‘Barbarella’ and Five Other Odd Movie-To-TV Adaptations On The Horizon

By January 22, 2014


It really is an interesting time for television programming. While I’m not sure we can technically still consider this the “Second Golden Age” when speaking of TV, the methods in which these stories are being told and delivered to the audiences are evolving. The business models are evolving as well, and with these changes come new trends – and recycled ones, too. The once popular mini-series concept has made a comeback, live musicals have found a home on NBC, and movie properties seem to have found new life in television reboots.

The latest “reboot” to find life in television is “Barbarella.” I know. I had to do a double take on this one. The original Barbarella has years of cult status under its belt. For those not in the know (shame on you), Barbarella started as a French comic book based about a sexually liberated woman who went around bumping uglies with aliens. Then the movie starring Jane Fonda came out and caused a bit of scandal in its day for its subject matter (…and cheesiness?). And since the current trends apparently dictate everything, “Barbarella” will now be an Amazon TV series and Nicolas Winding Refn is the man behind the project.

Wait, what?

Refn, the man behind films like Valhalla Rising and Drive, is executive producing the show alongside Martha De Laurentiis (Dino’s wife) for Amazon Studios. There’s even a strong possibility he could direct the pilot. Geez, add a punchy Ryan Gosling into the mix, and I’m sold!


Now look, I’m still having a hard time taking this news seriously as Barbarella was one silly film. Having Refn attached gives me the notion that this may be a reboot of a dark and more serious tone. Yet, Mr. Refn has spent a good chunk of his time trying to remake some classic sci-fi movies, like Logan’s Run and Westworld (which is in development at HBO), and “Barbarella” may indeed be the change of pace he’s been looking for.

Gaumont International Television is the company behind the show. You may not know them by name but they are behind “Hannibal” on NBC (yay!) and “Hemlock Grove” on Netflix (boo!). It’s pretty safe to say the pilot for “Barbarella” will be featured in Amazon’s upcoming pilot season. As you’ll remember, “Alpha House” and “Betas” came out of their inaugural pilot season last year which featured that awful attempt at rebooting “Zombieland” for TV. 

So while we’re on the topic of TV series in development based on feature films, here are five more that are currently in the works.



The 1990 film that made making pottery sexy, as well as making Whoopie Goldberg an Academy Award winning actress, is being developed into a TV series by the geniuses over at Paramount. It seems it’s being (has been?) written by Akiva Goldsman (“Fringe,” Batman & Robin) and Jeff Pinkner (“Fringe,” “LOST”). Given the productions these two have worked on, the question is what the tone will be of this new “Ghost” show. At any rate, this is the first project to come out of Paramount’s resurrected television division. Here’s hoping it’s worth their time.

From Dusk Till Dawn


Stupid stupid stupid. That’s what I think of this one. Look, I get it. You’re Robert Rodriguez. You brought multiple From Dusk Till Dawn sequels into the world. And now you’re bringing The El Rey Network to television. So, why not bring a property to the small screen everyone is familiar with? And vampires are, like, so in right now.

Rodriguez was recently quoted on New York Daily in saying, “I thought this would be a great way to introduce an audience to a network with a name that was known. And there was so much that I wanted to explore in that movie that I didn’t get to because when I’d first gotten Quentin’s script, it took place in this bar in Mexico. And I delved a little deeper into Mesoamerican mythologies and Aztec and Mayan mythologies and where a vampire culture could have existed back then and found fascinating stuff. So I really wanted to go back and enrich that whole experience.”

But, I call bullsh*t. Why? Well, for one, witches are really what’s in right now. And two, just look at this horrendous trailer that was released for the upcoming series. And to think he was once attached to the movie remake of Barbarella.

The Money Pit


From writer-producer Justin Spitzer (“The Office”) comes a series based on the 1986 Tom Hanks comedy about a couple who buy a…uh…well…money pit. I’m not quite sure how one can milk a series out of the movie’s idea but, hell, a series based on The Hand That Rocks The Cradle  is in the works over at ABC Family and I’ve got nothing but a dumbfounded blank stare to give as my retort.

Flirting With Disaster


Back in December, The Weinsteins made an announcement that they had struck a multi-year deal with Miramax to co-produce and co-distribute film, television, and stage projects based on both original ideas and pre-existing titles in the Miramax film library. Among the list of projects in the works are both a Good Will Hunting series concept and another series being developed based on the hit (?) David O. Russell film from 1996, Flirting With Disaster. Look, I can see the first one being made, but the second? The only thing that stands out to me about that film is Josh Brolin licking Patricia Arquette’s armpit…

The Wizard Of Oz

wizard of oz

Let me preface this by stating, I know I said “five” TV series in development, but I figured I could use The Wizard Of Oz as sort of an umbrella of sorts since there are currently five series that are in some way based on the classic film (and books). Given that we’re coming up on the 75th anniversary of the classic film, I guess everyone wants in on the action. So what we currently have in development are:

  • CBS is working on Dorothy” which is a medical drama from the same people behind the show “Elementary.” It is set in New York and will be “inspired by the characters and themes” from the film.
  • NBC has “Emerald City,” which no one really knows anything about except that it is going to be a “Game Of Thrones”-y retelling of the story which will take inspiration for all 14 books in the Frank Baum Oz series.  
  • The CW is bringing us “Dorothy Must Die,” which is apparently based on an upcoming young adult novel that takes place in present day, 80 years after Dorothy Gale supposedly returned home. But in reality, the still young Dorothy stayed in Oz and is now presiding over a fascist fairyland with the help of her henchmen – The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion. Everything is great until some meddling young girl gets swept up in a tornado and dropped into Oz which sparks a revolution to bring peace back to the magical land. Sure, why not?
  • Lifetime is developing “Red Brick Road” which is also being described as “Game Of Thrones”-ish. Obviously there’s originality abound at the networks these days.
  • SyFy has “Warriors Of Oz” which sounds amazing. So, the people at SyFy are teaming up with the director of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to create a post-apocalyptic miniseries where Dorothy is a man (A MAN!?) who is heavily armed and hellbent on taking down the evil wizard who rules the land. You win, SyFy!

You know, after listing these other series that are in development, a “Barbarella” television show is starting to sound pretty neat. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.
  • Leah Bentley

    Never liked The Wizard of Oz and still don’t!

    • Colt Howard

      Wow. Really?

  • Isabelle Chandler

    It looks like all the big TV channels are taking a slice of the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.

    • Wizard Of Oz TV shows and Houdini movies. That’s what we have to look forward to soon.

  • Colt Howard

    Great article. But I would love to see From Dusk Till Dawn as a series.

    • The series will probably succeed on the network it’s put on. There’s also a spanish Breaking Bad knock off coming. So…there’s that.

  • ed pierce

    We are in for some very bad television soon. How long do we have? Maybe it will be a good thing and it will drown out all of the reality tv that we are subjected to every day.