This week's Sex and the City movie is hardly the first cinematic continuation of a TV show, but there really haven't been that many. Usually when we think of film adaptations of TV series, we're thinking of remakes. But there are a few movies that pick up where their respective show ends, whether as a resuming story, a prequel or something totally random and barely connected.
And of course, we keep hearing about other possible series-to-film resumptions: Lost, 24 and Arrested Development movies have all been discussed, and they may indeed happen. So, while there isn't a long list of predecessors to model their transitions on, I've compiled seven titles that did it right in some way or another. Hopefully, for the sake of the fans of Carrie and co., Sex and the City will be enough of a success to make number eight.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
People may enjoy the second installment best, but this is the one that started the film franchise, officially reigniting a series that had been canceled ten years prior. Though the original show had its share of fans, enough to eventually get this film produced, it wasn't initially considered a success. And interestingly enough, neither was the movie thought of as a complete hit, despite its $80 million gross and the fact that it spawned another ten film installments (and additional series).
In the event that an Arrested Development movie gets made, it could be seen as similar to Star Trek, since the TV show was initially a failure yet it has gained a larger following since its cancellation, enough to call for production of a feature follow-up. However, there's also a good chance that it will also be a failure on the big screen, like was Serenity, the cinematic continuation of the TV series Firefly.
tion more than simply an adaptation. em>Head (1968)
Hey, hey, it's the Monkees, up on the silver screen after departing their goofy TV series. But is it really connected to the show? I think so, considering the quartet was pretty much a construction for The Monkees anyway. Still, the delirious film, co-written by Jack Nicholson and director Bob Rafelson, was thought of then as an antithesis of the show (which would become popular with kids again twenty years later thanks to Nickelodeon) and was hoped to change the band's image. Instead the film was a commercial failure, the band broke up and Davy Jones was left to make cameos in sitcoms, usually playing himself (whether by name or not). In retrospect, though, it's an entertaining succession to the series for fans who've managed to place relative distance between their appreciation of the show and their appreciation of the movie.
City of Men (2007)
One doesn't need to be familiar with the TV series in order to enjoy this Brazilian film, despite its being a continuation. It features enough of a stand-alone storyline and it provides enough character development (including a few flashbacks to the show) for its two young protagonists. Of course, watching the series, which followed two friends from the slums of Rio throughout their teenage years, will give one a greater appreciation for the story and greater investment in the characters. I can't think of another feature follow-up to a series that's as successful for how well it resumes and how well it can be isolated.
The X-Files (1998)
In contrast to City of Men, the first feature spun-off from The X-Files TV series was neither too successful a continuation nor too successful a stand-alone story. I guess they tried too hard to make it accessible for people who didn't religiously follow the show, but many of us figured that, since it was released and took place between two seasons of the series, we wouldn't know what was going on and so didn't initially bother with the movie. Ten years later, though, it's a great supplement when watching the entire series on DVD. Just as it's easier to get ready for the upcoming second feature, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, now that we can watch all of the past episodes (and first film) leading up to its release date. The same issue likely affected the theatrical release of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, a prequel to its respective series. And likewise it's easier to watch at home along with the series now.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
Imagine if Da Ali G Show had been a lot more popular in the U.S. than it had been prior to the making of this movie? Imagine, for instance, if Michael Richards attempted to make a faux documentary in which Seinfeld's Kramer travels the nation and messes with people. Or consider the luck Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon would have had taking SNL's Hans and Franz on the road. Sacha Baron Cohen greatly benefited from the fact that most Americans were unfamiliar with Borat, a character he'd originated on his comedy series. And now, of course, it would be nearly impossible to make a sequel, or even a similar transition as in the case of the upcoming Ali G spin-off, Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt.
Wayne's World (1992)
Since I brought up SNL in the last selection, I might as well acknowledge the one truly successful spin-off from the long-running sketch comedy show. Well, I guess some people count The Blues Brothers, too, but I was too young to appreciate that transition, so I'm discounting it (though not ignoring it). Also, some might want to take issue with the fact that it was thanks to Wayne's World that we subsequently got duds like Coneheads, A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar and other forgettable features. Regardless of these two valid points, though, is the fact that Mike Myers and Dana Carvey showed us (again) that a popular recurring sketch can resume on the big screen and be very entertaining. It's an interesting contrast to those sketch groups who successfully make the jump to the big screen as a whole and as a brand (the Monty Python movies; Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy; the reportedly in-the-works State movie).
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
The TV series Police Squad was so short-lived that I continually forget that this movie is not the beginning of Frank Drebin. Yet, while Leslie Nielsen resumed that role from small to big screen, other actors did not return for the movie, which didn't arrive until 6 years after the show was canceled. Alan North was replaced by George Kennedy and Peter Lupus was replaced by O.J. Simpson. But seeing as both Nielsen and Ed Williams retained their roles, I deem it eligible to be considered a continuation.