Film Lists

5 Beloved Franchises That Hollywood Can Legally Ruin

Find out if your favorite childhood memory is going to be destroyed.

Hollywood options everything nowadays — meaning they buy the rights, or "option," to turn an existing property into a movie or show.

Your favorite book? Optioned. Your favorite comic? Optioned. Your favorite movie that was already a freaking movie in the first place so why would they possibly need to make it again? Oh yeah, that's optioned. That's optioned so hard.

But some things shouldn't be optioned. Not every beloved childhood book is meant to be a blockbuster. Not every cartoon character is intended to be "brought to life" by some generic hunk with too much hair gel. Some things need to be left alone. Because sometimes you know way before a movie or show gets made that it's going to be really, really bad.

Find tickets and showtimes on Fandango.

The Phantom Tollbooth

the phantom tollbooth book cover Now starring that stupid bug-eyed squirrel.

If you loved The Phantom Tollbooth novel, an adventure story rife with deep underlying themes about education, the pursuit of knowledge, and sensible governance, you might be happy to know that it's receiving a "live-action/hybrid" film adaptation directed by the same guy who did Ice Age: The Meltdown. While The Phantom Tollbooth could potentially work as a feature in the right hands, current Hollywood trends, including A Wrinkle In Time and Alice in Wonderland, seem to equate deep children's classics with lifeless, live-action CGI-fests. But if the book's concept of a young boy combatting ennui through abstract thought sounds less attractive than what will probably be twenty minutes of the big guard dog unsuccessfully trying to pick up a tiny bone, this adaptation might be right up your alley.

Danny and the Dinosaur

danny and the dinosaur book Danny was an OG.

Danny and the Dinosaur is a delightful children's book about a boy named Danny who goes to a museum, meets a dinosaur who comes to life, and the two play together for a bit. There is no narrative thrust to Danny and the Dinosaur other than the dinosaur randomly being alive and Danny going to a park with it. It's the most simplistic form of childhood wish fulfillment, hinging entirely on relating to six-year-olds who agree that "hanging out with a dinosaur would be cool." That is not a movie, and certainly not "a vehicle for top comedy talent." What story could they possibly add to Danny and the Dinosaur? Maybe the Dinosaur gets hungry and can't control his need for human meat. Now it's up to Danny to stop the Dinosaur, lest all his friends and family become extinct. That's actually pretty good, and if anyone is interested in buying that idea, it's mine so please contact me.

Naruto

naruto and sasuke Just two white boys being clearly white together.

Let's say this right off the bat: anime should not be adapted into live-action Hollywood fare. First, a large portion of anime's appeal derives from the animation styles, so that's an automatic knock against live-action. But more importantly, anime stories are Japanese in origin. They run on Japanese sensibilities and star Japanese characters. If Hollywood were aiming to truly adapt these works into accurate live-action representations, fine, go for it. But every prior Hollywood anime adaptation — from Ghost in the Shell to Netflix's Death Note to the horrendous Dragon Ball: Evolution — has been whitewashed to hell and Americanized to the point of being unrecognizable. So brace yourself for American Naruto, the story of a young white ninja named Naruto who hails from the Hidden Potato Village located somewhere in Idaho. As a student in the American art of ninjutsu, Naruto and his fellow white ninja trainees––his crush, Sarah, and his rival, Steven––must defeat Zachary, an evil sword-wielding ninja who is also white and hails from the Village Hidden in the Corn. Will they be able to recover the secret hamburger scroll in time to save the Country Music Jamboree, or will Zachary emerge as the true heir to the Harley Davidson technique? Find out in American Naruto.

Cowboy Bebop

cowboy bebop It's so good, go watch it now.

Cowboy Bebop is different from a lot of other anime in that a Hollywood live-action series could potentially work in this case. For one, the animation style is more adult, originally intended for a mature audience. As such, the jump to live-action isn't as jarring as it would be for a more cartoony series. Moreover, many of the characters and plot lines are influenced by Western tropes and genres, specifically "Spaghetti Westerns" like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and sci-fi fare like Alien. The real problem here is that the original Cowboy Bebop is a bona fide masterpiece, so pulling off an adequate adaptation would require top-tier writing, directing, acting, fight choreography, etc. Anything less will fall apart completely. Cowboy Bebop has one of the strongest, albeit subtlest emotional thrusts of any anime series to-date, and if their handling of Death Note offers any indication, Netflix probably isn't up to the task.

Sonic the Hedgehog

sonic the hedgehog movie Just look at this guy. This is official. I'm not joking.

"What if Sonic the Hedgehog was a fucking monstrosity?" This is the only sentiment that could justify the upcoming live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie. And unfortunately, no matter how much we wish and hope and pray it wasn't true, it is –– this one's definitely happening. But don't worry, the "Brand Personality" slide accidentally leaked by the movie's graphic design firm assures us that even if live-action Sonic looks like something that wants to grope you, he's really just "chill and likable" and "mischievous but not malicious." Welcome to douchey frat-bro Sonic with his dead eyes and abnormally jacked legs. Delight, as he breaks into your room at night, slips into your bed, and then assures you it was "just a prank." This movie is going to be an absolute dumpster fire. Also, Jim Carrey will be playing Dr. Robotnik. Please end this.


Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at dankahanwriter.com



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