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From The TV Screen To The Silver Screen

Jaap Buitendijk - © 2019 Focus Features

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“Downton Abbey,” Focus Features’ adaptation of the popular PBS `period drama, topped the weekend box office with an estimated $31 million

It became the largest opening in Focus Features’ history and pulled ahead of “Ad Astra,” Fox’s sci-fi feature starring Brad Pitt, which opened with $19.2 million. The success of “Downton Abbey" is in large part due to its cult-like TV following—the series finale, which aired in 2015, drew an audience of nearly 10 million viewers. Reviving a fanbase’s affection for the television characters they love has proven to be an effective strategy for filmmakers. Sex and The City and The Simpsons commanded huge opening weekends for their film adaptations, as did franchises like Star Trek, Transformers and Mission: Impossible, all based on television classics. 

Other highly anticipated television adaptations are still to come this fall. In October, viewers will follow the bleak trials of Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, a revival of AMC’s popular drama. That same month, The Addams Family will bring the ghoulish family back in animated form. Charlie’s Angels, which was previously adapted from the television show in 2000, will be released in theaters this November.

What makes a good TV-to-film adaptation? What are some examples of the good and bad of TV series adapted to film? What’s your personal favorite? 

Call us and weigh in at 866-893-5722. 


Amy Nicholson, film critic for KPCC, film writer for The Guardian and host of the podcasts ‘Unspooled’ and the podcast miniseries “Zoom”; she tweets @TheAmyNicholson

Tim Cogshell, film critic for KPCC, Alt-Film Guide and; he tweets @CinemaInMind

Charles Solomon, film critic for KPCC, Animation Scoop and Animation Magazine