Hollywood Swapping Reality TV for Film Reboots
With reality TV shows struggling to take off in recent seasons, it looks like Hollywood has officially found its newest small-screen trend: movie remakes. In the past several months, more than a dozen movie-to-television reboots and sequels have been announced at all of the major networks. The latest to join the growing list of upcoming shows based on films? CBS has given a pilot production commitment to Limitless, a TV series inspired by the 2011 action flick starring Bradley Cooper.
According to Deadline, Cooper will executive produce the CBS TV Studios project with producing partner Todd Phillips, alongside Alex K/O Paper Products’ Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Heather Kadin, as well as Relativity Television’s Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley, Andrew Marcus, Ray Ricord, and Tom Forman. The series will reportedly act as a sequel, picking up where the original film left off. It will follow Brian Sinclair, played in the initial movie by Cooper, after he takes the powerful new drug NZT and is forced to use his new drug-enhanced abilities for the greater good. The show will be written and executive produced by Craig Sweeney (Elementary); the film’s original director, Neil Burger, is reportedly on board to direct the pilot.
Per Deadline, Cooper first teamed up with Relativity to bring the movie to the small screen almost a year ago, but the project didn’t move forward at the time. Now that Limitless is officially in development, it will mark the first small-screen project for Cooper and Phillips’s newly formed production company.
Limitless is only the newest entry in a slew of feature film reboots headed to the television screen. CBS is also remaking Rush Hour and In Good Company, while Fox is reviving Monster-in-Law and Minority Report. NBC is heading remakes of Problem Child, Bewitched, Marley and Me, and Real Genius, and the CW is reportedly developing The Illusionist series. Children’s shows also aren’t exempt — Nickelodeon is bringing School of Rock to TV, and Sony Pictures Animation and DHX Media are adapting Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs into a kids’ series.
So why the sudden influx of new film-inspired television shows? Reusing ideas that have worked in the past isn’t exactly a new concept in Hollywood, but there could be another reason why TV show creators have been resorting to film remakes more and more in recent days. Reality shows, another once rapidly growing trend that has dominated television in the last few years, haven’t been faring as well as they once did, pushing more networks to return to original scripted content.
Of course, established reality shows like The Real Housewives, The Bachelor, and Survivor are still kicking, and even some more recent series like The Voice have become huge ratings hits. But overall, it seems audiences are growing tired of the concept and networks are getting the hint. Case in point? Fox recently canceled its pricy and much-hyped reality experiment Utopia after only a few weeks, even though it was originally meant to last an entire year.
Fox isn’t the only channel that failed to crack the reality show game after a big investment. AMC recently canceled all but two of its extensive slate of unscripted series and announced plans to once again make scripted programming its top priority. Even networks specifically known for their reality programming are now moving away from the genre. Bravo is launching its first original scripted show in December with Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce and E! is doing the same next year with The Royals. Meanwhile, WEtv is going the scary route, with new horror drama called South of Hell.
With this increasing pressure on its shoulders to create scripted shows, it’s clear Hollywood is looking to fill new needs quickly — and studios are looking to past feature films for inspiration. But with so many movie-to-television adaptations headed our way, it seems like this new small-screen trend could reach a point of over-saturation even faster than those that preceded it.