More popular movies are turning into TV shows in the age of streaming

William Zabka and Ralph Macchio repeat their roles as Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso from the “Karate Kid” in “Cobra Kai”.


Reboots, remakes, reworks, name them what you will, Hollywood has spent decades recycling popular franchises and cult favorite movies to grab the attention of a new generation.

This trend is nothing new in the entertainment industry. What has changed is its frequency.

“Bates Motel”, “Snowpiercer”, “Scream”, “Westworld”, “Fargo”, “Watchmen”, “Teen Wolf”, “What We Do In The Shadows”, “Limitless”, “Lethal Weapon” and “Cobra” Kai “are just a few examples from recent years. And more are in the works.

TV shows based on “Alien”, “The Mighty Ducks”, “A League of Their Own” and “The Equalizer” are currently in preparation. Then there are upcoming series like Clarice and the new Lord of the Rings, which are book based but also hit movies, and Disney’s series of Marvel and Star Wars programs tied to its film franchise.

“I don’t think we’re running out of good ideas,” said Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse University and an expert on pop culture. “I think the reason we see so many of these is because there is so much real estate to fill.”

The combination of more streaming services available to the public than ever before and a massive shift in content consumption habits means Hollywood will rely more than ever on proven franchises.

No more channel surfing

Gone are the days of surfing through a finite number of channels in search of something to watch.

For the past decade, streaming services have disrupted the content pipeline. Cable and network television have a limited schedule. During the day, talk shows and reruns are played in the morning and early afternoon, and new episodes of shows appear after the evening news. This means that companies can only have a certain number of programs.

Streaming customers are not tied to 24-hour planning and see what they want, when they want. This means that a subscriber can watch an entire season of a show in just a few days, or an entire series in a week. Then they are hungry for something else to see.

With a few exceptions, studios that have chosen to enter the streaming world have made all episodes of a television season available to consumers in advance instead of weekly. This strategy means that streaming services must deliver more content to their subscribers than their cable counterparts.

Turning nostalgic movies into long-form TV shows is an easy way to captivate audiences and reduce financial risk.

“Development costs are lower,” said Candice Alger, professor at Georgia State University’s Creative Media Industries Institute. “It’s safer to write a story that has already been proven and whose characters have already been developed.”

If the show is successful, like “Fargo” or “Cobra Kai”, studios can continue to produce multiple seasons. If the show fails, the losses are less.

“It’s a great way to develop content without having to deal with the unpredictability or risk of building a new franchise,” said David Schreiber, chairman of the creative and entertainment industries at Belmont University.

Nostalgia as a currency

Hollywood has long been dedicated to the nostalgia of selling movie tickets or getting viewers to tune into a new show. There is a lot of emotional equity built in when it comes to franchise businesses large and small.

Disney took advantage of this strategy when it launched its streaming service Disney +. The platform is planning series based on “The Mighty Ducks”, “Turner & Hooch”, “Monsters Inc.”, “Night at the Museum” and “The Sandlot”, among others.

“Monster Inc.” gets a new show on Disney + called “Monsters at Work” that explores the transition from scream to laughter in Monstropolis.


These shows give audiences a chance to relive their childhood and share these favorites with their own children.

While there are a number of TV shows based on films made in the 2000s or later, many are from the 80s and 90s.

“The 80s and 90s are still in the sweet spot,” Thompson said. “It’s not too far to be forgotten, but not too far [recent]. There are fond memories of these films. “

Not to mention that sentimentality makes a great marketing bonus.

Thompson used “Cobra Kai” as an example. The show, which started as a YouTube series before switching to Netflix, has gained a foothold among older viewers who watched “The Karate Kid” when they were younger. It also captures the next generation who saw the movie when it was played on cable television.

The show also attracts the attention of new consumers introduced to the content by either a parent or word of mouth.

“The real benefit of reboots and remakes is that you’ve already bought and paid years of marketing budgets,” Thompson said.

These shows are amplified when actors who appeared in the original film return. Taking the example of “Cobra Kai”, both William Zabka, who played Johnny Lawrence, and Ralph Macchio, who played Daniel LaRusso, returned to be part of the series.

That’s not to say that restarted shows that don’t bring back the original cast automatically fail, but people often have strong emotional ties with the actors who spawned iconic characters. This appendix can tempt you to watch the new series.

“We live in a time when people are looking for authenticity, and that happens a little easier when you bring that back [original] Actor, “said Schreiber.

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