It’s one of the most enduring and bizarre cult movies of all time. For years, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension served both as a touchstone and a rite of passage for nerd and geek culture, its legacy living on in the realm of bootleg copies passed down like ancient scrolls; its wisdom kept secret unless you knew where to look and for whom to ask. Now considered a classic of science-fiction comedy, its acclaim as grown since the era of DVDs, thrusting the once obscure gem into the forefront of the collective consciousness of cinephiles everywhere.
The tale of the titular rock-and-roll playing brain surgeon warrior boasts some pretty strong star power by today’s standards. Peter Weller (Star Trek Into Darkness), John Lithgow (Interstellar), and Jeff Goldblum (Independence Day: Resurgence) all had pre-superstar roles in the film; even everyone’s favorite bad-cop-turned-enforcer Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul) had a small role. Its cast is part of the reason for Buckaroo Banzai’s enduring impact, though the campy silliness and earnestness of the film’s wild narrative plays no small part either. That the film continues to grow in popularity is part of the reason that Kevin Smith (Yoga Hosers) wants to develop the movie into a TV series - and now it seems he may have found its home.
Deadline is reporting that Smith and Amazon are close to inking a deal on the project, a move that would further legitimize Amazon’s stake in the streaming game while also help Smith transition further into the world of television. While nothing is yet set in stone, Smith may have something to say about it in his Hall H appearance this weekend at Comic-Con.
The first season is said to follow the narrative of the movie in season one before moving off into original stories in later seasons. That’s not exactly unprecedented these days when a property makes the jump from movies to TV. From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series followed this formula, using its first season as a way to retell the arc of the movie while introducing new concepts to the mythos to be explored later on. From the sound of things, fans of Buckaroo Banzai could expect the series to play out in a similar manner.
Smith has become increasingly interested in throwing his hat into the television game in recent months. The director helmed an episode of The Flash earlier this year and has said that he would like to return to direct other episodes in the future. Additionally, the sequel to Mallrats is said to have evolved into a full-on television series which may find its way to a streaming service in the coming year or two.
The move to television makes sense for the director; while Smith does have his ardent fan base, his recent cinematic efforts have failed to make the same splash as his films from the '90s, and Smith has hinted at his distaste for the movie industry numerous times over the last few years. Given the rise of traditionally nerdy properties—where Smith has always buttered his bread—into the mainstream, it wouldn’t be a hard transition for the director to make, and would allow him to curate the kinds of stories he loves to tell without being beholden to the standards of Hollywood.
Still, Buckaroo Banzai is a tricky property. Done right, it could be an amazing example of updating old properties into a new medium for a new generation. But getting it right is the hard part. The movie is so familiar to its base that expectations will be high, and the slightest misstep could spell disaster for fans. That being said, Smith’s reverence is well-known and if anyone is to handle the updated version of the show, you can expect that he’ll be the one to do it and do it right.
In fact, Smith has expressed a desire for the film’s cast to make appearances in the series as a way to both honor their involvement and pass the torch to a new generation. There’s no word yet on if they’ll accept his invitation, but at the very least it does display his commitment to handling the series with propriety.
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