‘Sherlock’ Creator Steven Moffat Not Interested in Making a Movie

Published 1 year ago by

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson promo photo Sherlock Creator Steven Moffat Not Interested in Making a Movie

The battle cry for NBC’s Community might be “Six seasons and a movie,” but when it comes to certain shows the line between television and film is already starting to blur. The BBC’s much-loved and long-lived sci-fi drama Doctor Who recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a feature length special that received a limited theatrical release in the US.

Of course, a number of shows have already made the leap from the small screen to the big one: 2009 political comedy In the Loop was a spin-off based on BBC series The Thick of It; Joss Whedon’s sci-fi Western Firefly was cut down after just one season but lived on in Serenity; Star Trek is also a strong leader in this category with 12 films (so far) based on the show, including J.J. Abrams’ two titles in the rebooted universe.

Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ modern detective show Sherlock straddles an interesting line between television and film, with each of its six episodes so far boasting a 90-minute running time (unless you live in the US, where PBS cut eight minutes from each episode of season 2).

Since each episode of Sherlock is effectively a feature film produced on a conservative budget and production schedule, it’s perhaps no surprise that Moffat seemed disinterested when asked by The Mirror if he would ever make a Sherlock movie:

“Well we do make films, we make three every eighteen months. I don’t know, there would have to be a significant reason why you’d do it. Films, for some reason, take much longer to make so you would be reducing the amount of ‘Sherlock’ you’re getting. If there was a really good reason to say why this story needs to be told in that way, then yes. Otherwise, I don’t think there’s anything about cinema that outranks television these days, and I don’t think anyone thinks that way. After all, I can say that proudly because the ‘Doctor Who’ 50th was no. 2 in the American box office with only limited distribution.”

Sherlock restaurant scene Sherlock Creator Steven Moffat Not Interested in Making a Movie

Moffat’s sentiments certainly fit with an opinion that’s become particularly widespread this year, as TV screens have shone with the likes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Television is now at the very least as respected as film, and might even be considered to have surpassed it in some respects.

As Moffat points out, Sherlock‘s status as a TV show instead of a movie franchise hasn’t held it back from success.

“The response was huge. It sort of instantly became a sort of national institution and Benedict [Cumberbatch] went from being that bloke with the funny name – who people looked blank about when we mentioned him – he went from that to [being a] star more quickly than anything I have ever witnessed.”

The fact that Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch are both now major stars is another reason why Sherlock is perhaps best kept as a TV show rather than a film, because the actors do not have unlimited availability to the BBC. Indeed, between Cumberbatch’s commitment to Star Trek Into Darkness and both actors’ involvement in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, it has taken two years to get just three more episodes of Sherlock made. Perhaps given the success of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special in theaters, however, we might start seeing more major TV shows get theatrical screenings as well.

Before Sherlock returns in the New Year, a prequel mini-episode called “Many Happy Returns,” about a character who believes (rightly) that Sherlock faked his death, is set for release on Christmas Day, through the BBC’s red button service and potentially some other outlets. No clues yet as to who this person might be (John, as the recent trailer demonstrated, eventually decided to accept Sherlock’s death and move on), but it could be Scotland Yard forensics expert Anderson, who was shown in a teaser to be hanging out with a group of Sherlock Holmes fans looking decidedly unkempt.


Sherlock will return January 1, 2014 on BBC and January 19, 2014 on PBS.

Source: The Mirror, BBC

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
TAGS: Sherlock
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  1. Oh my god yes!

  2. I didn’t know about the mini-episode, I’m excited!

    • YES NEITEHR DID I !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I agree with Moffat’s comments. I’d rather have three movie-length episodes of amazing Sherlock goodness every two years than one actual movie of Sherlock goodness (with maybe just a couple more locations and a few fancier stunts) every two years.

    There’s certainly the appeal for movies for a number of TV shows out there, but I just don’t see anywhere close to that same appeal, or need, for a Sherlock movie. Especially not when it would end up being done very much at the expense of more actual episodes.

  4. BRAVO! Keep good TV on TV. Don’t make the Star Trek mistake taking something great from TV to make it something mediocre on film.

  5. Each episode of Sherlock is already basically a movie with a 90 minute runtime

  6. The audience reaction from the pre-screeening of the first episode of S3 was amazing though; according to many of the audience and press, it’s a spectacular communal viewing experience that the BBC should arrange a limited cinema release of Sherlock in the future, like the Doctor Who 50th treatment.

    Personally I’d like to see Sherlock films on the big screen, the leads have gravitas and charisma and are proven to be very skillful and classy in terms of doing press for big movies, and its storytelling is one of the best I’ve see on TV or in films in years, plus Sherlock has a strong international fanbase, particularly in some European and Asian countries, ex., Russia and China. It does have the potential, but I suspect the BBC drama department doesn’t have a strong ambition to expand its scale this way, after all, it’s already an international smash hit, even with moderate production budgets and minimum global promotions, and more importantly, if they consider to do so, they’d probably have to share the creative control with other financiers, as the BBC doesn’t have the Hollywood studio scale of budgets, and this is probably the real reason that Moffat is not very interested in turning Sherlock from a TV show to a “film franchise”.

  7. I’d rather it be kept as a TV show.
    Besides a bigger budget, a few effects and maybe a bigger scale what could a movie offer that we don’t already get?
    The episodes are already amazingly acted, well directed and written. They are already feature length and with recent success have movie stars cast on the show.
    And like the point that has been made we get more. Between the time the show first started airing and by the time this season finishes we will have 9 90 minute episodes. If these were films it would take 18 years at the least before we saw 9 films.

  8. We already have great Sherlock Holmes movies with RDJ and Jude Law so it’d be best to keep this version as a TV-only thing.