Adaptations can pop up anywhere. They’re popular. Studios love them because of the low risk involved. Audiences love them from familiarity. For all the complaints that there’s too many adaptations, the problem isn’t quantity but quality. No one complains about well done adaptations, just the sheer volume, yet adaptations have been ruling the box office since the box office began.
Adaptations can occur in two ways. First, there is the planned adaptation. Movies, TV series, and even Broadway musicals take time to create and produce, giving lead time for advertising the works. The other way is the surprise adaptation – a TV series with a seasonal take on A Christmas Carol, allusions to Shakespeare, recreating The Maltese Falcon, or even destroying Earth for a hyperspace bypass lane. These are seldom announced more than a week in advance in a TV series, and comes as a surprise for the audience. The surprise is greater when the adapting work is a car ad.
Let’s jump back a bit. Some time back, Lost in Translation analyzed the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon from the 80s. Six youngsters – Hank, Sheila and her younger brother Bobby, Diana, Eric, and Albert aka Presto – go on a D&D-theme roller coaster ride at a fair and wide up transported into a magical realm where they must battle against Venger, the Force of Evil, and Tiamat, Queen of the Evil Chromatic Dragons. Over three seasons and twenty-seven episodes, the heroes battled evil while trying to find a way home. The series ended without resolution, the kids still trapped in the magical realm.
Recently, Renault Brazil released an ad that resolved that cliffhanger after 34 years. Have a look.
The car ad is a live action adaptation of the /D&D/ cartoon. The characters are recognizable, not just from magical items and costumes, but their look. The ad has all the main characters, the kids, Uni, Venger, Tiamat, and Dungeon Master. Even the setting reflects the look of the realm in the cartoon.
With older works, especially ones originally aimed at children, there’s the temptation to use the “wink-and-a-nod” approach, treating the original as a source or even the butt of jokes. Land of the Lost, the 2009 movie starring Will Farrell, is a prime example. The ad makers, though, treated the source seriously. The ad comes across as the climax of the two-part series finale, complete with sequel hook for the inevitable movie. All of the kids get a chance to show their abilities. Better, they got home. A car ad provides closure for a thirty-four year old story.
What did the ad’s makers get right? The cast is recognizable. The first shot is of Hank, which may trigger a sense of recognition of the older fans of the original series. When he pulls back on his magical bow and takes aime at Tiamat, there’s no mistaking what’s going on. Next, production values. CGI has come a long way since the 2000 Dungeons & Dragons movie. Tiamat has a presence on screen, and her five heads are accurate to the chromatic dragons of D&D. Uni has a cartoon quality, but does look like she did in the series. The costumes, combined with casting, mean that everyone is recognizable. The characters are live action version of their animated originals.
The only real problem the ad has is brevity. Its length works in its favour; the cost of a 1:45 ad, even with the special effects needed, isn’t going to empty a bank account. At the same time, though, it does leave fans wanting more. The ad is just a snippet of the long-awaited series finale, with a sequel hook. Some advertising campaigns have led to a series of ads, though very few have had an ongoing storyline. The best known series of ads with a story was for Taster’s Choice coffee, featuring Anthony Stewart Head and Sharon Maughan as their characters’ romance bloomed over twelve installments. So a revival of the D&D cartoon as live action car ads is a very slim possibility. As it stands, though, the ad is enough to reignite the fandom.
It’s been a busy month in the world of adaptations. Steve already mentioned the new Harry Potter-verse movie being scripted by JK Rowling herself. Here’s the rest of the news.
Daniel Curry, who plays one of the nine Spider-Men in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was injured during a performance. The Broadway show cost $75 million to put on and has seen a number of injuries amongst the actors. The show has also put out a casting call to replace Reeve Carney, who has played Peter Parker since 2010.
Rambo to become TV series?
Entertainment One and Nu Image are working with Sylvester Stallone to develop a Rambo TV series. No network has signed on yet, and the project could turn into the fifth Rambo movie. There’s a chance that Stallone would return as the titular character as well as being the creative consultant. Rambo may not be the only movie adapted as a TV series…
Reality Bites being adapted for TV series.
Ben Stiller, who directed the original movie, is on board as executive producer of the TV series, as is Helen Childress, who wrote the script for the original. The TV series will follow Lelaina Pierce, originally portrayed by Winona Ryder, after graduation in the 1990s, following the events of the movie. Keep in mind that, during the closing credits of the movie, it is revealed that Michael Grates, played by Stiller, turned the relationship he had with Lelaina into a TV show.
Star Wars: Episode VII to be shot on film.
Unlike Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, the next Star Wars installment will be on film instead of digital cameras. Film allows for a different approach, including getting the feel of the original movie and the addition of lens flares. If Episode VII goes 3D, it’ll have to be converted after being filmed.
Matt Damon returning as Bourne?
Damon and Paul Greengrass could be returning for a new Bourne movie. Damon has said that he’d be back if Greengrass was. Meanwhile, Jeremy Renner is still slated to be in a sequel to Bourne Legacy. No word if the two movies will merge or if the two streams will crossover.
Sharktopus sequel wraps up production.
Sharktopus vs. Mermantula brings back the shark-octopus hybrid that terrorized a Carribbean beach resort. This time around, Sharktopus has to deal with Mermantual, a failed experiment in creating the perfect man. Roger Corman, producer of this epic, has also opened “Corman’s Drive-In” on YouTube as an archive of the 400 movies he and his wife have produced.
Terminator 5 in pre-production.
Alan Taylor, director of Thor: The Dark World, is in talks to direct the fifth movie in the Terminator franchise. T5 is the start of a stand-alone trilogy of movies in the Terminator setting. However…
Terminator rights return to James Cameron in 2019.
A change in copyright laws changed the length of time before rights return to the creator to 35 years. The current licensees, Megan and David Ellison of Skydance Productions picked up the rights to make three movies, but the time limit may lead to just two. Cameron could license the rights back if he chooses to do so.
Speaking of Cameron, Avatar to get three sequels.
The three movies will be shot simultaneously. Tapped for screenwriting are Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Shane Saerno (Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem). Release dates are already set for December of 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Bradley Cooper to play Rocket Raccoon.
Cooper joins Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio del Toro, and John C. Reilly in the cast.
World of Warcraft movie to film in Vancouver.
If Azeroth looks familiar, it’s because Vancouver and environs have been seen in many, many movies and TV series, doubling for such exotic locations as Caprica, Starling City, Storybrook, Maine, and every planet seen in the Stargate TV series.
50 Shades of Grey gets cast named.
Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam have been cast as the leads to the movie adaptation of the Twilight fanfic. 50 Shades is due out in 2014. However…
Fans aren’t happy about the casting choices.
They want the actors EL James used as models for her characters, Alexis Bledel and Mat Bomer, and have set up a Change.org petition. What, they don’t want Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson?
Stargate to get reboot trilogy of movies.
Roland Emmerich, the director of the original Stargate movie, is rebooting the movie franchise. He originally wanted a trilogy of movies the first time round, but MGM went with a Stargate SG-1 instead. Fan reaction will be mixed and heated.
DiCaprio producing The Island of Dr. Moreau.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s company will produce the sixth adaptation of the HG Wells novel about a geneticist running amok and playing God.
Blade Runner sequel in the works.
After over 30 years, Blade Runner may be getting a sequel. Hampton Fancher, who contributed to the original screenplay, and Ridley Scott will be on the project. The script is being rewritten by Michael Green, who worked on the Green Lantern script.
Dwayne Johnson is The Fall Guy.
The old Lee Majors TV series about a bounty hunting stunt man is being remade as a film, helmed by McG. Production has not yet started. Any guesses on what the next old TV series to be remade as a movie?
Anne of Green Gables musical adaptation looking for Canadian filmmaker.
Based on the popular children’s novel, the musical is to be filmed on location in PEI. No release date has been set. Line ups in Tokyo should start the moment one is announced.
Ant-Man rescheduled for Summer 2015.
The release date for /Ant-Man/ has been moved up from November to July, 2015. This places the hero who, in the main Marvel universe, created Ultron almost three months behind the killer robot’s debut in The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Cracked.com covers why remakes don’t work.
A Quick-Fix, but hits several major points. Point #2 is particularly relevant – relevance. Many works are a product of their time and don’t adjust well to modern sensibilities. Not covered, lack of respect for the original work.
Dungeons & Dragons film faces court challenge.
Not from fans of the game who saw the original movie, but from Sweetpea Entertainment. Univsersal Pictures received the D&D license from Hasbro, current owners of Wizards of the Coast, publisher of the RPG. Sweetpea alleges that they had received the D&D license in perpetuity in 1994, when the third edition of the game was released. The timeline given in the story is off; WotC signed the original 1994 licensing agreement, whatever the terms were, and Hasbro purchased WotC in 1999. Looks like many lawyers are going to get experience to level up in this case.
Fourth Jurassic Park sequel given release date.
Universal Pictures has until June 12, 2015 to make Jurassic World, already slated to be in 3D.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes to be delayed.
With the first of the trilogy, City of Bones a financial flop, the second movie is having its release delayed. The film is in production and will add Sigourney Weaver to the cast. Not helping the movies is that the books never reached the mindspace of the general audience that Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games had. Most people, even if they haven’t read any of Twilight could name several characters. The Mortal Instruments doesn’t even have that.