How Tom Hanks’ ‘Cast Away’ Accidentally Inspired a Hit TV Show

Tom Hanks has starred in some of the most popular films of the past few decades. The two-time Academy Award winner carried thrillers, comedies, dramas, and every in between. He’s even on occasion been known to voice a certain string-puppet cowboy doll, much to the delight of audiences the world over. Hanks has such charisma that moviegoers everywhere flocked to see him hang out on an island by himself in 2000’s Cast Away. But most probably don’t realize that film inspired a hugely popular television show.

Tom Hanks washed up on the beach of an island in a scene from the 2000 film 'Cast Away'
Tom Hanks in ‘Cast Away’ | 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

Tom Hanks’ ‘Cast Away’ rocked the box office in 2000

Reuniting with Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis probably wasn’t a difficult decision for Hanks. After all, that film earned hundreds of millions at the domestic box office way back in 1994. But few probably expected the filmmaker and his star to turn their attention to a story about a FedEx employee who winds up stranded on a deserted island.

Yet, against all odds, Cast Away became a sensation. On a reported $90 million production budget, the movie earned $430 million worldwide. Hanks even received an Academy Award nomination for his performance, though his co-star Wilson was snubbed for Best Supporting Volleyball.

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The movie led to the creation of ABC’s hit show ‘Lost’

Of course, Hollywood would want to capitalize on the success of Cast Away in some way. Plans for a TV series inspired by the Zemeckis film never truly got off the ground. However, they later evolved into a pitch for a series called Nowhere, according to Chicago Magazine. That seed of an idea eventually grew into what would become the hit TV series Lost.

That show followed the survivors of an airplane crash who find themselves trapped on a mysterious island. And for six seasons, viewers came back week after week to learn more about the seemingly supernatural forces at play on Lost. The series — which ran from 2004 to 2010 — featured an ensemble cast that included Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Terry O’Quinn, and Jorge Garcia.

TV shows based on Tom Hanks’ movies never really work

Perhaps it’s for the best that a Cast Away show never got off the ground. Hollywood has tried numerous times to adapt the actor’s films for TV. And that idea never worked. Shows based on Bachelor Party and Big never happened either. Even the recent Disney+ series Turner and Hooch — based on Hanks’ 1989 movie of the same name — was canceled after a single season.

Even though Hanks first shot to stardom on TV’s Bosom Buddies, his movies are usually so dependent on his own on-screen charisma to exist without his involvement. Such is certainly the case in Cast Away, as the movie is a one-man show for much of its runtime. And it worked out for fans of ABC’s Lost, which went a radically different direction with a similar premise.

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