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Critics Pick the Best Movies That Should Be Made Into TV Shows — IndieWire Survey

From "Harry Potter" and "Robocop" to "The Craft" and "In Bruges," these films and franchises could benefit from extended storytelling.

Firooz Zahedi/Tri Star/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock , Warner Bros., Vincent/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock


Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Tuesday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best show currently on TV?” can be found at the end of this post.)

This week’s question: In light of recent “Galaxy Quest” and “Lord of the Rings” news, which movie/movie franchise should be rebooted as a TV series? (question courtesy of Allison Keene)

Pilot Viruet (@pilotbacon), Vice

I have so many ideas for this! During that season we got “Minority Report” and “Limitless,” I got angry about how many of these reboots/remakes/sequels are male-skewering and male-dominated and started making a list of all the movies I’d rather see instead – obviously ones that are more focused on telling stories about women and non-binary folks. “Whip It” could be a fantastic Freeform teen drama series (I’m still angry that “Bunheads” never got to fully explore its derby plotline), and one that could also be hella queer. It’s absurd to me that there hasn’t been a “Mean Girls” adaptation (the made-for-television movie does not count) or that “Cruel Intentions” failed to make it to the small screen twice. But mostly, I will never give up hope for a super diverse, woman-helmed, and friendship-focused adaptation of “The Craft”—what better time than now for a bunch of badass teen witches to cast spells and destroy the men and bullies who have hurt them?

Don Cheadle and Denzel Washington, "Devil With a Blue Dress"

Don Cheadle and Denzel Washington, “Devil With a Blue Dress”

Tri Star/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Daniel Fienberg (@TheFienPrint), The Hollywood Reporter

Normally these questions have right answers (mine) and wrong answers. This one, however, does not. There are too many possible answers and there are too many approaches that one might take to the question. So it comes down to choosing one approach and giving a few viable answers. My approach: Book series that were adapted well once on the big screen but, for whatever reason, weren’t successful enough to become the movie franchises they were supposed to be. “Hap & Leonard” on SundanceTV has illustrated a fairly simple one book/one season model and I’d love to see it followed on couple of these properties: “Master and Commander” would be the hardest to bring to the small screen, because Peter Weir’s feature proved expensive and only limitedly successful, but why wouldn’t Amazon want to pour some money into a property that could also pour money into Patrick O’Brian’s literary franchise? I’ve said on Twitter for years that Aldis Hodge starring in an Easy Rawlins mystery franchise would be gold, and although the time jumps between Walter Mosley’s books would cause a problem, I think there are easy workarounds. Get it? EASY? And given how busy Dennis Lehane has been on the small screen, why not start over again with his Kenzie/Gennaro novels on Netflix or FX? “Gone Baby Gone” was good, but I don’t know any Kenzie Gennaro fans who thought the casting was so flawless it couldn’t be attempted again for TV. This offers practically a bottomless reservoir of options. But I’ll stop with those three.

Liz Shannon Miller (@lizlet), IndieWire

I have almost too many big ideas for this one, but I will say that I’ve been waiting a long time for that long-rumored live-action “Star Wars” series, especially if they hired a badass showrunner to essentially take some under-explored era of the franchise and basically turn it into “Battlestar Galactica.” (That might be a big ask to make of Disney, but I’m not afraid to beg for any opportunity to see gritty space battles mixed with political drama — with added “Star Wars” goodness!)

Meanwhile, that “Galaxy Quest” series can’t come soon enough. Very very jazzed for what Paul Scheer has in mind.

"Center Stage"

“Center Stage”

Mark Prod/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Damian Holbrook (@damianholbrook), TV Guide Magazine

I would love to see “Center Stage” turned into a grittier dramatic series about the really messed up, competitive and unhealthy world of professional ballet dancers, maybe on FX. More Alan Parker’s original “Fame” meets “Black Swan” (without the lesbian-porn fantasy crap and psycho feathers) than the cheesy sequels. Imagine if Ethan Stiefel’s Cooper Nielsen went head-to-head against Donna Murphy’s Juliette Simone, who has traded teaching dance at American Ballet Company to open her own modern-dance company. They could battle over Jody Sawyer’s now-teenaged daughter, a rising star hiding a potentially career-killing condition and a controlling boyfriend who will do anything — or anyone — to make her a star. They could hire all talent from “So You Think You Can Dance.” I would watch the shit out of that show.

"In Bruges"

“In Bruges”


Joyce Eng (@joyceeng61), TVGuide.com

If I had my druthers, movies wouldn’t be adapted into TV shows (and does “Lord of the Rings” really count since that’s a book series?). Come up with something new, people! But if I am forced to pick one, and since I just saw “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” let’s bring “In Bruges” to the small screen. It’d actually be pretty great, guys. It could work as a regular series or a limited series or an anthology series. Think about it: a rotating cast of veteran and rookie hitmen/women (or just bring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson back) hiding in a beautiful, boring European city, which could theoretically change every season if people hate Bruges as much as Ray does. Ralph Fiennes should still play the duo’s boss because no one will ever be able to scream “YOU’RE AN INANIMATE FUCKING OBJECT!” better. “In Bruges” superfan Seth Meyers will obviously produce. Make it happen.

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Allison Keene (@KeeneTV), Collider

Ok look, it’s going to happen eventually, so we may as well talk about it. I love the “Harry Potter” movies and I indulge in nearly every Freeform marathon of them, but I’m also looking forward to the inevitable BBC series adaptation. Think about it — if you had an entire season to explore each book (more or less) there would be so much more world building that could take place, along with time given to some of the side plots and character development outside of the leads. Starting with “Goblet of Fire,” the movies essentially become Cliff Notes for the books because of the time restraints, and things start to get really confusing for movie-only watchers around “Order of the Phoenix” (an underrated book, while I’m mentioning it). Plus, it could lead to some pretty excellent spinoffs like a “Young Marauders” series (which is really what I’m angling for).


April Neale (@aprilmac), Monsters & Critics

RoboCop” is ripe for a strong and uncensored TV reboot effort that would be fueled by the insane political landscape and a cultural civil war raging in the USA that needs some artistic mirroring and a good poking. Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 film was stunningly ahead of its time with regards to gender neutrality and used extreme violence and satire mixed up in a way that made it palatable as a family film, which is so very hard to do well.

It would be fantastic to have the remaining original cast somehow involved in a TV series that keeps to the spirit of Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner’s original film script. It was a powerfully wrought, sentimental and wickedly poignant, violent piece perfectly timed that would resonate strongly in this off-kilter present-day of ours, which is why I felt that the Canadian efforts,1994 “RoboCop: The Series” and 2001 miniseries “RoboCop: Prime Directive” simply did not and faded into obscurity pretty quickly, as did the 2014 film reboot.

“RoboCop” the TV series done right with satirically bent clever creatives would be flat-out amazing. For my money, Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) is the MOST underrated villain of all time. Just so sad that Miguel Ferrer is no longer with us to be part of it. We still have Kurtwood Smith, Peter Weller, Nancy Allen and Ronny Cox!

Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall), Uproxx

“Watchmen” was my answer for a while, because the movie was so disappointing. But Damon Lindelof is doing it for HBO, so let’s go in a wildly different direction and say “Lawrence of Arabia.” Don’t change the script at all, but tell the story over 13 super decompressed Netflix hours. Omar Sharif’s entrance? That’s a whole episode. Lawrence doing the rescue in the Sun’s Anvil? That’s a whole episode. Intermission? Whole episode, with no Skip Intro option. What could go wrong?

"Lawrence of Arabia"

“Lawrence of Arabia”


Caroline Framkie (@carolineframke), Vox

Most of the movie to TV adaptations have focused on splashy sci-fi or big budget blockbusters. But for my money, the best is “Friday Night Lights,” which found several deeply human stories within a single heartwarming sports movie to explore with the extra space they could have in a TV show. So I’d go for something a little more down to earth, and even pretty current. “Lady Bird,” a friend of mine recently pointed out, is so good at nailing high school dynamics that spending a couple years with its theater kids and too cool haughty assholes could make for one of the better high school shows, period. Besides, if we’re all about lamenting how “Freaks and Geek”s was so ahead of its time — and we are, because it was — why not give the talent behind a “Lady Bird” or “Edge of Seventeen” some more room?

Ben Travers (@BenTTravers), IndieWire

Ever since reading this recent interview with Dennis Lehane (conducted by fellow Critic’s Poll participant, Dan Fienberg), I’ve been obsessing over the Kenzie/Gennaro series that could’ve been. Despite Lehane’s work being regularly adapted for theaters (everything from “Mystic River” to “Shutter Island” to “Live By Night” has been turned out for the big screen), his landmark P.I. characters, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, have only been brought to life once — and very well — in Ben Affleck’s 2007 film, “Gone Baby Gone.”

Their story starts long before the events of the movie, and the various mysteries they investigate and personal trials they face would make for quite a six-season series. So bring them back for the small screen, build up to the missing child case that defines their relationship, and make the most of these morally complex stories. It’s not a straight adaptation of the film, but the best adaptations often aren’t.

Q: What is the best show currently on TV?*

A: “Better Things” (four votes)

Other contenders: “The A Word,” “A Christmas Prince,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “The Mayor,” “The Punisher,” “Runaways”

*In the case of streaming services that release full seasons at once, only include shows that have premiered in the last month.

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