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Can Movies Make the Transition to TV Series?

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?

 

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