Although it gives us the impression that the audiovisual market is saturated with sequels/prequels/spin-offs/etc, the truth is that There are more failed attempts to build a franchise than those that are truly victorious. There are many occasions when attempts have been made to adapt well-known literary sagas without success and, although most of them remained in a single film, there are some that found a way to continue as a series.
Leaving out some unreleased projects like ‘Percy Jackson’, ‘Vampire Academy’ or ‘Interview with the Vampire’, here are a few adaptations of literary sagas that had a second life as a TV series (with more or less success).
‘The dark matter’
One of the most resounding failures was ‘The Golden Compass’, the first attempt to adapt Philip Pullman’s ‘Dark Materials’ trilogy in 2007, following the success of productions such as Narnia. With an all-star cast led by Nicole Kidman Y Daniel Craigdirector Chris Weitz launched into one of New Line’s most expensive productionswith a budget of 180 million that it did not recover in its premiere, causing losses that led to the restructuring of the studio and its acquisition by Warner Bros.
We had to wait until 2018 for the BBC to rescue Lyra’s story, this time with the aim of adapt it fully and faithfully (The film made certain modifications, such as softening the atheist burden of the books, although it did not get rid of the boycott of certain religious sectors). With two seasons and a third on the way to conclude the story, the series can boast of having been able to give Pullman’s work much more play.
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’
Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel published in 1985 had its first approach to the screen in 1990. Directed by Volker Schlöndorff (‘The Tin Drum’) and starring Faye Dunaway‘The Maiden’s Tale’ had a 13 million budget and only scratched 4.9 in collection.
If it went unnoticed at the time, it has paled even more in the shadow of the successful Hulu series created by Bruce Miller. Became one of the television phenomena of 2017, taking countless awards such as the Emmy for Best Actress for Elisabeth Moss. Despite the fact that her popularity has not been the same as in her great first season, she has enough followers to accumulate 4 seasons (and 5 on the way), having even surpassed the original literary material.
in full boom of adaptations of children’s literature to the cinema, Cassandra Clare’s popular ‘Shadowhunters’ saga seemed like a logical choice to lure fans of ‘Twilight’ or ‘The Hunger Games’ to the movies. The adaptation of Harald Zwart (‘Agent Cody Banks’), like many others of that time, failed to stand out above the rest and stayed in a single film
(whose ending spoiled the end of the saga for you, if that consoles anyone).
Three years later, the Freeform chain resurrected the project that ended up adding 3 seasons and 55 episodes. Although ‘Shadowhunters’ would have fit better in the catalog of channels like SyFy (the truth is that the special effects were difficult to watch) and in almost every other aspect the level was rock bottom, the reality is that achieved what its predecessor did not: adapt the original hexalogy in its entirety (in his own way, yes).
‘A series of unfortunate events’
This popular children’s saga of 13 books created by Lemony Snicket in 1999, received an adaptation of its first three installments in 2004. Brad Silberling (‘Casper’) directed this peculiar and far from negligible version with a histrionic Jim Carrey (proper, for this occasion) in the role of Count Olaf, which was not enough to prevent the cancellation of possible sequels due to its lackluster box office.
In 2017, Netflix decided to give the saga a new chance by signing Neil Patrick Harris as new casting head. At a rate of about four books per season, the series adapted all the novels over 3 seasons and 25 chapters so, on this occasion, the tormented Baudelaire brothers managed to come out with better luck.
If we talk about extensive juvenile sagas, we cannot forget the teen spy Alex Rider created by Anthony Horowitz, which accumulates a total of 14 deliveries. In 2006 came a first adaptation entitled ‘Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker’, with the once famous Alex Pettyfer as the protagonist. 40 million budget that did not compensate for the little more than 20 that entered at the box office.
When we had already forgotten about her, Amazon and its FreeVee platform arrived, with their proposal to give the character a second chance. We do not know if they will plan to adapt the entire franchise, however, the series is going from strength to strength with two first seasons and a third planned for this fall.
We all fondly remember that Stephen Frears film in 2000, in which John Cusack ran a vinyl store and he spent the day talking about music and his terrible luck in love. However, the reality is that the film was not what is said to be a success at the box office, where it collected little more than its budget.
It was the first adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name, which surprisingly returned as a series 20 years later. Hulu ordered a 10-episode season with Zoë Kravitz in the lead role. This second life of the Hornby story got good reviews but didn’t last long and was canceled after its first and only season.
The adaptation of the first volume of Steven Gould’s tetralogy arrived in 2008, with a script by David S Goyer (‘The Dark Knight’), direction of Doug Liman (‘Edge of tomorrow’) and Hayden Christensen as main star. Although the film was not a resounding failure at the box office, it did receive an avalanche of negative reviews (15% on Rotten Tomatoes). Whatever the reason, the point is that in the end we never saw any more sequels to this story.
Until 2018, when ‘Impulse’ hit YouTube Premium. The series adapted the second book in the ‘Jumper’ saga and once again had Liman as producer and director of some episodes. As in the novel, in this sequel we found another protagonist who discovered her power to teleport. It had 2 seasons of 10 episodes each, despite the fact that in the end it was canceled in 2020.
The character created by Tom Clancy came preceded by several highly successful adaptations: ‘The Hunt for Red October’, ‘Game of Patriots’, ‘Imminent Danger’ and ‘Nuclear Panic’ were well received and, 12 years after the latter, Kenneth Branagh came with ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Play’ and the thing didn’t go so well. The box office was pretty disappointing and we never saw Chris Pine’s Jack Ryan again.
However, hope was not lost in the character and four years later a new version was released as a series, in which John Krasinski picked up the witness of all the actors who had preceded him as the iconic spy. The series has yet to premiere its third season and has already been renewed for a fourth and final season, with the intention of making a spin-off centered on the character of Michael Peña.
The best example of films that have gone down in history as great cinematographic works andNevertheless, they crashed at the box office are the adaptations of ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by Philip K. Dick. Unfortunately, neither Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ nor Denis Villeneuve’s sequel ‘Blade Runner 2049’ were profitable enough to consider turning into a trilogy.
Perhaps for this reason, we were all caught by surprise that his universe will continue to expand with the anime from ‘Blade Runner: The Black Lotus’. After a couple of short films, this Japanese animated series co-produced by Crunchyroll and Adult Swim has arrived. This interesting new approach to replicants was completed with a total of 13 episodes.