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15 Sci-Fi Movies That Deserve Second Chances As TV Shows

Updated June 5, 2020 5.1k votes 672 voters 21.4k views15 items

List RulesVote up the failed sci-fi flicks that could inspire great TV.

We live in the era of peak television with an almost impossible amount of series to stream and binge. Still, as more and more movies get a television reboot, it's easy to imagine how some subpar or "just okay" sci-fi movie concepts could be elevated by the small screen. So many TV shows are becoming movies - and more big-name actors are signing on to streaming projects. Maybe Hollywood should give these underappreciated (or underdeveloped) almost-blockbusters a second life on a streaming platform. 

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  • Why It Failed As A Movie: The Dark Tower series by Stephen King is often thought of as his best set of books, and fans were eager to see King's sci-fi Western masterpiece hit the big screen. King's written eight books and a short story for the series, and somehow, the movie only ended up clocking in at just over an hour and a half - nowhere near enough time to explore the story's intricacies. The studio also fought for a PG-13 rating, which eliminated many of the more graphic elements of gunslinger Roland Deschain's adventures. 

    Why It Would Work As A TV Show: In the era of premium streaming TV, The Dark Tower could still have the "toughness" that King believes the film adaptation lacked. Audiences would be able to really take in all 4,250 pages of the source material. Plus, the Dark Tower series acts as the linchpin of King's multiverse; a TV show would allow for plenty of crossover with some of King's other successful adaptations

    • Actors: Idris Elba, Tom Taylor, Matthew McConaughey
    • Released: 2017
    • Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
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    Assassin's Creed

    Why It Failed As A Movie: Video game movies have historically been hit or miss, and the 2016 adaptation of Assassin's Creed falls into the latter category. Michael Fassbender stars as both Aguilar de Nerha and Callum "Cal" Lynch, a new character created for the film. That's the problem. Instead of relying on the video game's already rich story, the filmmakers opted to write an original piece to expand the mythology of the video game world. Even Fassbender admits that the film took itself "too seriously" and could have been much better.

    Why It Would Work As A TV Show: Given the game series' complex and rich story, a TV series would be an ideal setting for the time-traveling historical fiction. Instead of creating new storylines, a show could get into the centuries-long struggle between the Assassins and the Templars, while also having fun and introducing historical revisionist concepts. 

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    • Why It Failed As A Movie: John Carter is the name Walt Disney studios opted to go for when they decided to adapt Edgar Rice Burroughs's 1912 sci-fi Barsoom series. Instead of playing up the fact that they were adapting what many consider a science fiction classic or calling it one of Burroughs's book titles, like Princess of Mars, the studio decided to take the protagonist's rather bland name as the title. Disney also softened some of the source material in order to make it more family-friendly.

      Why It Would Work As A TV Show: There are already rumors that Disney is hustling to make a John Carter series for their Disney+ streaming service. A TV show could show fans of Burroughs's series all of John Carter's trips to and from the Mars-like planet instead of focusing on one larger story. 

      • Actors: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Mark Strong
      • Released: 2012
      • Directed by: Andrew Stanton
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      Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

      Why It Failed As A Movie: Director Luc Besson is known for his sometimes campy sci-fi films, like 1997's Fifth Element. Fans of both Besson and the movie's source material, a French comic series called Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent, had a lot to be hopeful for. Unfortunately, Valerian goes a little too hard in the "weird for weird's sake" department and feels more like a disjointed space rave than a sci-fi film with an actual premise.

      Why It Would Work As A TV Show: Agents Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevigne) are called to the City of A Thousand Planets, a utopian city floating through space with thousands of intergalactic species sharing knowledge. A TV show could still capture the tongue-in-cheek ethos of the source material while also delving into the intersecting lives of so many different intelligent creatures.

      • Actors: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna
      • Released: 2017
      • Directed by: Luc Besson
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