Television Adaptations

Dark Shadows, the old ABC gothic soap opera, is such natural material for Tim Burton and Johnny Depp that you almost wonder why they bothered. Of all the movies and TV shows to remake, it’s perhaps the most logical choice for the men who brought us Beetlejuice and Captain Jack Sparrow, respectively, not to mention Edward Scissorhands and other offbeat luminaries in their partnership. Lighthearted macabre quirk is the tandem’s specialty and the primary operating mode of their new movie, a visually-pleasing haunted house/vampire comedy. But even if Dark Shadows is a case of safe, smooth sailing for its makers, it’s still far more spirited and thoughtfully made than most summer movie counterparts.

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Yes, the moment you may or may not have been waiting for since 1991 is almost here: 21 Jump Street, the overly sincere, denim heavy, painfully ‘80s TV series about baby-faced cops going undercover in high schools, blowin’ up the spot and teaching everyone about morals or whatever, has been updated and turned into a movie that’s being released this weekend! The series, which aired from 1987 to 1991, served as a launching pad for the career of one of today’s greatest actors: Peter DeLuise. (Johnny Depp may have also been on the show.) The weird premise and casting of a pre-mega fame DeLuise are, I guess, what keep 21 Jump Street alive in our collective memory all of these years later. (Although, I don’t think that this new movie is necessarily intended for people who were fans of the series or who were even alive during its run.) Even though the whole “film based on old TV show” genre is ultimately the result of laziness, unoriginality, and rooted in the simple fact that that our memories and feelings of nostalgia can be exploited for profit, the release of 21 Jump Street means that series that existed in the ‘90s are starting to make their way to the big screen and that’s kind of exciting. So if this is where we’re headed, someone might as well start adapting the following shows.

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There has been a lot of speculation as to what director David Yates would work on now that he’s done capping off the Harry Potter franchise with four hugely successful films. He’s got a lot of offers on the table, a lot of irons in the fire, and up until this point it has mostly seemed like he would be able to choose whatever he wants to do. But that may no longer be the case. News coming out of Variety suggests that Yates isn’t going to be able to do whatever he wants to do…but whenever he wants to do. That’s right, Yates is teaming up with the BBC to create a big budget, big screen, Big McLarge Huge version of everyone’s favorite Time Lord, Doctor Who. If you don’t know what Doctor Who is, then man you must really hate things that are British. When you talk about long-running TV shows, you’re talking about Doctor Who. Running all the way from 1963-1989 and then spawning a revival in 2005, Doctor Who is a science fiction show that concerns itself largely with rubber aliens, time-traveling police boxes, scarves, and David Tennant’s floppy hair. So far 11 different men have portrayed the Sonic Screwdriver wielding Doctor, and if Yates gets his way, this new film will introduce a 12th.

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The power of Gigantor is in Bryan Barber‘s hand. The music video and Idlewild director grew tired of being passed over for bigger budget gigs, so he decided to buy the rights (including toys and video games) for a movie-ready concept that, according to Deadline Toyama, he’s describing as Transformers meets The Goonies. That’s some solid math right there. The project he’s picked is Gigantor – the Americanized anime version of Tetsujin 28-go – which features an incredibly large robot controlled by a 12-year-old boy by remote. The television show was on in the 60s, around the same time as Speed Racer, and it saw a mild resurgence in the 90s. This is a shrewd move by Barber who clearly wants to take control of his own directorial destiny. It’s unclear whether the gambit will work (as it depends on a studio or financier believing first in the project and second in Barber as the right director for it), but it would be unbelievably fantastic to see the giant tin can up on the big screen. It would no doubt be a tonal cousin to The Iron Giant – a movie that makes me cry just thinking about it – and it has the potential to be a major hit with kids of all ages. Plus, Gigantor is just damn cool. You can check out some of the original animation in this video (while checking out the theme song being performed by 90s alt-metal slackers Helmet):

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The end of the world next year may need to wait for everyone to put on their pink bow ties. According to a conversation with The Playlist, Adam Scott is announcing that everyone that would be involved with a Party Down movie is on board, and that they’re close to making a Summer 2012 shoot a reality. The money quote: “We’re like 90% there, we’re hoping to do it maybe next summer, if everyone’s schedules work out and the guys get time to write a script. They have kind of a skeleton of a story worked out so we know where it’s going to go but we just have to kind of cross the t’s and dot the i’s, or something. But Starz are being super cool and they’re going to let us do it, and we’re all excited, we all want to do it.” For a project like this, the key might be in marketing it to a crowd that isn’t already in the rabid fan base of the show. Or at least convincing someone with access to a check book that the audience can be broadened. Ultimately, this is a vague yet hopefully statement. It would be fantastic to see it happen, and tossing out a scheduling goal is more concrete than other television show adaptations, but if that last 10% is financing, it might be a longer road toward shooting than Scott lets on. Still, it’s not like talk of this project has worn out its welcome […]

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Dark Shadows is the next chance for Tim Burton to succeed, and he’s playing in a very familiar sandbox. A too-familiar sandbox for some, but there’s still hope that in retuning to Gothic roots in a passion project for Johnny Depp, the director can recapture some magic. The one mystery about the movie is what kind of tone it will take. The television show is well known enough, but the movie could take it seriously, keep the camp, or shoot for something entirely different. Fortunately, there’s a plot synopsis  lurking about (thanks to a Warner Bros. press release announcing the start of filming). Unfortunately, it won’t tell us anything about the tone. Read the synopsis for yourself and try to figure out if Burton and company are going more Scissorhands or more Ed Wood here:

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This is a question that speaks to the very core of our humanity. How is it possible that trailers have been made that are even worse, more moronic, awkwardly craven, and less funny than the brutal marketing assault that hit us during Operation Yogi Bear? Who would do this to us? What did we do to deserve this? How do we make it stop? Why is it going after our children? Cynicism and sarcasm aside, this trailer for The Smurfs might be the single worst piece of film marketing I’ve ever seen in my life. No hyperbole. Not only do jokes not land, they hang in the air begging to be noticed. The events in it are nonsensical to the point that we should all be medically concerned for whomever cut it together. It just all looks so lazy and low-rent. What’s worse, they’ve made Neil Patrick Harris do some exceedingly lame physical comedy that looks like it’s aimed at dog-levels of intelligence. Filmmakers, feel free to dumb things down if you must, but at least keep it inside the species. The horror, the horror…

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You already knew that Helena Bonham Carter would be joining her life partner Tim Burton’s film version of Dark Shadows because you haven’t been in a come for the past decade. It was only a question of who she’ll play. According to Deadline Sunnydale, Carter is in talks to play Dr. Julia Hoffman – a regular character on the creaky television show who was originally played by Academy Award nominee (for Night of the Iguana) Grayson Hall. No word yet on whether her character will have two different-colored shoes. It would be a role that sees a lot of screen time with (a wigless) Barnabas Collins (as played by Johnny Depp). According to the same report, Michelle Pfeiffer might re-team with Tim Burton for the first time since Batman Returns. She would play Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the mater familias of the clan who was played by noir legend Joan Bennett on the original show. It’s also important to note that while the television show has a moderately large cult following, and is truly beloved by the filmmakers here, it was a trainwreck of a program that typically had flies buzzing in and out of shots, a door that refused to work, and boom mics sneaking into frame. It was hectic, daily episode madness that made it so lovable, so it’ll be interesting to see if Burton can capture that same spirit.

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In the Bizarro-world version of Ghostbusters, where you call on ghosts instead of calling to exterminate them, Russell Brand has taken up shop as the ghostly ring leader. He’ll play Fred Mumford, a loser who happens to have lost his life, that decides to band together other dead losers to help the living. Rentaghost will be Warners’ film adaptation of the BBC Television show from the 1970s. The words “BBC” and “1970s” should clue you in that the show is campy and over the top, which just might be perfect for Brand, although the studio is likening the film to Beetlejuice. Having never seen the show, it’s difficult to speculate, but it does seem clear that there will be a lot of opportunities for other comedic actors to play eccentric characters (like an 18th century man afraid of technology). Plus, this seems like a much better option than seeing Brand remake Drop Dead Fred. Thankfully, Warners decided not to make DeLaRentaGhost, the film about a ghost who isn’t dead that will come design clothes for you, or Rent-a-Ghost, the film about a group of New York City bohemians who die of AIDS and come back to help their friends live in huge lofts without paying rent. [Cinema Blend]

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On Friday, Warners sent out a twitter missive into the world thanking fans for sending them support for Veronica Mars – the erstwhile show about the plucky teenage detective solving cases while she solved her own. In return, the studio set up an email address where fans can write in (ostensibly to give numeric proof that the demand for a movie is there). Warners shouldn’t wait for that numeric proof. They’ve gone that route before by looking at ratings for a show that was on a network no one’s heard of and by looking at DVD sales. The numbers aren’t there, but the character is, and when good writing is staring you in the face, that writing should be reason enough to make things happen. Since that’s the least convincing business argument, here are three better reasons for why Warners needs to make a move on Veronica Mars.

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I don’t watch Spike because I didn’t date rape anyone in college, but I’m starting to think that I should. Watch the station, not date rape someone. Why? Because apparently they have a show where science (science!) determines who would win in an epic battle of the most intense warriors of all time. Now, we can report that Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy (who’s currently wrapping Real Steel) wants to bring Deadliest Warrior to the big screen.

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The 90s are no longer safe. Unless they are. It took me a while to do the calculation, but apparently people born in 1990 turned 20 this year, and that means that Hollywood has suddenly realized there’s an entire decade’s worth of material that’s ostensibly retro enough to hammer into our theaters. It’s been a long time coming, but if the report that Disney wants to put live-action Gargoyles on the big screen is truly an adaptation of the Mouse’s very own cartoon show of the same name, then 1990 has been breached, and the entire decade is now vulnerable to remakes, a creepy live-action Duck Tales, and possibly a “Blossom” film. Luckily, there are scarce details (beyond Disney molding this in the same glossy-to-hide-the-lack-of-substance way they’re doing all action adventure these days) so it might be a newer concept or it might see Goliath, Hudson, Broadway and the whole crew resurrected for feature length. [Heat Vision]

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It’s rated PG-13, but Mr. T himself is claiming that The A-Team is a bit too violent and sexy for his taste. Especially since it’s being marketed to families and young teenagers. Assuming that he saw the entire film without having his vision blocked by gold chains, do you dare disagree with the T?

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The television show now entering its 6th season might be headed to a new medium if Mark Wahlberg has any say in the matter. Hint: he does.

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Rob Hunter takes a look at the new trailer for A-Team and focuses a bit too much on Jessica Biel.

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A cultural icon is about to bring his terrorist asskicking to a theater near you.

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UFOMovie

I don’t wanna wait! For Joshua Jackson to be cast in a science fiction film that sounds a lot like Men in Black and is based off a British television show from the 70s. Luckily, I don’t have to.

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ChristophWaltz

After impressing audiences around the world in Inglourious Basterds, it looks like Waltz will be exhausting his English for The Green Hornet.

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GreenHornetProduction

At this point, I’m wondering if this production can hold on to its actors long enough to get them in front of a camera. Especially since the camera is already running.

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smurfsmovie3d

If you are an adorable young child that wants to make sure Clumsy Smurf makes it back to his village, you may have a shot at being cast in the Smurfing Smurf movie.

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