H.G. Bissinger‘s Friday Night Lights is widely considered not only one of the best American football books, but one of the greatest books on sport ever written. It tells the remarkable tale of the 1988 Permian Panthers, a high school Texas football team who made a run to the state championship.
The story of the team’s run to the championship is the focus, but it’s also an absorbing look at football fandom in America, especially high school football in small towns where the Friday night games are practically a mandatory viewing for anyone that considers themselves a part of the community.
The book was so successful that it was adapted into the 2004 film of the same name starring Billy Bob Thornton, before a TV series was created starring Kyle Chandler which had a successful run from 2006-2011. One would think the story has been adapted enough times and told very well, but Universal would perhaps disagree.
Why? Because the studio has commissioned a new Friday Night Lights movie, and they’ve tapped David Gordon Green (Stronger, Pineapple Express) to direct. The film is not expected to be any sort of sequel or continuation of the TV series, it will be its own thing and once again revolve around a high school football team gunning for the state championship while tackling social conflicts within their small town.
Reportedly, ever since the TV series went off the air in 2011, Universal has been mulling over another adaptation, with one option even including bringing Chandler’s Coach Eric Taylor back for a film version of the story. But instead, this new film will take the story to a whole new setting – but still in Texas – with a new cast.
There has been some speculation that Universal simply had to make a new version in order to keep the rights to the book, which is certainly plausible, and something we saw a few years ago with Fox and the disastrous Fantastic Four.
Either way, Robert Schenkkan (Hacksaw Ridge) has penned the script and Brian Grazer will produce for Imagine Entertainment. It will be a tough ask for Green and co. to match the quality of the previous incarnations of Friday Night Lights, but the source material remains excellent so it’ll be hard for a director of Green’s quality to steer too wrong.