For a while, Hollywood hoped to cash in on the popularity of serialized television by continuing successful shows like 24, Lost and Arrested Development on the big screen. Some will actually happen. But now they're also going the other direction with the announcement that the Marvel/Avengers film franchise is spinning off a TV series focused on the comic book-based organization S.H.I.E.L.D. The Marvel movies already function in a way that seems inspired by television, though their cliffhangers and crossover elements are borrowed more from their literary sources. Still, these elements are going to fit in perfectly on the small screen.
Other film properties may similarly be perfectly adapted for television. At the moment, studios are already aping serialized television with prequels, sequels and wannabe franchise starters such as Prometheus, The Bourne Legacy, The Amazing Spider-Man and Snow White and the Huntsman. Each includes unanswered questions and is relatively open-ended, setting us up for more episodes and leaving us frustrated in the process. Perhaps any of these would be better suited for TV, when next installments may come a week later rather than years down the line.
One franchise that has worked with serialization and been doing it a while is Resident Evil, which is expected to finally come to a close with a sixth, as-yet-unfilmed installment (the fifth, Retribution, opens next month). Depending on how the storyline goes in that last sequel, I wouldn't mind welcoming Alice or some other character from that universe to continue the franchise on TV. Given the latest statement from producer Frank Marshall, the Bourne films may keep going with new operatives for each installment. That angle might also work better with episode television, though either way it could become awfully repetitive.
Spin-offs of recent movies isn't the only idea for Hollywood lately, as Eddie Murphy is continuing the Beverly Hills Cop franchise on the small screen with a new generation. Not that the "son of..." concept is fresh, but there must be other '80s film characters we could see literally spawn new TV characters. How about one with all the offspring of The Goonies? Maybe the kids of the elderly characters in Cocoon have now made their way to the retirement community and having their own encounter with the Antareans. Think Golden Girls meets Roswell.
Tons of movies, old or new, could do well on the small screen, but one thing I ask is that they stay on the small screen (I guess Marvel excluded, sort of). An attempt to keep continuity through TV and film with The X-Files was viewed as difficult for viewers, and while today's culture and technology may permit better means of crossing over mediums, it also might prove more problematic given how immediately people spoil stuff for others who wish to put their entertainment off for later.
Another rule: let's not spin-off anymore R-rated movies into Saturday morning cartoons like was done for my generation (not that I didn't watch the films and the shows). We don't need a Magic Mike cartoon. But an animated Ted series might make sense, only not aimed at kids.
What movies should get TV spin-offs? Here some responses received so far via Twitter:
Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join the next discussion.