NBC’s “Hannibal” Adaptation Inspires Other Potential Film-to-TV Adaptations

by Alex Greenberger


Fans of the 1991 thriller film “The Silence of the Lambs” are in luck. The film’s psychopathic Hannibal Lecter (made famous in a role by Anthony Hopkins) is returning. But he won’t be returning to the big screen—rather, he’ll be making his television debut.

NBC recently announced that the network has picked up “Hannibal,” a series based on an FBI agent’s search to find the criminal mastermind. The series looks promising, as it is being penned by “Pushing Daisies” and “Heroes” visionary Bryan Fuller. With “Hannibal” likely poised for success, it is interesting to consider what other notable film releases would make for successful television adaptations.

“Chronicle,” a found-footage film that recently exceeded expectations at the box office, has an excellent format for a TV show. Telling the story of three teenage boys who are struck with super powers, “a “Chronicle” series could be similar to “Heroes,” in the way that it presents real people struggling with super abilities. But unlike “Heroes,” “Chronicle” would focus only on the three boys as their powers help them come-of-age in high school. Plus, if “The River” is any proof, found-footage formats can work on television.

Another characteristic working in “Chronicle’s” favor is that it is youth-centric, as a young audience is becoming increasingly in-demand by networks. With this logic, the 1985 teen classic “The Breakfast Club” would make for a fitting TV series. While the movie followed a group of teenagers in Saturday detention, the TV show would follow the characters once they leave detention. Adapting a 1980s nostalgic style, in the vein of “Freaks and Geeks,” a “Breakfast Club” series would be a bold move, but could appeal to all demographics—men, women, young, old.

Interestingly enough, the creator of “Freaks and Geeks” is Paul Feig, director of the critical and box office smash “Bridesmaids.” Having shown talent in both mediums, Feig could easily adapt his Oscar-nominated film to the small screen, as television is currently being dominated by well-written comedies. The show could follow the “bridesmaids” after the wedding, though bringing back the same fiery cast would be tricky. Many of the actresses are currently bound to TV series, with Kristen Wiig on “Saturday Night Live” and Melissa McCarthy on “Mike & Molly.”

However, it may be time for networks to start getting edgy. The outrageous “American Horror Story” brought massive ratings for FX, while AMC’s daring “Breaking Bad” has lured a strong fan and critical following. Perhaps a network should consider adapting David Lynch’s haunting, twisted 2001 drama “Mulholland Dr.” The film was originally conceived as a pilot for ABC, but was ultimately rejected. Focusing on an actress who embraces the dark side of Hollywood, “Mulholland’s” glimpse into show business would make a perfect TV series, especially in the wake of “Smash’s” popularity.

So while a Hannibal Lecter-based series is certainly an intriguing premise, it’s important for the networks to realize that there is plenty of other inspiration to be found in film. Adaptations that may have seemed ridiculous in the past make perfect sense today. If networks are struggling for ratings, perhaps the answer could be found by looking in their own Hollywood backyard.

Alex Greenberger is a staff writer. Email him at entertainment@nyunews.com.


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