On Monday, it was announced that Amazon and Paramount TV were partnering for a series based on the 1997 sci-fi horror movie Event Horizon. The film, which flopped at the box office amid mixed-to-negative reviews, has grown into something of a cult hit over the years, and it’s not as if Hollywood is above mining its own libraries for new content endeavors.
That’s what makes the movie the perfect specimen for reinvention in today’s streaming-driven and IP-revolving entertainment sphere. It has enough of a pre-existing fanbase to take a gamble on but isn’t revered enough to be considered an untouchable classic. Such a formula presents ample opportunity for the rest of Hollywood to generate some new revenue off the backs of old concepts.
Here are three movies that are well-suited to a second life on television.
World War Z
Max Brooks’ 2006 novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is an observant apocalyptic horror novel that presents snapshots of different cultures through the lens of a devastating zombie outbreak. The 2013 blockbuster movie World War Z was an excuse for Brad Pitt to grow his hair out.
The film isn’t terrible though it fails to tap into the source material’s worldly perspective. But it endured a cascade of production issues and an irresponsibly ballooning budget in service of a so-so final product. Paramount finally pulled the plug on its long-gestating sequel earlier this year.
Commercially speaking, AMC’s The Walking Dead has been a raging success with a decade of strong ratings and multiple viable spinoff avenues. But creatively, the show falls prey to lulls in which it is as brainless as its hordes of insatiable undead antagonists. World War Z could be a more consistent offering that fits on the studio’s basic cable channel Paramount Network or alongside Amazon’s current push for more blockbuster material.
Technically, we’re cheating since a long-in-development Varsity Blues TV series is finally underway over at Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi. But, hey, Paramount can still thank us for all these free suggestions (we swear we’re not trying to pick on you).
Quibi is a mobile-first technology targeting 18- to 34-year-olds that specializes in short-form programming. Specifically, the goal is to begin producing short-form video series made with the production values and budgets of a primetime TV show and complete with elite talent both in front of and behind the camera. The episodes just happen to arrive in splintered bits far shorter than traditional TV.
The high school-set Varsity Blues is a sound starting point for attracting Gen Z and millennials. Imagine Friday Night Lights but without the content restrictions of broadcast television. The film was met with mixed-to-negative reactions but a decent enough box office run and has lived on as a meme-inspiring cult-classic. Smart move by Paramount.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Here’s a goofy one: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. originally began as an MGM television series that ran for four seasons on NBC before being revived in 2015 as an under performing spy film for Warner Bros. The original series helped kick off the spy procedural craze of the 1960s. The film, on the other hand, may have bombed at the box office but was generally well-received by critics as a stylish and star-driven breeze directed by Guy Ritchie. A new TV iteration of the property could go either way.
Assuming MGM collaborates with WarnerMedia on this hypothetical revival, the studios have several directions they can go. If they prefer to hew closer to the procedural format of the original and aim for syndication, they can stick it on one of WarnerMedia’s Turner networks (TNT and TBS). If they opt for Ritchie’s more stylized big budget approach, they can mold it into an action drama for HBO as WarnerMedia ups their content budget by $500 million or serve it up as a streaming exclusive on the forthcoming service HBO Max. Win-win.