Weekend Roundtable: Movie-to-TV Spin-Offs

Network executives love spinning off movies into TV shows. With a popular title comes instant brand recognition. Sometimes this works (‘M*A*S*H’). Often it doesn’t. Two of the most promising shows currently on the air (‘Bates Motel’ and ‘Hannibal’) are spun-off from movies. In this week’s Roundtable, we try to think of some other movie titles that might work in episodic TV form.

Luke Hickman

You may think that I’m joking, but I’m dead serious with my pick. I walked into ‘The Happening‘ with extremely high hopes. The plot had huge potential: A disease is being passed around that, when contracted, causes the host to immediately commit suicide in the fastest way possible. You can’t deny that this is a pretty genius idea. As proven by Master of Failure M. Night Shyamalan, however, putting that idea into action proved to be a difficult task. I’m convinced that his execution was the very worst possible. I’d like to see a strong set of writers and a proven show-runner take this concept to HBO or Showtime. That way, they can make proper use of the graphic scenario – unlike M. Night, who failed to put his first R rating to use. This concept couldn’t be stretched out for long, but I’d pay to explore the idea for a season or two.

Shannon Nutt

I wasn’t as big of fan of the movie as most others, but I could see an ongoing series based on the concepts presented in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception‘. Pick a couple of strong actors for the leads, and then each week they could be assigned to someone new, jumping into their dreams to implant or remove whatever information was needed. It would/could work very much as a procedural show (which TV networks love), but still have enough “mythology” episodes to keep those who love ongoing storylines and character development interested.

Daniel Hirshleifer

While the franchise was run into the ground years ago, there are enough fresh ideas in the first two ‘Hellraiser‘ movies to justify being explored on a premium cable channel like Showtime. You can mix one-off tales of the people who open Lemarchand’s Box with longer multi-episode arcs that focus on the mythology behind the Cenobites. Most episodes wouldn’t require big budgets, allowing a few episodes per season to go bigger with effects. Given how TV has gotten more and more cinematic lately, a TV series could save the ‘Hellraiser’ franchise from the living hell it’s become.

Aaron Peck

I want to go with ‘Cabin in the Woods‘ here. The movie has an entire backstory that can be fleshed out like a horror version of ‘Lost’. We find out how it all started, the years and years of success from the sacrifices. Had there been any other “incidents” before the big world-ending one? Maybe even start decades before the movie, with the Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford characters played by younger actors. They’d still need to have that dry humor, of course. Maybe Jake Johnson and Mark Duplass? (I don’t know, just spit-balling here.) The TV spin-off would certainly have to focus on these two characters, how the faceless company works, and the sickly morbid humor that comes with it. Oh, and it’d have to be on HBO or Showtime so it could have the proper amount of swearing, gore and senseless nudity.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

UHF‘! It’s a movie about TV shows, so why not go all the way with your Ouroboros circular media maelstrom and have a TV show about a movie about TV shows? I’m a lifelong Weird Al fanatic, and it’s a bit of a drag seeing four or five years pass between AL-bums. What better way to pass the time than a weekly TV series propelled by Al’s manic energy, visual inventiveness and brilliant sense of humor? The TV landscape has changed more than a little bit since 1989 (geez, has it really been that long?), so there’s a whole brave new world there for Al to skewer. I’d watch the heck out of it anyway.

Mike Attebery

I don’t think they should keep the premise, but I think there’s a great ‘Bridesmaids‘ spin-off comedy series to be made with Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph reprising their characters from that film. With Paul Feig involved, and perhaps Lorne Michaels producing (since he seems to have a piece of every ‘SNL’ star once they leave the show), they could probably pull a series together pretty quickly. Actually, with the Michaels-produced ‘Up All Night’ in some sort of bizarre limbo, they could just dump everyone from that show but Rudolph, bring in Wiig and Feig, and have the spin-off on the air by May.

Josh Zyber

If you watch the bonus features on the Blu-ray edition of ‘L.A. Confidential‘, you’ll find the pilot episode for a proposed TV spin-off starring Kiefer Sutherland in the Kevin Spacey role. It was terrible – just really awful – and rightfully wasn’t picked up (which is especially fortunate, or we might never have gotten ’24’). Regardless, in the right hands of competent writers and show-runners, I still think that this property has a lot of potential for a TV adaptation. With ‘Mad Men’-quality period details and production values, and the sort of gritty realism that cable cop dramas specialize in, this could be a long-running series on FX or AMC.

Those are some of our ideas. What movies do you think would work as TV spin-offs?


  1. HuskerGuy

    I’d go with The Fifth Element. I imagine there could’ve been some cool ways to expand on that universe. Plus, it’d mean Milla in bandages for a little while longer.

  2. Ryan Ratchford

    No doubt about it, when I read the book World War Z, I couldn’t understand why this was being made into a Brad Pitt summer vehicle. Here’s the thing, I’m actually anti-Zombie entertainment, but the method of this book intrigued me. This is very much a collection of human stories. The Zombie’s are the McGuffin. For anyone out there who like me is adverse to Zombie stuff, I highly recommend picking up the Award Winning audio book and you’ll see why this would be a much better TV show than summer blockbuster.

  3. JM

    If Tarantino and Rodriguez did a ‘Grindhouse’ show for HBO I would totally watch every other episode.

    Lake Bell’s ‘In A World…’ on HBO.

    David Fincher could do ‘Heavy Metal’ on HBO.

    Ten hours with Kathryn Bigelow on HBO rebooting ‘Strange Days.’

    For David Mamet on HBO, maybe, ‘House of Cards’ or ‘State and Main’?

    Mira Nair’s ‘Kama Sutra’ – only on HBO, not Starz.

    Gareth Evans ‘S-VHS’ segment extended into a HBO series, please.

    Lauren Anne Miller’s ‘For A Good Time, Call…’ could replace ‘Girls.’

    Joss Whedon’s ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ is not a sexy title, but it stars Clark Gregg and it’s not on Fox, so it’s more than I could ever ask for.

  4. EM

    For years I’ve wanted a TV series based on the classic Universal monsters—not a comedy like The Munsters, but a veritable horror-drama-adventure. It would star the Big Three of Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, and the Wolf Man, with appearances by such characters as the Bride of Frankenstein, Doctor Pretorius, the Invisible Man, the Phantom of the Opera (Chaney style), and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. (At some point we would have to have the Wolf Man meet the Werewolf of London, who has such smashing style.) Each season would feature an arc revolving around some horrific plot involving the Big Three. And the series would be in black-and-white, with technical wizardry on a par with the original films (or at least bearing a fair resemblance).

  5. Kevin

    We’ve had a couple children’s cartoon shows based on it in the past, but I always thought a live-action series based on “Ghostbusters” could be pretty cool.

  6. Wurms

    The Last Samurai – gives the network their Caucasian actor lead. Gives Asian American actors a steady gig. Can have ninja attacks, massive battles, training sequences. Skies the limit here. Easily can go multiple seasons, dealing with the new Japanese government coming into power over the emperor. Plus hot asian women!

    Always thought Jumper would be a cool show. Like a mix of Person of Interest, Quantum Leap, A-Team. Where each week he jumps to a new spot around the world, finds trouble, helps someone, but always has to be on the run from the Paladins, and occasionally meet other Jumpers. Very few shows can be in a new city around the world every episode.

    Another thought is RobotJox. Giant Mech Robot battles! Nuff said!

  7. William Henley

    I just saw The Host last night, and thinking that could make for an interesting TV series. Not with Wanderer anymore – they did say at the end of the movie there were at least 3 other resistance cells. Think of a spinoff series on this – we could start off with the initial invasion, how long it was before people started realizing what was happening, the intial resistance cells, etc. We could also have a series about what happened when they started freeing humans.

  8. William Henley

    Sorry, Adam, I got to do this:

    What better way to pass the time than a weekly TV series propelled by Al’s manic energy, visual inventiveness and brilliant sense of humor? The TV landscape has changed more than a little bit since 1989 (geez, has it really been that long?), so there’s a whole brave new world there for Al to skewer. I’d watch the heck out of it anyway.

    Isn’t that what this is?


    Plot Summery:
    The basic plot of this show was that Weird Al was coming to you from a split-level cave twenty miles below the surface of the earth, along with his pet, Harvey The Wonder Hamster. Each show would have a rather loose plot around which strange and weird things would happen. Written by Jonathan D. H. Parshall

    Parody accordionist “Weird Al” Yankovic saves TV producer JB Toppersmith from a bear trap and gets a television contract. Al’s show comprises of hanging out with his friends Harvey the Wonder Hamster, The Hooded Avenger, Cousin Corky, Madame Judy, Valerie Brentwood, Gal Spy, Mrs. Fesenmeyer, and Bobby the Inquisitive Boy as they answer Al’s Mailbag, watch educational films, watch Fatman cartoons, have Harvey do death defying stunts, see what’s on the other channels (including News Anchor Al, Aerobic Instructor Al, the Fred Huggins show, the Uncle Ralphie show, Siskel and Ebert, and Martha Quinn public service announcements), and sing some of Al’s famous songs or songs from a special musical guest. Each episode, by FCC requirement, had a lesson, usually given by The Hooded Avenger. Written by doggans

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