amount of shows simultaneously on an infinite amount of devices. With the growth of cable and streaming services, not only has the amount of content increased, but so has their production quality and ability to push the limits.
Television allows for stories to be told in greater depth than movies ever could. Think about this. Could you imagine Game of Thrones as a movie? Or even six movies? So much of the narrative would be lost or condensed. Side stories would be forgotten; battles shortened. How about The Walking Dead? Thankfully, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead were adapted to television, so we get a thoroughly detailed and enjoyable (and sometimes painful) story every week. What about other stories that chose film as their medium? Which ones would be just a bit more satisfying as a television series? Check out these 12 Movies That Would Be Better as a TV Series and find out.
In 2008, James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie starred in Timur Bekmambetov’s adaptation of Mark Millar’s Wanted. The film was largely a financial and critical success. With a 72% score on Rotten tomatoes and over $300 million in global box office receipts, it would be hard to call this movie a failure by any definition. However, that does not mean it could not be better as a TV series.
The film, which was loosely based on Millar’s comic, is about a group of assassins, and the guy who finds out that he was born one of them. The premise is cool, and so are the visuals – bending a bullet for instance. But just imagine this as a television show. An hour every week of bullet bending, butt kicking, assassin fun. The show could follow a procedural villain of the week formula, or a serialized format, which seems to be the popular trend these days. Either way, there would be room for additional stories and more insane visuals. Wanted would fit like a glove on a basic cable network like FX.
11. Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider is a Marvel Comics property perhaps widely known for two mildly successful but critically panned films starring Nicolas Cage. This is a prime example of a character who is better suited to television. In an effort to appeal to the masses, the movies went for humor and campy dialogue, when they should have gone for dark grit. We’re talking about a daredevil who sells his soul to save a friend, and then is forced to punish evil while his skull is covered in flames. This should be awesome.
Ghost Rider would make an excellent addition to Netflix’s current slate of Marvel properties. The medium has allowed Marvel to create engaging content with stories that extend entire seasons. The two series released so far, Daredevil and Jessica Jones were largely beloved, and part of the reason is no doubt the character and story development that can only be done on TV. We are given time to love the heroes, hate the villains, and understand the world they occupy.
Johnny Blaze, or any incarnation of Ghost Rider, would almost certainly improve on a streaming service like Netflix. And since the rights have reverted back to Marvel, hopefully we will see this soon.
In 2001, Johnny Depp starred in the moderately successful film Blow. The movie chronicled the life of George Jung (played by Depp) and his work as a drug smuggler for the Medellin Cartel. Reviews for the film were mixed, though it has an 87% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. With some creative liberties and the right storytellers, the story of George Jung would make for great television.
The logline would be simple: exploits of a cocaine smuggler. There would also be so many different ways to adapt this to television. It could take a more serious path, like a Narcos meets Breaking Bad. Or, perhaps just as satisfying, it could take a dark humor approach, in the same vein as Weeds or Shameless.
Let’s face it, we like to watch shows about bad guys. Dexter Morgan (Dexter), Walter White (Breaking Bad), and Nancy Botwin (Weeds) are just some of the largely criminal protagonists of recent successful shows. Adding George Jung to the list would make for weekly viewing, and would fit in nicely on Showtime.
9. Jupiter Ascending
If there is one thing the Wachowskis do better than most, it’s creating incredible worlds. They are the minds behind The Matrix, Cloud Atlas, and the critically acclaimed Netflix series, Sense8. For the most part, The Wachowski’s have created revered works of art. Their latest outing, however, missed the mark. Jupiter Ascending, starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, was a box office flop and critical disaster. There were even reports that people walked out of its secret screening at Sundance.
Jupiter Ascending could have been better, just not as a movie. There was a vast universe to explore, but shaky pacing and overblown action sequences left little time for discovery. Broadly, the movie is about corporations who own planets and use the planet’s resources (the people) as a commodity. The premise could work. As a movie it is muddled, but as a television series, there would be time to flesh out the characters, the corporations, and the various planets.
The Wachowskis are more than capable of amazing storytelling, and character development. Give them a few ten episode seasons, and Jupiter Ascending could be a world we want to revisit each and every week – or binge all at once.
Probably most of you know that in 2009 Zack Snyder adapted what some believe is the greatest graphic novel of all time: Watchmen, written by Alan Moore. The film was given largely mixed reviews by the critics, but was more embraced by fans of the comic. However, the film did not meet box office expectations, and has been viewed by many as a missed opportunity.
One of the issues with the film was its long run time; it clocked in at 163 minutes. Two more cuts of the film have been released, a Director’s Cut and an Ultimate Cut, the latter has a total run time of 215 minutes. The Ultimate Cut alone is almost long enough for a five episode limited series.
While Zack Snyder was praised by many fans for faithfully adapting the comic, by keeping a dark and gritty style, film does not have as much patience for drawn out storytelling as television. Theaters want to cram as many showings into the day as possible, which leads to shorter cuts of films. As a television series, Watchmen would have the leeway and time it needs to faithfully adapt Moore’s comic and perhaps even further flesh out some of the characters we love.
There have been reports that HBO may be in negotiations to create a Watchmen series, and we certainly hope that is true.
7. Men in Black
Men in Black can hardly be called a failed movie franchise. The films, which are loosely based off of the Aircel Comic (now Marvel) of the same name, have grossed over $1.7 billion worldwide on a total budget of less than half a billion. However, with the exception of the first movie, which holds a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score, response to the films have been mixed.
While the Men in Black film franchise is known for its extraterrestrial villains and comedic elements, the comic it was based off of was actually much darker than the films. Television would provide the perfect medium to tell that darker story. The universe of The Men in Black is actually quite vast, and there would be many stories to tell. Unlike the movies which focus exclusively on alien life, the comic also deals with demons, mutants, zombies, werewolves, and other supernatural and paranormal beings.
The Men in Black would make a great addition to Netflix or HBO, or could even join The Walking Dead on AMC. To be the successful dark comedy it could be, The Men in Black should stay off of network television.
6. The Last Samurai
In 2003, Tom Cruise portrayed a Civil War veteran taken captive by samurai in Japan, in The Last Samurai. This may be one of the more surprising entries on the list. Let’s face it, this wasn’t adapted from a comic or a book, it wasn’t overly long for an epic, and it was a success. The film was given mostly positive reviews, and grossed over $400 million at the worldwide box office – no small feat in 2003. It was also nominated for four Academy Awards, including a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Ken Watanabe.
So why would such a successful film be better suited for television? The simple answer is story. A television series would be able to deeply dive into the westernization of Japan, which could only be glossed over in the film, and the resulting conflict. There are also four groups of characters that play large roles in the film, the American military, the samurai, the Japanese Imperial Army, and the Empire of Japan, providing plenty of room for character driven storylines.
The Last Samurai has all the makings of an epic historical television series. The Satsuma Rebellion, which inspired the story, is rich with conflict and epic battles. The Last Samurai would fit in perfectly on HBO as a thrilling period drama we can’t wait to watch each week.
It’s hard to say film hasn’t provided the opportunity to tell many Underworld stories. The fact is, four Underworld movies have already been released, and there are two more on the way. There are clearly hours of Underworld storylines to tell. While the films have been moderately successful at the box office, they have been largely dismissed by critics.
As a television show, Underworld could appeal to its loyal fan base, without the pressures of raking in nine figures at the box office. There are also characters a plenty, which is necessary for a successful long running television show. With the Lycans, Vampires, and members of House Corvinus, this could be a juicy, character driven, action-horror series.
Underworld could fit on The CW with other vampire based shows, or could appeal to a grittier audience on basic cable. Either way, Underworld could be explored in greater depth on television than it could in a single movie (or perhaps even four), and would no doubt be an improvement over the films.
4. 47 Ronin
By almost all accounts, the 2013 film, 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves, was a failure. Worldwide it grossed a little more than $150 million on a budget of over $175 million. Critically, it did not fare much better, garnering just a 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. So it is pretty fair to say that anything would be an improvement on the movie – whether it be another movie or a television series.
But this list is about TV shows, so why would 47 Ronin be better as a television series, other than that it couldn’t get much worse? The film is loosely based on Chūshingura, which is the title given to fictional accounts of the Forty-seven Ronin in Japanese literature, theater, and film. Broadly, the story tells the tale of forty-seven ronin (masterless samurai) who seek to avenge the death of their master. The history of the samurai and their master, as well as the samurai code, would make for a complex dramatic series.
Dredd was released in 2012 and starred Karl Urban as Judge Dredd. The film, though unrelated to the 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone, was based on the 2000 A.D. comic strip about the street judge, Judge Dredd, who was empowered with arresting, convicting, and executing criminals.
The film was’t bad, and was predominately seen as an improvement on the Stallone version. However, despite a solid Rotten Tomatoes score, the film went largely unnoticed at the box office, earning just over $40 million worldwide. With storylines dating back to Judge Dredd’s first appearance in 1977, there is a wealth of material to adapt to the small screen.
While the Judge Dredd films have not been embraced by the masses in theater, there would be less pressure as a television show, and could develop a loyal fan base who are interested in seeing the Judge’s exploits in a dystopian future.
While it is a bit too early to tell how fans of the video game franchise will respond to the movie, Warcraft is garnering mostly negative reviews from the critics. With a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes (as of this writing) there is unlikely to be much desire for the casual fan to see the movie. Sure, the die-hards will show up, but that’s not really enough anymore for a film with an estimated budget of $160 million.
It does not look like this Warcraft movie is going to be rivaling Lord of the Rings, but that’s not to say there aren’t just as many fascinating stories in the Warcraft universe. There are so many races, factions, characters, and locations, that it could take years to explore them all. And in fact, it has. The Warcraft games date back to 1994 with the release of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans.
With a universe so large, there is really only one medium that could do it justice – television. Warcraft could do very well on a streaming service, but would also make a great flagship program on a premium channel like Starz, looking to the success of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
1. Ender’s Game
If you had to think hard about your favorite book, many of you would land on Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. The 1985 military science fiction novel has been a staple on both military and high school reading lists. And for good reason. The novel, which tells the story of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, who is a student at the International Fleet’s Battle School, was finally adapted to film in 2013. Mixed reviews and an underwhelming performance at the box office made it a big missed opportunity.
While not a particularly long book – it is just 384 pages – Ender’s Game would still work very well on television. The book takes place over several years, but the film condenses this to several months. As a TV series, passage of time could be more faithfully adapted and the actors could age naturally with the show. There are also sequel novels such as Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, and Ender in Exile which provide enough story to keep the show on the air for several years.
Whether we are in the golden age of television or not, there has never been more quality TV for us to watch. As the medium continues to grow, we will see more and more storytellers choosing television over film. Which movies do you wish were made as TV shows or hope they still are? Let us know in the comments!