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11 Movie Franchises That Would Have Worked Better as TV Shows

September 11, 2017
13 min read

The coolness of movies having their ensuing sequels is well-known. We all love longing for that upcoming movie sequel, immaterial if we have to wait for one year, two years or furthermore. Tables do turn sometimes when the gap widens between expectations and reality when we find the movie sequels lacking the penchant they possessed in their predecessors. May be it is because our perceptions are ever-changing or because we’re expecting a lot too much from movie sequels.

As we all know that there have been some great movie franchises which raised the bar of how sequels should be made, few of them just failed miserably, both in terms of their popularity as well as the impact. Even though these movies may have done great at the box office, they could have done even better as a TV series due to factors such as the smaller scale, more concentrated budget, better scope for improvisations and better and more talent coming in as a part of involvement in smaller, niche roles. Because of reasons unknown, many such movie franchises remain as is, successful or otherwise, and till date, there are no plans to chalk them out as a TV series. So, here goes, the list of movie franchises that would have worked better as TV series, as opposed to their existing formats.

1. The Hunger Games (2012-2015)

I completely understand that ‘The Hunger Games’ has been a hot favorite for many of us, but let’s consider the fact that the box office gross collection of the concluding installment was approximately 60% of the first. Like $140 million less. What adds to the rancor is that there were umpteen redundancies and monotonicities in the concluding sequels, which I believe, could’ve been eliminated to an extent if it were filmed as a TV series. Or probably would’ve lost in the length of the series

The first and the second installments were really impressive year-on-year releases, comprising some wonderful visuals and brilliant performances (especially that of Jennifer Lawrence). And as far as the intro goes, these two nailed it.

The final two installments lacked the charm and the intensity to finish off the movie in style. Rather, they constantly reminded us that we were, in fact, watching a movie, not living it. The story was too bland to be split into two, though it could have been made just as one. Regardless, towards the fag end, everything was somewhat satisfactory and way too predictable.

As a TV series, more side quests to the story and a further detailing of the characters can be done such as those of the previous victors who appear in the 75th Hunger Games. Moreover, adding more characters from each District, what each District does and represents in more detail and what led to the formation of these districts, introducing a few more gray-shade characters and some politics could add some flesh to the bone. So, fingers crossed and may the odds be in our favor.

2. Paranormal Activity (2009-2015)

Frankly, there are not many horror genre TV series on air today. Paranormal Activity is perhaps a classic example of a poorly executed movie franchise despite all the fanfare surrounding it, which otherwise could’ve been great as a TV Series. Only the first installment was decent in general, wherein, it was perhaps the first-of-its-kind in the “Found Footage” horror segment. There were genuine moments of fright and thrill, without any unnecessary fillers.

The following parts, however, reminded us more and more of the same thing, people getting dragged out from their beds, doors closing with brute force, families reviewing their recordings and things flying around in the air, especially in the kitchen and the dining area (Crockeries et. al.).

As a TV series, there’s probably not much to add, except for the split and a resulting increase in the number of installments. Still, I think a few moments of scare can be sustained and cliff-hanged to the following parts, thus maintaining viewership. Moreover,  if the USP is found-footage story itself, there isn’t much variation that can be done apart from carrying it forward as a new story of a new family in every other episode, which can save the now sinking franchise.

3. Final Destination (2000-2011)

Tell me if this sounds familiar – a weird teenager can foresee how s/he and her/his friends die one by one, until the end, due to some horrifying accident because apparently, “death” means business and cannot be cheated, but helps a teenager foresee it. Mostly, from a post-release collections point of view, all the five movies did fairly well, with fluctuating worldwide collections. The eerie thrill, the visual engineering, and coherence prior to each character’s death are worth an applause.

Probably I’d vouch for a better cast and story for each part. Also, the screenplay is rather dull except for the moments of death and the special effects and gore are not very appealing and looks like they were fitted into the story.

As a TV series, introducing more number of characters looks like an added advantage, meaning more number of deaths, blood, and gore, thus satiating the overall propaganda of the movie. Cliffhangers are something that can be exploited to the series’ advantage, may be by killing a character in every episode, ala Game of Thrones less the Fantasy part. How do you think this sounds?

4. The Hangover (2009-2013)

Perhaps my favorite movie series on this list. And okay, guess what? The Hangover TV series would probably emerge as a kickass venture, just because of its cast. Though the box office collections weren’t very impressive for the third installment of the movie franchise, the future isn’t bleak, for the cast comprises of the likes of very talented Zach Galifianakis and the Academy Award Nominee Bradley Cooper. Although Ed Helms and Justin Bartha too didn’t lag in their performances anywhere, what was lagging was the similar storyline for all three, which I wouldn’t call as unfair given the title of the movie itself.

Things that could be better in the TV series are the aspects such as character-depth and funnier and improvised moments, like a slapstick comedy, which probably was lacking in the later two installments I’d say. Also, introducing a new character every now and then wouldn’t be bad either, apart from the 4-5 series regulars.

One thing I’d love to see in the Hangover TV series would be various kinds of hangovers, apart from only those related to alcohol and substance. The franchise, if made as a TV series, can be culminated in a way that all the four stop getting any hangovers permanently or probably end up in an asylum.

5. Divergent (2014-2016)

With an ever dipping Rotten Tomatoes score and popularity, this Veronica Roth’s Novel-based movie franchise should’ve been made as a TV series in the first place. While the performances were good and the story was about average, the movies lacked good twists and turns and maybe a few edge of the seat moments. Also, too many actors probably spoiled the broth and the resulting movies.

A TV series version can be more compact and concise, focusing on the quests of Tris and Four, and not all the members of all the factions per se. Also, there wasn’t much that was shown as a part of Four’s story (probably that’s what the upcoming final installment is all about), so, it can be carried forward with Tris’ story alongside.

Introducing more powerful antagonists and new milestones in the overall premise (like the ones related to Tris’ mother and Four’s father that were done in the movies) would be thrilling to see and probably also be a driving force to binge watch the whole series.

6. American Pie (1999-2012)

I guess nothing can be better than a sex comedy in the form of a TV series, running for a couple of seasons, thanks to the sought-after viewership such franchises have nowadays. A batch of eight films, including the four spin-offs, American Pie is one of the highest grossing sex comedy franchise of all time.

While the spin-offs didn’t fare as well, the premise remained replete with explicit sex scenes, nudity, dark comedy, and guilt. If something wasn’t good, that would be the cast, and there was practically no story or script at all. Something that appears like an improvised sitcom from an eagle eye-view, granularly, it is just an average movie series which exploits sex and objectifies sexuality to gain some viewership, at best.

As a TV series, a story with some inundated explicit comic scenes and a new set of characters, combined with a pound script would be a great start. Moreover, although the viewership is going to remain more or less the same, because of the obvious reasons one has to watch it, having some gory or nasty moments in between won’t be a bad idea, like ‘Scary Movie’ of sorts.

7. Transporter (2002-2015)

In terms of popularity, Transporter franchise has surely raised some eyebrows and broken a couple of ceilings. If I were to critique it, I’d find everything – including the script and cast, about average.

On the lines of ‘True Detective’, what can be done is probably a change of faces in entirety, every season. Regardless, the first installment was a breath of fresh air, with James Bond styled visuals and action, reeling speed cars and chases and a no-bullshit weirdo with three simple rules. As all of us pondered over the fact that he himself could break his rules, so it happens. The ensuing sequels of Transporter series seemingly diverted from the mainstream and projected Frank Martin more like a serial assassin than a maniac driver or a mere “transporter”.

Probably because Jason Statham did not reprise his role in the latest and last installment, the critics’ ratings of the movie have dipped beyond repair. The TV Series, if you will, can be a reboot to the now ailing franchise and probably can revive the originally envisaged Transporter in a much more glorified way. Had these changes been done in the movie itself, there wouldn’t have been a need to “refuel” this transporter.

8. Step Up (2006-2014)

A film franchise strictly for the dance fanatics, I don’t see much of a difference between the ‘Step Up’ franchise and dance reality shows that are doing rounds on the TV nowadays. Though a related web-series is around the corner, ‘Step Up’ deserves a TV series sooner than the others. Not because of their “dance” thing, but because of the popularity it has garnered over the years and has made Hip-Hop and flash mob dances more popular and sought-after.

From a premise point of view, we only have the basics like an ace dancer who performs alongside upcoming dancers at a school or a group of rookies who are pitched against the best dancers out there. In short, all the installments are replete with dance duels and people contesting each other on hip hop, in streets and schools alike.

A TV series can surely explore more avenues of such dance forms and how can these be closely knitted to form a genuine coherent story, a change in direction from the currently shallow characterizations. Also, they could retain Channing Tatum in one way or the other.

9. Percy Jackson (2010-2013)

A rather passable two-movie franchise I must say, a bang opposite of its book, Percy Jackson has the potential to reach the heights of Harry Potter if you will. Something that was kickstarted by Chris Columbus, just like the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise, ‘Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief’ was able to recover the entirety of its budget within a short span of time. Also, given the teenage fantasy genre which it belongs to, we expected all the book-series being made into movies, which sadly didn’t happen until now.

The first installment can be split into three, if were made as a TV series,  one comprising the discovery that Percy Jackson is the son of Poseidon, followed by another with all the accusations and kidnappings and the third, the rescue and re-establishment as an innocent again respectively. Probably, with all the six books there are, Percy Jackson could kick some serious ass in teenage fantasy genre along with the currently similar TV series on-air, like ‘Teen Wolf’, ‘Shadowhunters’ et al.

Albeit less sexy and gory than GoT, I’d call the Percy Jackson’s tale a niche segment where no one has ventured into, at least for the televised format.

10. Twilight (2008-2012)

And perhaps the epitome of all movie franchise failures that is ‘Twilight’, it exemplifies of all the loopholes when a movie franchise is dragged unnecessarily to a very predictable and rather boring end. Not that ‘Twilight’ would’ve aced in the TV Series as well, but regardless, it is not your regular love triangle. Involving blood-sucking yet humane vampires and bare bodied wolves with nothing to lose, Twilight rides high from a premise point of view. What’s required is probably a major overhaul in each and every department – from visuals to performances and from screenwriting to cinematography and direction. Especially the CGI, I must say.

Commercially, though it is a fact that Twilight has been a huge success with over $3 billion in its box office collections and that it has some cult following, it still lacks the characteristics of a great movie franchise. Overall, Twilight as a TV Series can be more dramatic and refreshing, and probably a wee bit thrilling. hopefully, something that can induce some goose bumps whenever wolves confront vampires, dueling over a naive girl who fell in love with the most handsome fella in both of the clans, simultaneously. The question that remains is – will Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson reprise their roles as Bella and Edward in this one twisted helluva love story’s TV version?

11. Transformers (2007-2017)

One thing’s for sure – ‘Transformers’ was equally good as an animated TV series as it has stooped down with its action movie franchise. Probably one of the few mention-worthy movies of Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox initially, ‘Transformers’ failed to regain its so-called charm in its sequels that it had set up in the first couple of installments.

Though the popularity index came down rather rapidly, so did the box office collections and the performances of all the involved actors. ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ deserves a special mention, for having grossed more than a billion dollars, despite having a weaker script and overdone ‘Transformers’ moments throughout, among all the installments.

As a TV series, I am skeptical on the cast and crew or the effectiveness of the visual effects part, but one thing’s for sure – the popularity is definitely going to soar and swell like never before. Though a spinoff called ‘BumbleBee’ is on the cards, a TV series can work out way better for the franchise as a whole, unlike it could for the movie installments. Only if the trio of Michael Bay, Shia LaBeouf, and Megan Fox could come together again.

Read More: Best Fantasy Movies

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