While hit TV shows sometimes make blockbuster films (“Mission Impossible,” “21 Jump Street”), the reverse hasn’t held true of late. “Friday Night Lights” may well have ushered in the trend: The much-loved, little-watched drama failed to score with a mass audience, averaging a mere 3.8 million total viewers in its final season, while the movie turned H.G. Bissinger’s book into a critical success and gave Billy Bob Thornton a chance to prowl the sidelines. Monday morning quarterbacks blamed the TV show’s woes on its football theme, the scheduling moves and that regrettable murder subplot.
Fargo: Like the Coen brothers film that inspired it, the star-studded FX dramedy enjoyed near universal raves. But while arthouse audiences embraced the black comedy to the tune of $24.6 million, a more modest 2.6 million viewers tuned in for the smallscreen premiere, starring Thornton, right. Maybe it needs a wood-chipper.
Parenthood: The travails of the Braverman family warmed up the box office for $100 million — but five seasons in, NBC’s family drama draws only 6.1 million viewers (2.2 rating in adults 18-49), leaving it perennially on the bubble. Modern audiences may have lost the taste for the classic family drama.
About a Boy: Pity David Walton in the role originated by Hugh Grant, who won praise for daring to be unlikable. While early indications (8.3 million viewers overall; 2.4 rating in adults 18-49) suggest the show has the best chance of the movie-to-TV bunch to succeed, those numbers are skewed by the fact its lead-in (“The Voice”) is NBC’s top-rated program.
Hannibal: To be fair, Bryan Fuller’s visually stylistic take on the Hannibal Lecter tale doesn’t aspire to replicate the success of Dino De Laurentiis’ film, which wolfed down $165 million at the domestic box office. Yet viewers hoping to settle in for a night of fava beans and a nice Chianti seem to be turned off by the gothic-horror storytelling (3.6 million viewers; 1.3 rating in 18-49).
Bad teacher/dangerous Liaisons: CBS’ school-themed sitcom (pictured), which debuted April 24, puts Ari Graynor in the Cameron Diaz role. Meanwhile, ABC has a pilot in development for next season with Katie Holmes that transplants the socialite machinations of the French court to modern-day New York. Will either one get passing grades and manage to break the movies-to-TV curse?