Smokey And The Bandit is the latest film getting the TV reboot treatment. A pilot written by David Gordon Green and Brian Sides – with Green in line to direct – and produced in part by Seth MacFarlane is currently doing the rounds and being pitched to networks and streaming services.
The new take is reportedly inspired by the genre of 70s and 80s drive-in double features, and the potential series explores “the crossroads where humble realities meet those larger-than-life, all in a blast of tailpipe exhaust”, per THR. The original film was a surprise hit that wound up being the second highest grossing film of 1977, spawning two sequels.
The movies also inspired four TV movies that featured Brian Bloom playing a younger version of the Burt Reynolds character from the original film, so Smokey And The Bandit on TV isn’t totally a new idea.
Green said in a statement: “Growing up in the south, Smokey And The Bandit was an iconic franchise for me. The legacy of these characters is a playground of swagger and sass that I’m excited to dig into”. Green’s involvement makes sense considering he recently had success rebooting another franchise for Universal with 2018’s Halloween.
This is just the latest in a long line of film-to-TV reboots that have become a popular tactic for streaming companies and networks in recent years. It allows for the creation of a new show but with (supposedly) a built-in audience. However, many of these experiments haven’t exactly worked.
The Purge was developed into a TV series that ran for two seasons before being cancelled. An adaptation of the Bradley Cooper thriller Limitless ran for one season before being axed. The animated Napoleon Dynamite series could only last six episodes before having its plug pulled, while Bad Teacher did a little better, reaching 13 episodes before cancellation.
Even some of the film-to-TV adaptations that have lasted longer than those haven’t left much of a footprint. Does anyone watch Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, which has ran for four seasons? Lethal Weapon, which just got cancelled after three? What about the three seasons of the Scream TV series?
That isn’t to say that film-to-TV adaptations can’t work (M*A*S*H, anyone?) but recent history tells us that, even with a supposed built-in audience, these adaptations can struggle to get off the ground. Hey it’s almost as if audiences actually want some originality?
Still, Green is a talented filmmaker who can probably make Smokey And The Bandit into something worth watching. He was heavily involved in Eastbound & Down for HBO, which was well-liked. We’ll see what happens.
Green is currently working on back-to-back Halloween sequels, titled Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends. MacFarlane is also working on an animated Good Times reboot with Steph Curry and a dramatic series titled The Winds Of War.