Arguably two of the most kick-ass characters in movies over the last few years have been Jason Statham's The Transporter and Liam Neeson's Bryan Mills from the movie Taken. If you agree, then you might be interested to know that a TV version of each character's respective movie franchises are on the way.
Deadline is reporting that director Luc Besson's French "movie factory" EuropaCorp is aiming to start shooting The Transporter TV series early next year, with a budget of $48 million for a total of 12 episodes (that's $4 million an episode).
News of this Transporter-based series surfaced back in April but at that time EuropaCorp hadn't signed a deal with any U.S. networks. However, apparently one of the big networks is now on board but it's not been revealed which one - my guess would be Fox, since Twentieth Century Fox handled distribution for The Transporter movies.
The Transporter series will follow in the same direction as Nikita, the new action series which is a reboot/remake of the original franchise first kicked off by the 1990 French-language movie La Femme Nikita. That series just received a full season order from CW (and it's looking like it'll get a second season as well), so I imagine EuropaCorp is hoping The Transporter series will follow suit.
Like The Transporter, the Liam Neeson thriller Taken looks to be making the jump to TV as well. Although plans for a TV version aren't as concrete as they are for The Transporter, EuropaCorp is currently thinking about making the show - but only after Neeson shoots Taken 2 early next year. I guess the studio wants to see if the sequel does as well as the first film at the box office before it commits to making a multi-episode TV series.
There's no mention if either Jason Statham or Liam Neeson will be making the jump to the small screen to star in The Transporter and Taken series, respectively, but it's doubtful. Both shows will likely function similar to the Blade TV series, in that the series will feature the same characters played by different actors.
These two movie franchises becoming TV series are said to be part of EuropaCorp's "push into TV production." On top of these two, the studio also has a TV version of Besson's Arthur and the Invisibles in the works. For a full break down of the plans EuropaCorp have for TV and upcoming movies (and the troubles therein) head over to Deadline.
Admittedly neither The Transporter nor Taken strike me as being suited to TV. They are very over-the-top and cinematic with how they portray action (amongst other things) and needless to say the budgets are a factor. The third Transporter cost $41 million to make which is almost the entire budget The Transporter TV series has; while Taken cost $25 million to make.
Having said that, if they keep the action as kinetic and well-choreographed as it was in both The Transporter franchise and Taken - as well as create a story that can successfully span the length of a TV series - then we should have a couple of shows that are at the very least entertaining.
The Transporter series is set to start shooting early next year with the first episodes to be delivered by November 2011. Taken is just in the idea stage at the moment - we'll have to wait until Taken 2 comes out before we find out if the TV series gets the go-ahead.