27 Films That Need A TV Spin-Off
The Krays (1990)
The Film: Solid gangster biopic centred on the notorious Kray twins, starring pop star siblings Gary and Martin Kemp.
The Spin-off: The story’s a bigger draw than the existing film – a period crime drama set in the a swirling London of the sixties, with the Krays maintaining their seedy empire in the backroom while mixing with MPs and socialites out front.
The Cast: James and Oliver Phelps. Don’t make that face – the Potter franchise is finished, and they were consistently the best thing in it. The switch from light relief to sinister drama would be the making of them.
The Film: Supernatural comedy from the Saturday Night Live school that made Bill Murray a star and made an enormous amount of money.
The Spin-off: A third film has been spluttering without starting for years, and a TV series would provide more space to introduce our new generation of Busters and still give room for the occasional cameo. The bottom line: it’s about funny guys in suits shooting ghosts in gothic New York.
The Cast: A mix of NY cynicism and SNL veterans: Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Adam Samberg and, if it looks like it’s not getting commissioned any other way, Tracy Morgan.
Wall Street (1987)
The Film: Oliver Stone’s iconic power-suited capitalist juggernaut, that encapsulated the greed-is-good eighties and has spawned an imminently-arriving sequel.
The Spin-off: Avoiding a clash with the new film, this would follow original hero Buddy after his break from Gordon Gekko as he works his way through the financial world alone. It’s a Mad Men for the eighties – about power and culture and sitting in offices drinking scotch while your soul burns with despair.
The Cast: Milo Ventimiglia as the right ability, earnestness and – crucially – hair to pull it off.
The Film: Touching, verging-on-taboo tale of a lone assassin who adopts a young girl when her family is killed, and trains her how to be a professional killer.
The Spin-off: What happens when Mathilde grows up – Léon’s protégé comes of age and takes up the cleaning business, making hits and pulling jobs from week to week.
The Cast: Evangeline Lilly is the right age and the right mix of gorgeous and physically capable.
The Film: Martin Scorsese’s last mob epic, a glittering look at the mafia control of the gambling trade in Vegas in the glamorous heyday of the seventies.
The Spin-off: A more focused look at the same period. We know what eventually happens to the main players, but the day-to-day management of the casino – relationships with the bosses, political movements, fights with rival operations – would lend a Sopranos-like complexity to events.
The Cast: David Strathairn would fit very nicely into De Niro’s role of Ace Rothstein, and Kevin Pollack’s go for Joe Pesci’s Nicky Santoro. Plus he can do an awesome Christopher Walken impression, should the situation demand it.
Fight Club (1999)
The Film: Searing end-of-millennium satire adapted from Chuck Palahniuk’s book, about the disconnected softness of modern living and a generation of angry young men channelling their vitriol into fighting and terrorism.
The Spin-off: A combination of two things: an aftermath for the narrator character (Fight Club is a film of many questions and few answers) which would also work as an opportunity to film more of Palahniuk’s wry leftfield takes on modern consumerist us (Choke, Survivors).
The Cast: Ed Norton is irreplaceable is the narrator – in our entirely unrealistic minds we’re pitching this as a 6-part HBO special with insanely high production values, so he’s actually in our price range.
Starship Troopers (1997)
The Film: Paul Verhoeven’s bawdy genius sci-fi propaganda, based on Robert A. Heinlein’s novel. It’s an intergalactic bug hunt, with the world transformed into a military war machine to fight our alien enemies.
The Spin-off: Unlike the existing animated series, we’re thinking live action Band Of Brothers In Space With Extra Gore And Over The Top Emotional Bits.
The Cast: Neil Patrick Harris and Casper Van Dien in cameo roles, and a new leader for the Roughnecks in the shape of Lucas Black.
The Thin Red Line (1998)
The Film: Terrence Malick’s first movie for 20 years was a beautifully shot super-ensemble piece, with the finest male leads in Hollywood queuing to appear in the introspective and thoughtful war film.
The Spin-off: The film defies narrative – Malick famously films hours and hours or footage and cut several stars from the piece altogether. Transfer the philosophical treatment of war to a small, high-quality serial and the rhythm would suddenly make sense, the characters would have room to breathe.
The Cast: By it’s nature it needs a large and strong cast, but it would be perfect for the likes of John Hamm and Dominic West.
La Haine (1995)
The Film: Urgent and powerful black and white drama set during a series of riots in the estates surrounding Paris. Towerblock kids turn over cars and confront police as our three heroes travel across the city.
The Spin-off: Similar to the transition from City Of God to spin-off City Of Men – the same city and setting told in a similar style, but mixing new characters with old.
The Cast: Unknowns and amateurs would give the series the same sharp kick as the original film.
Monsters Vs Aliens (2009)
The Film: Dreamworks’ best animated film yet – a tribute to the Universal monsters of the golden era with a giant woman, a swamp thing, a cockroach and a blob doing battle against an evil mastermind alien.
The Spin-off: The further adventures of the newly-formed super monster group. We’re thinking 15-minute Saturday morning episodes featuring battles against giant apes, underwater civilisation and, uh, more aliens.
The Cast: Well, they’d look the same, so we’d be paying the most expensive casting agents in Hollywood to find us people who sound exactly like Seth Rogen, Reese Witherspoon and all.
Boogie Nights (1997)
The Film: A grand-sweep piece of storytelling which tracks the changes to the porn industry in the late seventies with the emergence of VHS, starring Mark Wahlberg as the rising and falling Dirk Diggler.
The Spin-off: The film is so brilliantly of its time that there’s an inherent interest to finding out where the characters are down the line – specifically, during the late nineties as the internet transforms the industry once more.
The Cast: For Dirk Diggler we’re going with Donnie Wahlberg – older, sadder and basically better at acting than brother Mark – and as the female lead Sasha Grey, who impressed with similar material in Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience.
The Damned United (2009)
The Film: Biopic of the unique genius/mad egocentric football manager Brian Clough showing his years at Derby before his torrid spell at Leeds.
The Spin-off: The Nottingham Forest years. Picking up where the film left off, the series would follow Clough at his new job at Nottingham Forest, the club he would take from the old second division to double European cup success.
The Cast: It doesn’t work without Michael Sheen, and for Forest and England keeping legend Peter Shilton we’d have Andrew Lincoln.
The Film: Hammett-strength hard-boiled detective thriller set in a middle-class high school and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt
The Spin-off: The setting and the heavy noir patter would fuel at least one season’s worth of plot, and our hook would see Gordon-Levitt’s hero Brendan missing, with a fresh-faced younger student investigating.
The Cast: For the key role we’d have… Haley Joel Osment. He’s young enough to play high school, has shown he’s insanely talented, and has the weird edge needed to make the wise-cracking loner work.
Withnail & I (1986)
The Film: Cult comedy classic set in 1969 London, with two out-of-work and on-the-sauce actors deciding to take a holiday in the country.
The Spin-off: A meeting in later life between the two one-time friends – a successful “I” producing a new play in which Withnail lands a supporting part, leading to a rekindling of their friendship and ensuing disaster.
The Cast: Set the show in the early nineties and original cast members Paul McGann and Richard E Grant are perfect for their old roles.
28 Days Later (2002)
The Film: Danny Boyle’s brutal apocalyptic super-zombie horror, with a handful of survivors creeping through deserted streets avoiding the now mostly psychotic ex-population.
The Spin-off: The scope is huge – a worldwide epidemic could see the story shift from city to city on a weekly basis, with a voiceover providing continuity and plenty of room for guest stars.
The Cast: A different story every week would mean no room for stars, but that’s OK – the impact of the first film came from the use of unknowns anyway.
The Third Man (1949)
The Film: All time great British thriller starring Joseph Cotton as the American writer looking for his mysterious friend Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles, in post-war Vienna.
The Spin-off: Following the film Welles voiced 52 episodes of a prequel series for radio called The Adventures Of Harry Lime, which tracked the debonair con man’s narrow escapes across Europe and would form the basis of an excellent series.
The Cast: The whole reason we included this in the first place – apart from the fact the film’s zither music is amazing – is so we could say Danny Huston should totally, absolutely play Harry Lime. Not only do they have THE SAME FACE, but the actor played Welles himself in the 2006 thriller Fade To Black.
The Birds (1963)
The Film: The nearest Hitchock came to making a supernatural thriller, this adaptation of a Daphne Du Maurier short story has man coming up against the chaotic horror of nature, as birds start freaking the heck out for no reason.
The Spin-off: The movie is wonderfully open-ended, with Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor driving away down the coast as scores of birds perch and watch menacingly. The series would be a Lost-style series of survival and searching for meaning behind the attacks.
The Cast: Matthew Fox has the broad jaw and decency of a Hitchcock hero, while Lost co-star Elizabeth Mitchell has the right piercing looks and air of capability to replace Hedren.
The Omega Man (1971)
The Film: The best adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend has Charlton Heston as the last man on earth, roaming empty streets by day and barricading himself in against the mutant hordes at night.
The Spin-off: At the close of the film Charlton Heston does a big Jesus by offering up his blood to save human kind in the form of a serum. The survivors then leave town – the series would show their journey across America, trying to stop the disease and save the world.
The Cast: The usual band of spunky young things, but with one imperative – Matt Dillon must play the new leader of the group as a moder-day Heston figure.
The Lord Of The Rings (2001)
The Film: Peter Jackson’s mammoth fantasy trilogy that did full, unexpected justice to Tolkien’s classic books.
The Spin-off: Tolkien sketched out a huge world and mythology to prop up the headline stories of Middle-earth, and there’s more than enough here for a series. The final part of The Silmarillion (opens in new tab) provides the basis for an era-spanning history covering everything from the origins of Sauron to his re-emergence between The Hobbit and the central trilogy. Yes please.
The Cast: There’s some latitude here as Tolkien has offered only a sketch of these events. We’d have the now older and wiser Stuart Townsend – famously ditched as Aaragorn the day before filming on Jackon’s films – back to play ring-blunderer Isildur, and Kevin McKidd as anyone at all because he’s amazing, especially with a sword.
The Film: James Cameron’s retooling of what had been a straight horror film into what remains the gold standard for off-world action movies.
The Spin-off: There’s an Aliens: Colonial Marines videogame in the works, and this could be the televisual equivalent – a group of hard-ass space marines dropping into colonies and battling xenomorphs weekly.
The Cast: Michael K Williams and Nathan Fillion. Williams needs another top role to sink his teeth into following the end of Omar and The Wire, and Fillion can do both action and comedy and really needs to get himself back into space already.
LA Confidential (1997)
The Film: The accomplished adaptation of James Ellroy’s dark 1950s-set tale of Hollywood vice and police corruption.
The Spin-off: A pilot (opens in new tab) was made in 2003 with Keifer Sutherland but never picked up. This would be different – think The Wire: 1950s. The characters and setup of the original have that level of complexity – it’s just a matter of extending the plot past the end of the novel.
The Cast: Justin Theroux in the place of Guy Pearce as the bookish Ed Exley, and Eric Bana to replace Russell Crowe as muscle man Bud White.
The Film: You may have heard of this British-based spy series before – long story short, it features a fancy ex-naval type travelling the world on Her Majesty’s Service and generally either killing people or being super smooth.
The Spin-off: With MGM’s refinancing throwing the film series into temporary confusion, we’d love to see a small-screen spin-off returning to the more refined cold war spy setups of the Connery era: tweed jackets, sleeper carriages, cobbled Eastern European streets.
The Cast: Following his turn in Inglourious Basterds, Michael Fassbender would be our pick for a more old-fashioned 007.
Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
The Film: The zombie apocalypse comes to middle-class thirtysomething suburbia, as Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright come up trumps with a British comedy classic.
The Spin-off: The apocalypse is over, so without cheapening the end of the film there’s no way to bring it back. But – there are plenty of parallel stories to tell, like what happened to the fellow survivors Shaun and crew meet on the way to The Winchester.
The Cast: Ready made: Jessica Hynes, Reece Shearsmith, Martin Freeman and Tamsin Greig.
Mulholland Drive (2001)
The Film: David Lynch’s twisting strip of Hollywood dreams and nightmares, with an amnesiac mystery at its core that wraps around itself rather than unfurling to a solution.
The Spin-off: Lynch’s best film (yes it is) started as a pilot for ABC before being refocused and restructured as the existing film. We basically want the original pitch – a troubled star with no memory, hunted by dangerous men, teaming up with a starry-eyed newcomer to investigate her life and the town behind it.
The Cast: The key parts are Lara Harring’s thick-lipped femme fatale – we’d have the lush, dangerous Christina Hendricks – and Naomi Watts’ Cinderella hopeful, who we’d have played by the still impossibly young Hayden Panettiere.
Children Of Men (2006)
The Film: Intelligent near-future dystopia in which mankind has inexplicably stopped producing children and the end of humanity looms large.
The Spin-off: The film ends on a muted high note as a new child is born, amid the war and desperation. But what happens next – where does the child go? Are there more children? Can mankind recover – is up for grabs.
The Cast: Clive Owen was perfect as the gruff, reluctant hero, but now his character’s gone we’d have shouty, beardy, righteous Trevor Eve as the protagonist and grumpy saviour of everyone.
The Film: Christopher Nolan’s tightly conceived and highly stylish maze of dream heists and executive crime.
The Spin-off: Stealing the basic premise and rules of the world – the architect, the totem, the kick – the series would follow a different team of dream hijackers working for new clients and breaking into new minds each episode.
The Cast: We hear DiCaprio’s probably busy, but the ideas are so strong a new conflicted team leader would work too. We’d have Christian Slater – a great edgy presence with a career ripe for a strong second act.
The Film: Era-defining work surging with drugs and youth and energy that tells the story of a group of friends taking heroin and living life in low-rent Edinburgh estates.
The Spin-off: There’s a ready made, mini-series length sequel in the shape of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting sequel, Porno, which zeroes in on the characters ten years after the original.
The Cast: The toughest bit, as Danny Boyle has found out while trying to make a film of Porno, is that you’d need the now very successful cast to commit. The good news? McGregor’s last few big films have all been a bit rubbish.