Westworld (and five other films that would make great TV series)
Author, screenwriter and director Michael Crichton is probably best-known to most as the man responsible for dreaming up the concepts behind Jurassic Park and its many sequels, but last year it was one of his earlier and less well-known ideas that became the subject of HBO's latest hit series. Created by Interstellar writer Jonathan Nolan, Pushing Daises writer Lisa Joy and J.J. Abrams, Westworld takes the concept behind Crichton's 1973 film of the same name and spins it into a 10-episode debut series that has had audiences glued to their screens.
The show's first season stars Anthony Hopkins as Robert Ford, the co-creator of a futuristic theme park populated by lifelike androids where holidaymakers can live out their wildest fantasies in the wild west, safe in the knowledge that no real harm can come to them no matter how many bar room brawls and gunfights they get themselves into. But not everything is at it seems and when some of the robots begin to malfunction, the park's technicians discover changes the source code that controls them, leading them to believe that somebody is tampering with the robots, but unsure of their motives.
When two visitors named William and Logan arrive at the park, William finds himself becoming infatuated with Dolores, one of the park's oldest androids, and begins to suspect that there may be more to their hosts -and the park - than meets the eye.
Fearing that Ford has too much control over his creations, Westworld's board of directors begin scheming to either force him to retire or remove him from his position, but Ford has his own ideas about how to end his tenure at the park he created and when it transpires that his robots' artificial intelligence might not be as artificial as they thought, all hell looks set to break loose.
Featuring an impressive cast that includes Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, Luke Hemsworth and James Marsden, the first season of Westworld was a huge hit with audiences and, after a long wait, the second season made its debut on TV screens this weekend.
You can find a trailer for the new season of Westworld below, beneath that we've picked out five other films with the potential to be spun into a gripping TV series...
Along with V for Vendetta, Watchmen is probably the most iconic of the graphic novels written by English author Alan Moore and despite the fact that Moore and co-writer Dave Gibbons sold the rights to adapt their work for the big screen in 1986, it would take more than 20 years to finally arrive in cinemas. As with pretty much every screen adaptation of his work, Moore was quick to disown the film that finally emerged under Zack Snyder's direction in 2009, but Snyder wasn't the first to struggle with the challenge of cramming a 338-page comic book into a two-hour film. Previously, 12 Monkeys director Terry Gilliam had been attached to direct, but after several script revisions and challenges raising the budget he felt was necessary to make the film work, Gilliam abandoned the project after deciding that condensing Watchmen into one film was unworkable.
Gilliam had also suggested that Watchmen could only work as a TV series, and whether or not you're a fan if Snyder's adaptation, we'd argue that Gilliam had a point. Given a decent budget and enough room to properly explore the book's many characters, a Watchmen TV series has all the potential to be a classic and, with the right choice or director, maybe even one that could finally secure Alan Moore's approval.
Although it wasn't a huge box office hit, this 2004 film written and directed by Shane Carruth earned plenty of praise from critics and picked up the Grand Jury Prize at that year's Sundance Film Festival for its premise of two engineers who accidentally discover a working mechanism for time travel. Building a woking prototype big enough to contain a human subject, the pair conduct experiments that allow one of them to travel six hours into their own past, which they then use to their advantage by making lucrative same-day trades on the stock market, armed with the advanced knowledge of how their stocks will perform, this making them a lot of money.
The film's unusual plot structure divided audiences somewhat, with some finding the structure difficult to follow, but what's intriguing about the film is the realistic characters and they way they react to and use their invention, as well as all the consequences their success brings with it. Extending the idea over several episodes could offer more time to explore a highly original take on a well-worn sci-fi trope and it's a TV series we'd definitely want to see.
The Golden Compass
As one of the best-selling and most revered series of novels of the 20th century, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is ripe for adaptation and things looked promising when director Chris Weitz succeeded in securing a deal to adapt the first book in the series, Northern Lights (retitled in North America as The Golden Compass). With some excellent casting choices – particularly Nicole Kidman's icy Miss Coulter and Daniel Craig's gnarly Lord Asriel – and with Lord of the Rings breaking box office records, The Golden Compass looked like a surefire hit.
But there were problems. Fearful that the anti-religious themes would be unpalatable to American audiences, Weitz removed specific references and allegories to God and the Catholic church, a decision which critics described variously as 'castrating' and 'removing the soul' from the story. To add to the film's woes, and despite the changes Weitz made, the Catholic church wasn't happy either and called for a boycott of the film, both of which contributed to poor performance at the box office and the cancellation of two planned sequels.
Reframed as a TV series, however, His Dark Materials may stand a better chance of success. It would take some bravery to be faithful to the original story, but with three novels and companion trilogy, The Book of Dust, already underway, there's heaps of source material to work with.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
If you don't know who Chuck Barris is, you'll probably be familiar with at least some of his work, in one form or another. Barris carved out a career for himself as a TV producer in the 1970s and is best-known as the creator of The Dating Game and The Gong Show – the former adapted years later in the UK as Blind Date, the latter a kind of forerunner to Britain's Got Talent. However, it's not so much his TV career that forms the basis of George Clooney's 2002 film, based on Barris' memoir of the same name, but his claim that during that time he was also working as an assassin for the CIA, using his role as a chaperone for young couples on romantic getaways as cover for as many as 33 assassinations.
Right up until his death in March this year, Barris refused to confirm or deny whether the claims in his book were really true – and obviously the agency was quick to rubbish his claims – but while Clooney's directorial debut is a hugely entertaining account of Barris' claims, the concept is one with potential to work as a series and with a supposed 33 missions to cover, it'd be worth at least a couple of seasons. A left-field choice, for sure, but have you ever seen anything quite like that on TV? No, us neither.
Anyone who has watched the fascinating documentary Jodorwsky's Dune will know just how difficult it was to bring Frank Herbert's sci-fi epic to the big screen and even though David Lynch took a decent swing at it with his 1984 adaptation, the film was a commercial disappointment and one which many fans felt tried to condense too much into a two-hour film. Just like Watchmen, the source material is dense and complex, making and film adaptation a challenge, but with the right director and a hefty budget Dune could make one hell of a TV series.
If it were up to us, having seen some of Jodorowsky's designs for his version of the film, we'd be happy to hand the Chilean director a bucketload of cash to create his vision. If you still need persuading, we can't recommend Frank Pavich's documentary highly enough.