I remember when a common trope in Hollywood was to adapt classic TV series for the big screen. Now it appears we’re entering a period where more movies will be adapted for TV. Just recently the adaptation of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo (which they executive produced) was met with critical acclaim. Just this past week two new movies inspired- TV series were announced; and both have the respective directors of those films as part of the series.
Steven Spielberg is developing a series based on his 2002 film Minority Report. The film starred Tom Cruise as a police officer in a distant future where people known as precogs can see murders before they happen. Martin Scorsese is also set to direct a pilot for HBO based on his 2010 film Shutter Island, entitled Ashecliffe. In the film Leonardo DiCaprio played a US Marshall in 1954 who is sent to investigate the disappearance of an inmate at Ashecliffe mental hospital . He then discovers not everything is what it seems and there may be a sinister conspiracy against him. The series will explore the origins of Ashecliffe in the early 20th Century. The pilot will be scripted by Dennis Lehane, who authored the book upon which the film was based.
It’s not surprising we’re getting more films adapted in TV series. We’re living in a second Golden Age of Television. TV is the now the place where talented artists experiment in dense and nuanced long form storytelling. Instead of a sequel or remake for the big screen, it’s now a option to explore of a film world’s mythology through TV.
Full disclosure: I love Shutter Island and it’s actually a favourite film of mine. I also like Lehane’s original novel. The fact that both he and Scorsese are involved in this project lends it certain amount of legitimacy. I loved how Scorsese visualized that film so seeing him return to that world is a big deal for me. I’m intrigued by the idea of exploring how mental institutions were run in the early parts of the 20th Century, when mental illness and how to treat it wasn’t completely understood. I think we’re looking at a potentially compelling psychological horror/period piece series.
However, I’m still scratching my head over how they’ll approach making Minority Report in to a series. I don’t think it can be a sequel to the film- since the film ended with the government not using precogs anymore- unless the series wanted to explore how Washington’s police force- the only city where the “Pre-crime Unit” operated- went about adjusting to investigating murders and other crimes without the use of precogs. Maybe it’ll also go the prequel route- maybe they’ll recast the role of Chief John Anderton. They could also go the Prometheus route, with the series taking place in the same universe but telling a different kind of story. Spielberg’s involvement- similar to Scorsese and Lehane’s with Ashecliffe- does lend the project some legitimacy. And ideally, once we learn more details about the show’s premise, it'll make perfect sense how the film’s mythology will work as a TV series.
Both these projects, based on films I admire, are definitely ones which to look forward. The internal mythologies of both Minority Report and Shutter Island provide potential for intriguing science fiction and horror story telling. Count me in for both series.