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Feedback: TV hits make box office flops

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Taylor Kingsbury, Columnist

Taylor Kingsbury, Columnist

Okay, so we know that making films is big business, and profit, not quality, is the ultimate bottom line in movie production.

Because of this, cinema has largely been reduced to a mindless escapist diversion, rather than the art form it can be when put into capable hands.

Today’s most arresting flicks are often tiny, independent productions that don’t get a wide theatrical release until months after the art house crowd has made them successful.

As far as major studio pictures, originality and overall artistry are not on the agenda. The current formula for success involves making sequels to successful pictures, remaking classic films, or, more recently, producing films based on nostalgic television programs.

With the success of the big screen “Starsky & Hutch” opus, studios are rushing scripts based on television shows in production faster than you can say “green light.” 2005 will see a host of these sharing billing with the dozens of unnecessary sequels on the docket.

Among them, a “Dukes of Hazzard” film, starring Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott as Bo and Luke Duke, and Jessica Simpson as ‘70s sexpot Daisy Duke. Also on the list for 2005 release are films based on “Miami Vice,” “The A-Team,” and, believe it or not, “Magnum P.I.”

Granted, each of these shows have a strong cult following. Except for “Magnum P.I.”, that is; I can’t remember anybody liking that show when it was on.

As evidenced by the treatment of “Starsky & Hutch”, each of these television films promise to generate big dollars for their respective studios, and executives certainly know this, since they wouldn’t produce these films if they had any doubts.

However, wiser film consumers are forced to ask the very basic question, “what’s the effing point?”

Sure, “Miami Vice” was a popular, and very enjoyable show in the ‘80s. But, I fail to see how Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx can add anything to the impressive run the show had. To appeal to fans of the show that miss the fluorescent flair of Crockett and Tubbs, a simple DVD release of the series would be sufficient.

Now, you’re saying: “Taylor, quit whining. If you oppose the idea of them making a ‘Miami Vice’ film, you don’t have to go see it. We’re getting really sick of your know-it-all, uber-critical bashing of everything pop culture. We don’t care if we’re being bilked out of our money and intelligence, we just want to consume, consume, consume.

“We don’t know what makes you an authority on anything. You don’t watch television, and you don’t go to the movies. Additionally, the only music you listen to is by bands we’ve never heard of; therefore they can’t be good. If they were, they would be on the radio.

“You know, Taylor, seriously, you don’t know any more about good entertainment than we do. Your opinions are always skewed and negative, and, in fact, we’ve never read a positive word from you. Your formula is played, and we always know that no matter what you’re commenting on, you’re going to hate it. Therefore, your column is a complete waste of time and space.”

Okay, you’re absolutely right. There, now I’ve said something positive. You know, you really should look into column writing. It’s really easy.

So, adapting my attitude to your criticism, I have decided to take the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach to all of this. I don’t care if they ruin my favorite childhood shows, I just want a piece of the action.

So, I would like to take this opportunity to cement my copyright on treatments of some other shows that deserve theatrical production.

First of all, “Seinfeld” would be a natural for film adaptation. Every actor from the series is now desperate for work, so salary would not drive this film into budgetary oblivion.

Imagine the potential: an entire film about absolutely nothing. Oh, wait. I think David Lynch already owns the trademark on that one. Scratch that.

How about a “Full House” movie? Again, casting wouldn’t be a problem, because none of the actors from that show are doing too much these days. I’m sure John Stamos could be easily persuaded to take a hiatus from his 10-10-220 commercials.

Come to think of it, “Full House” is the most wretchedly awful show without “Friends” in the title in television history. Okay, bad idea. Let’s move on.

How about a “Matlock” movie? Or “The Golden Girls”? “Murder, She Wrote”? But, then again, everyone who watched those shows is dead now. Do dead people see movies? All right, that won’t work either.

This film thing is too hard. How about if we just take a popular show from the past and simply remake it with a different cast?

I’ve got it: Let’s take “Beverly Hills 90210” and just change the setting so it looks like a new show. We could have the characters live somewhere else, like, oh, I don’t know, Orange County or something. Oh, really? You’re kidding me. Dammit.

You know what, maybe I misjudged these television show films. These ideas are really hard to come up with after all.

Screw it. Can I just write “White Chicks 2” instead?

Taylor Kingsbury, a senior journalism major, is a columnist for the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at

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