Life is good for Richard Linklater. His latest film, twelve year opus Boyhood, has wrapped up its fourth week in circulation, nearly turning out a tidy profit while emerging as one of the best reviewed 2014 pictures to date. Not a bad return on investment, for certain, especially since Linklater will likely be able to ride the wave of its massive critical success until year end. Perhaps that's what spending a decade and change making a movie more or less in secret will get you.
But any filmmaker willing to make a movie on the sly, and in between helming eight other productions to boot, isn't liable to just rest on their laurels, so it stands to reason that Linklater has other projects to busy himself with as Boyhood does the theatrical rounds. Case in point: he'll follow up his grand, mundane tale of childhood and adulthood by teaming with Paramount and Nickelodeon to executive produce on a film-to-television adaptation of his heartfelt, musically driven 2003 comedy, School of Rock.
Quite the leap, to go from a work as ambitious as Boyhood to a serialized version of a Jack Black vehicle, but going from a film of Boyhood's ambition to just about anything would feel like a huge gear shift. The news came in earlier today in the form of a press release issued by Nickelodeon; according to their statement, School of Rock will kick off production in the fall this year, with a planned premiere for its thirteen episode series order in 2015. Currently, Crash and Bernstein scribes Jim and Steve Armogida are set as its showrunners, with Scott Rudin aboard to serve alongside Linklater.
Why bring School of Rock to Nickelodeon (and so long after it came out)? Seems that the story of a hard luck rocker posing as a substitute teacher at an upper tier prep school fits right into Nickelodeon's kid oriented brand. So says the official press release, anyways:
"We are thrilled our first foray into kids programming will be a straight-to-series order with our Viacom partners at Nickelodeon," said Amy Powell, President, Paramount Television. "With Dewey's outrageous personality and rock star sensibilities taking center stage, 'School of Rock' will be an irresistibly fun show for the whole family."
"'School of Rock' is one of those great movies that always felt quintessentially Nickelodeon in its tone and humor, and we jumped at the opportunity to partner with Paramount Television and bring it to life as a TV series," said Russell Hicks, President, Content and Development, Nickelodeon. "Once again, kids will be able to laugh and rock!"
Shrewd reasoning. It's pretty easy to imagine what a Nickelodeon backed TV series about sneaking rock and roll into a prestigious secondary education curriculum might look like; it's maybe harder to see how a channel with a slogan like "putting kids first" could reasonably make a School of Rock series that's about Dewey Finn, arguably one of the all time great fictional movie teachers, more than the kids he teaches, but something about the character nonetheless feels weirdly right at home in Nickelodeon's line up.
In any other circumstance where a well received film is reacquired for television, there may be a question or two raised about remaining faithful to the source. Not necessarily so with School of Rock; Linklater's original film is pretty well aligned toward younger audiences anyways, so even if the show ends up looking quite different from the movie, chances are the former will maintain the same rollicking spirit and sense of humor as the latter. Seems like a reasonable assumption. (Of course, it's worth wondering where, exactly, School of Rock's plot will end up going on the small screen; there's an inevitability to Dewey's deception that, eventually, demands a resolution of one kind or another.)
Nobody is attached to star yet, though it doesn't seem off base to assume that with School of Rock to begin shooting sooner than later that casting announcements will be made before too long. (Maybe now grown up Nick star Miranda Cosgrove can reprise her role from the film at some point, though that's insubstantial wishful thinking even if it feels appropriately Linklaterish.)
School of Rock will air on Nickelodeon in Spring 2015.