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TV Report Card: How The New Class Of Movie-Based Shows Measures Up

As Minority Report and Limitless debut, we rate recent movie-to-TV adaptations, with input from some of the showrunners and Bob Weinstein.

TV Report Card: How The New Class Of Movie-Based Shows Measures Up
[Photo Mash Up: Joel Arbaje for Fast Company; Hannibal: Brooke Palmer, courtesy of NBC; Transporter the series: Ken Woroner, courtesy of TNT; About A Boy: Isabella Vosmikiva, courtesy of NBC; 12 Monkeys: Ken Woroner, courtesy of SYFY; From Dusk Til' Dawn the series: courtesy of El Rey Network; Fargo: Chris Large, courtesy of FX; Scream: courtesy of Viacom, MTV Networks]

“People used to be ashamed to say they watched TV,” says Bob Weinstein, cohead of Dimension Films and its television division. “Now, they’re ashamed to say they don’t watch TV.”

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It’s true–home entertainment has undergone a full-scale sea change. While a patina of prestige still surrounds the movie industry, television has emerged in the past decade as an endlessly fertile garden of big ideas, top-tier talent, and vivid visuals. It’s no wonder the world of movies and television have been colliding more than ever lately.

Traditionally, adaptations have begun on the small screen and wound up in cineplexes–your Brady Bunches, Addams Families, and Charlie’s Angels, etc. Long before then, though, shows like M*A*S*H had already emerged from cinematic origins. And while TV-to-movie adaptations enjoyed a long run as the status quo, somewhere around the time 21 Jump Street became a hilarious, self-referential treatise on the act of rebooting for the big screen, things started going in the other direction. Thoroughly.

“There’s been an explosion of different outlets on TV recently, and there’s just tremendous talent out there,” Weinstein says of the recent increase in high-profile movie-to-TV adaptations. “It’s now an outstanding medium.”

With two new shows based on films debuting this week, Minority Report and Limitless, and many in the works, including The Mist, School of Rock, Training Day, and Evil Dead, Co.Create has taken a deep dive into how nine examples from the most recent voluminous wave of such shows has fared thus far–with commentary from some of the creators and showrunners responsible. So strap in and read on for a close look at a new era where the big screen, small screen, and probably the second screen, too, are all merging together into a never-ending stream of serialized entertainment.

Hannibal

HannibalPhoto: Brooke Palmer, courtesy of NBC

What The Show Retains
Not only does Hannibal feature several characters from Silence of the Lambs, but it always intended to eventually arrive at specific arcs from the movies. The end of the show’s third and final season culminates in a retelling of the Red Dragon arc previously seen in the film Manhunter and the 2002 remake Red Dragon.

How It Diverges
The movies rarely show precapture Hannibal Lecter except during an intro and flashbacks. The show, on the other hand, takes place with Hannibal fully in his element, while wisely skipping over the origin story. Another difference is the ample amount of gore, which was kept to a minimum in the movies, and therefore perhaps making more of an impact each time out. The series stretches the limits of what can be shown on network TV, with savage acts of brutality as gross as anything on The Walking Dead or in an Eli Roth movie. Also, just as in the books, Detective Will Graham (here played by Hugh Dancy) has a knack for putting himself inside the mind of a serial killer, only these moments are now depicted with a disorienting technique that shows Graham behaving like a killer. Chilling stuff.

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Critical Reception
Critics praised the show’s intelligence, cinematography, and batshit weirdness. They also enjoyed the attention to detail on food presentation. The average Rotten Tomatoes score for its three seasons is a robust 88.1%, and on IMDb it received an 8.6/10.

Ratings
The show never truly took off in ratings, despite securing a modest, dedicated following. NBC renewed the series twice, but recently decided to make the third season its final one.

Prospects For Longevity
Hannibal has been canceled, and several networks declined to pick it up.

The Verdict
Mixed success. While it would have undoubtedly been interesting to see how creator Bryan Fuller and his team went out on their own terms, the show will be remembered fondly and seems likely to be discovered by more viewers as time goes on. It also sustained its status and even improved in critical opinion as it went along—a rare feat. It’s a shame we’ll never see how the show would’ve handled the Buffalo Bill arc.

Fargo

What The Show Retains
The Midwest milieu. The suspense that comes with a lead character whose schemes go so incredibly, violently wrong that his or her lies will inevitably be discovered. A connection to the events of the movie that arrives so unimposingly smack dab in the middle of the season, it feels completely unforced. A cast filled with accomplished character actors (Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks, Oliver Platt, Bob Odenkirk, Adam Goldberg, etc.). The spot-on accents.

How It Diverges
Several elements from the movie also fall into the show, although they’re a bit askew. There is a female sheriff, but she doesn’t start off bearing anything resembling the stature of Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson. There’s only one hitman, rather than Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare’s two-man goon squad. And Freeman’s Lester doesn’t have a kidnapping plot that serves as inciting incident. Much like Hannibal, the violence here is accelerated so significantly that a scene with an all-out massacre can’t hope to achieve the impact of the famous wood chipper moment in Fargo the film. Also, the dialogue doesn’t have the Coen-esque intricacy that raises the movie’s rewatchability. As it turns out, though, the show doesn’t need it in order to succeed on creator Noah Hawley’s terms.

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Critical Reception
The gallows humor and riveting performances got attention from critics, who also just seemed impressed that the vaunted legacy of Fargo, an unlikely candidate for adaptation, remained unsullied. The show received a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 9/10 on IMDB.

Ratings
The show premiered with 2.6M viewers last summer and shed about a fifth of them throughout the season. While the ratings were unspectacular, Fargo‘s instant status as a prestige show meant it would have to do a whole lot worse in order to not get renewed.

Prospects For Longevity
As a season-length anthology, like True Detective and American Horror Story, Fargo will have the opportunity to keep reinventing itself for as long as it enhances FX’s reputation. With a sharp second-season cast that includes Kirsten Dunst, Jean Smart, Jesse Plemons, and Ted Danson, Fargo is poised to continue its success.

The Verdict
Total success. With multiple Emmy and Golden Globe wins, and a highly anticipated second season arriving in October, the show is hot enough to melt all that Minnesota snow.

Scream

What The Show Retains
“After Wes Craven directed Scream 4, we just felt that we honestly pretty much did everything we wanted to do as far as movies go, and it was always on our minds that Scream someday could be developed into a TV show,” says Bob Weinstein, executive producer of Scream. “The main reason we thought it worked in the movies is the reason we thought it could work on TV: It’s a natural mystery. Unlike most slasher movies, it’s more of an Agatha Christie whodunit. That’s why it was successful in the movies and that’s why even more so, it could be successful on TV.”

As an example of how elements from the film live on in the series, there is an old homicide that may be tied into a new homicide, there’s a mask, and there’s a Courteney Cox/Gale Weathers surrogate character, but she’s now a mystery podcaster rather than a reporter. Aside from these changes, the social media-centric show is different in how rooted it is in the high school experience of today. (The median age of the original Scream cast is 43.)

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How It Diverges
“I think what [creators Jay Beattie, Jill E. Blotevogel, and Dan Dworkin] came up with and what we liked was, instead of setting it in Woodsboro, we kept the DNA of the movies, and its sense of humor, its self-referential nature, and its mystery—we kept that. But we did not copy. There will be no mention of Neve Campbell’s character—she lives in another world.”

Critical Reception
With a 48% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the series has divided critics. Some say the show suffers from a bland cast that is impossible to care about as they get picked off one by one. However, the Scream is directed right square at a teen audience and is thus critic-proof. The show received a 7.2/10 on IMDB.

Ratings
In its first season, Scream averaged .75M viewers per episode, which is only okay. With delayed DVR viewings factored in, though, the show had the most-watched new-series premiere of the summer on cable with millennials. And with the backing of Dimension’s new TV division and MTV’s penchant for giving new shows room to grow, this show is also ratings-proof.

Prospects For Longevity
Scream has already been renewed for a second season, and considering the long shelf life of its sister show, Teen Wolf, this killer looks like it may have serious legs.

The Verdict
Mixed success. While a devoted teen following will keep the show alive, it’s going to have to hook viewers beyond the MTV demo in order to become part of the greater pop culture conversation in a more significant way. Perhaps renewed interest in the project, following the recent untimely passing of Wes Craven, will scare up more viewers in season two.

The Transporter

What The Show Retains
The TV series based on the Luc Besson films is positioned as a continuation from the original film series–not including 2015’s Transporter Refueled. It still revolves around Frank Martin, a professional courier/driver for hire with a tendency to get involved in sticky, action-packed situations. The series, which has run for two seasons, replaces Jason Statham with Chris Vance in the title role, with the only character to cross over being Inspector Tarconi, played by François Berléand. Producer Susan Murdoch says the most consistent element between the movie and the series was the action. “In the first season, we definitely concentrated on getting the action right,” says Murdoch. “It was a huge challenge because of the cost and the time you have in television relative to features. But for the most part, we got a very high level of action, both in terms of screen time and quality.”

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How It Diverges
Aside from a different face on the main character, the series also makes Martin out to be less of a loner, featuring a regular team of helpers. In season one, he has a tech expert car mechanic, as well as a former CIA agent helping him book jobs. Murdoch says that while the movies can tell a single, simple story for 90 minutes and then walk away, a series needs to engage its audience with characters and situations that will keep bringing them back week after week. “It’s a different kind of writing in particular,” she says. “And the characters have to be multidimensional in a way that is less important for theatrical characters in an action adventure.” Murdoch also says the main character of Martin has more depth on TV. “He’s more multidimensional and has a past,” she says. “You don’t see that in the features or in Jason Statham’s portrayal of the character. And, of course, there are other ongoing characters that surround Frank and his job as a transporter. They create an ongoing world that exists beyond the episodic situation.”

Critical Reception
Not great. For the most part, the show was treated as an action series made for the largest possible international audience–simple stories told with plenty of action. Not exactly HBO or AMC material, but something 12-year-old boys might like. To be fair though, the first and second seasons boast Rotten Tomatoes audience ratings of 41% and 70%, respectively, which on average rank just as well as the films–the original (53%), Transporter 2 (52%), Transporter 3 (37%), and the new Transporter Refueled (16%).

Ratings
By the time the show premiered on TNT in the U.S. in late 2014, it had already aired in 185 countries around the world. The first season averaged 1.05 million viewers, while season two dipped to 910,000 viewers.

Prospects For Longevity
The show’s second season ended in cliffhanger fashion, but there’s been no word yet on a third season.

The Verdict
Let’s be honest, the show didn’t have a high bar to measure up to in terms of acting and story, and by most accounts, it’s managed to consistently keep the action up to par, particularly on a TV budget. Will anyone care if it never comes back? Probably not. But it’s potential filler for any network to provide a quick popcorn action fix beyond the four films.

About A Boy

About a Boy: Benjamin Stockham as Marcus, David Walton as WillPhoto: Jordin Althaus, courtesy of NBC

What The Show Retains
Both the television and film versions of About a Boy are based on Nick Hornby’s novel, and they’re both fairly faithful to the source material–they’re both about a hip, self-centered, idly wealthy guy named Will Freeman who strikes up an unlikely friendship with an 11-year-old boy named Marcus, anyway, and the weirdness that ensues when Will and Marcus’s mom end up having to relate to one another like adults.

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How It Diverges
Both the 2002 film About a Boy and Hornby’s novel are not just set in England, they’re very British stories–Will’s idle wealth is the result of inherited royalties for a novelty Christmas song his dad wrote, for example, because self-determination is just too American, and the themes of the story include a heavy look at suicide and depression. The sitcom bumped About a Boy over to our shores, where Will’s wealth was the result of a song he wrote, and the heady themes of mental health and suicide were largely cast aside.

Critical Reception
About a Boy was largely well-received–the show enjoys a 76% Rotten Tomatoes rating–even if most of the commentary centers around likability and chemistry between its leads, rather than originality or an innovative premise.

Ratings
The show opened to middling ratings, and steadily dwindled as it progressed through its two seasons. It may have been likable, but only by the slim number of viewers who actually watched.

Prospects For Longevity
Oh, it’s already gone. About a Boy did get two seasons, which is better than most low-rated sitcoms do, but those 33 episodes are all that exist.

The Verdict
About a Boy probably won’t be widely missed, if only because it wasn’t widely watched, but it was something of a hidden gem. David Walton managed to balance the inherent douchey bro qualities of Will Freeman’s character with a goofiness that made him relatable, and Benjamin Stockham’s Marcus was a charming weirdo who brought the best out of the other actors. The show’s real secret weapon was Minnie Driver as Marcus’s mom, though, who is the sort of talent most sitcoms would kill to have. It’s a shame that About a Boy is done, because there was a lot of richness to the premise and the show was well-situated to mine that.

12 Monkeys

What The Show Retains
Time travel is the focus of 12 Monkeys in movie form, and on TV as well. The basic conceit is the same, too: Humanity has been all but wiped out by a virus 30 years into the future, and it’s up to a prisoner named James Cole to travel back in time find the people who can stop it.

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How It Diverges
Perhaps the biggest difference is that Brad Pitt’s star-making turn in the film as psych ward resident Jeffrey Goines has been gender-swapped–instead, we get Emily Hampshire as Jennifer Goines. Both characters are still the child of one of the doctors Cole has been sent back to contact, they’re both connected to the Army of the Twelve Monkeys that appears to be responsible for the plague, and both actors play them as unhinged mental patients. Beyond the surface differences, though, there’s also a different philosophy behind the show. Showrunner Terry Matalas explains, “It’s a chance to expand the world that’s established in the movie, and to look at it in long form, which challenges you to create new characters, new dynamics, new worlds, and new spheres of action that weren’t in the movie. The movie is a great jumping-off point, and a great place to say, ‘What if . . . ?’ And to properly do that, one of the changes that the team at 12 Monkeys had to make was a big one: “Those changes are scary, but for us, it was the Terry Gilliam aesthetic,” he says. “It worked amazingly well in a two-and-a-half-hour film, but to keep that kind of tone and aesthetic for multiple seasons, you ask yourself, ‘Would this become exhausting, could we keep doing this?’ And you have to make a decision to shy away from something that worked extraordinarily well in the original, and so that becomes scary, because people who responded to that in the original may not respond to what you’re doing.”

Critical Reception
Critics found the rules of time travel presented in 12 Monkeys to be fairly incomprehensible, which is a bummer in a show that is very much about time travel as a concept. But beyond that, it’s been praised for its myth-building, pacing, and note-perfect characters. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is an iffy 61%, but it fares better on IMDb, with a more-than-respectable 7.7 out of 10.

Ratings
Tempered expectations fared well for 12 Monkeys–a result of the show airing as part of the struggling SyFy lineup, by whose standards the series is a runaway hit. At the very least, its audience rose as the first season went on, as opposed to dropping, and it was renewed for season two with four episodes left to air.

Prospects For Longevity
SyFy seems very committed to 12 Monkeys in its ongoing quest to find a new Battlestar, and while it’s not exactly The Wire or Mad Men, it’s the closest thing the network has to a “prestige” show, so the odds are they’ll be telling this story for years to come.

The Verdict
It’s good, but it’s not Gilliam–and it’s not trying to be. Audiences that were able to disabuse themselves of the idea that it was supposed to match Terry Gilliam’s batshit worldview and grim visual aesthetic early on found a lot to love in 12 Monkeys. Those who were too attached to a 20-year-old movie that featured a flukey but brilliant performance from Brad Pitt may have been disappointed, but if they come back for season two with different expectations, they should have a good time seeing this world unfurl.

From Dusk Till Dawn

What The Show Retains
Vampires plus bank robbers plus a random family in a Winnebago are the ingredients that make up the Quentin Tarantino-penned, Robert Rodriguez-helmed From Dusk Till Dawn film, and the show is definitely all about its vampires, bank robbers, and rando family in an RV. In fact, that’s what showrunner Carlos Coto–who works closely with Rodriguez on the adaptation of the series for the El Rey Network (which Rodriguez owns)–says brought him to the series to begin with. “In From Dusk Till Dawn, I get Quentin Tarantino’s characters,” he says. “They’re not only iconic, but they’re rich and deep. What I always look for is the characters–not the concept, not the idea, but the characters. I think that’s a mistake that a lot of people make–they get an intellectual property, and they adapt the concept instead of the characters, or the heart of the piece. In my particular case, these characters are all the driving force.” Beyond centering the characters, though, From Dusk Till Dawn’s first season was sometimes slavishly devoted to retelling the movie–things get fleshed out and explored in greater detail, but the pilot episode is just the first scene of the film accordioned out to 44 minutes, and the rest of the season spends a lot of time telling the same story the movie told.

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How It Diverges
The way that From Dusk Till Dawn tells that story is consistent thematically and tonally to the way it was told in the film, but there are a lot of gaps that get filled in here. The Gecko brothers (played by George Clooney and Tarantino himself in the movie) get a whole lot of backstory here that was only just hinted at in the film, and the manhunt for the two outlaws gets depicted in much greater detail, with an entire season-spanning subplot following the Texas Ranger who’s out to get them. The series also smartly dumps the original film’s conceit that, until they turn up at the bar and find themselves surrounded by vampires halfway through the film, it’s an ordinary bank robber film. Instead, the supernatural elements are present from the get-go, which serves to illuminate some questionable character motivations–a necessary change if we’re supposed to relate to the character that Tarantino played in the film, depicted here by Zane Holtz. More importantly, the series finished adapting the film as a 12-episode story at the end of its first season, which means that everything from here on out is all new territory.

Critical Reception
The show got off to a rough start, with a plodding pilot that earned little enthusiasm at the outset. But critics warmed up to the show as it progressed, as the mixed reviews turned favorable. It currently enjoys a 61 Metascore on Metacritic, a 69% Rotten Tomatoes rating, and a 7/10 on IMDb.

Ratings
El Rey isn’t measured by Nielsen, so there’s no hard data on its viewership. But reading the tea leaves, the show seems to be a valuable property for the network, with distribution deals around the globe via Netflix, where it airs as a Netflix original series in international territories. It was also renewed for a second season two weeks into its run, which suggests that El Rey is happy with the return it’s getting on the show.

Prospects For Longevity
Robert Rodriguez is actively involved in every aspect of From Dusk Till Dawn–he directed four episodes the first season, wrote the pilot, and helmed another two eps of the show’s second season–and since he’s also the studio head, it seems exceedingly likely that From Dusk Till Dawn will be on the air until the day Rodriguez feels like the story has been fully told.

The Verdict
Extending tense, perfect five-minute Quentin Tarantino-written scenes into long, boring 44-minute episodes was a misstep for From Dusk Till Dawn, but it’s thankfully a misstep that the series only really made in its premiere. Fans who stuck around to see what it developed into were rewarded with a show that offered the original film’s aesthetic, but with a major focus on building mythology and developing both a fully realized world for the characters to inhabit and ways for those characters to breathe with new life. With season two off in uncharted territory, there’s a lot to like about From Dusk Till Dawn now.

Teen Wolf

What The Show Retains
Like the 1985 film, MTV’s Teen Wolf is about a teenager who is a werewolf, and who finds that being a werewolf makes him better at sports. Oh, and they’re both named Scott. Beyond that, the two have basically nothing in common. Teen Wolf is way more a spiritual heir to another movie-to-TV property–Buffy The Vampire Slayer–than it is related to Michael J. Fox’s tale of lupine adolescence. (Interestingly, original Teen Wolf writer Jeph Loeb went on to develop Buffy as an aborted animated series following that show’s conclusion.)

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How It Diverges
Seriously, it’s basically a completely different property except for the fact that MTV’s Teen Wolf is about a teen wolf. There are funny bits on the show, but it’s not a comedy. The movie Teen Wolf was about a teenager who everyone knew was a werewolf, while the TV show is about a kid with a dark, wolfy secret; the movie was utterly uninterested in the supernatural elements or werewolf mythology, while the series has different classifications of wolves, creatures like banshees and fox spirits running around, and a general focus on world-building. If you like stories about teenage werewolves but hated the Teen Wolf movie, Teen Wolf the series might well be for you.

Critical Reception
Critics were surprised by Teen Wolf in its first season, at least if they expected a comedy instead of a Buffy retread. That’s generally a favorable reaction, though, as retreading the ground paved by a show that was universally beloved isn’t the worst idea anybody’s had. As the series progressed, reactions got even more positive–the third season enjoys a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Ratings
The ratings for Teen Wolf are middling–it averages under two million viewers an episode, which is about 20% of what Fear the Walking Dead gets–but the numbers go way up when you consider the audience for the show on MTV.com, which the show’s creators credit with getting the series renewed for a sixth season.

Prospects For Longevity
The series is already five seasons deep, and it’s been renewed for number six now. That’s already the sort of longevity that most shows would be delighted to land (six seasons and a movie!), so we’d have to declare Teen Wolf a whopping success on the longevity scale even if it’s canceled the day after season six.

The Verdict
On the “How much will it please fans of the original property”” scale, Teen Wolf is a 1/10 (unless those fans are also into Buffy and Twilight). On the “Is it a good show?” scale, though, sure–Teen Wolf is a nice example of taking a name and a premise and turning it into something that’s more than watchable. At the very least, a goofy sitcom about a teenage werewolf who plays basketball would have been pretty hard to imagine lasting more than a few bad episodes, so we’ll call this a win.

Bates Motel

What The Show Retains
Unlike many of the movies-to-TV properties here, Bates Motel isn’t a direct adaptation, it’s a prequel to Hitchock’s most famous work. All of the elements of Psycho–Norman Bates and his family’s motel, his creepy relationship with his mother, and murder–are at work here, and the show digs deep on developing those things in a way that is explicitly geared to building to the story Hitchcock told.

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How It Diverges
Well, in Psycho, Norman Bates’s mom is a corpse (spoilers, we guess?). In Bates Motel, she’s the very-much-alive Vera Farmiga. That’s to be expected from a prequel to a story about a man with, er, severe mommy issues, but that’s the deal here–Bates Motel is more about keeping the ball in the air as it builds to the film than it is in changing the established world of Psycho.

Critical Reception
Critics love Bates Motel. Farmiga got nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of Norma Bates in the first season, and the Rotten Tomatoes ratings have never been lower than 81% any season. It’s not quite a prestige show the way that The Americans or Masters of Sex are–it’s a little too pulpy for that–but it’s definitely well regarded.

Ratings
Like a lot of shows that are building a mythology over multiple seasons, Bates has lost viewers since it started–the first season broke records for A&E, and experienced relatively low drop-off (it started with 3 million viewers and closed with 2.7 million). The numbers waned during the show’s second season, and the third season closed a little better than half of where the series started out. It was certainly a hit when it started, but these days, that would be too strong a word for it.

Prospects For Longevity
Norman Bates ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. The show has already been renewed not just for season four, but also for five. That’s 20 more episodes to explore how Norman Bates becomes a psycho, at minimum.

The Verdict
It’s a risky proposition messing with a work as singular and iconic as Psycho, but Bates Motel does a fine job of nailing the tone and paying tribute to the concept without watering it down or overplaying its hand. Nobody needed 50 episodes of a Psycho prequel before it happened, but this is absolutely the best-case scenario for such a high-risk concept.

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