Going Premium

A column article, Mission: Professional by: Steven Savage

Let's Forget Movies and Regular Television:

We're up to our armpits in Superhero and comic-based movies, and most are pretty good (I'm still kinda sad over Green Lantern, but let's try and forget that). We've also had some good animated series and movies, and currently getting to see Marvel's anime efforts on G4.

I'm sure you'd like to adapt some things from comics to other media. I'm sure other properties are in development for television and movies.

So I present for your consideration a third way between television and movies.

Comic series, especially ones of a superheroic nature, are a difficult call for adaption. Movies bind the stories by time, set huge requirements for profits, and take forever to do. Television is smaller-scale, but also requires a lot of content to get a viable series - and when that's not a problem, it can run on forever (hello, Smallville).

The Premium Cable Solution

You hear about it all the time Premium Cable channels (what we old geeks once called Movie channels) producing all sorts of fantastic programming. We hear about Game of Thrones or The Tudors. There are chance-taking shows like Dexter. These channels are perfect for comic adaptions, not just as we've seen in The Walking Dead but other comic properties like super-heroes and other more "typical" fare, as well as more oddball properties.

It makes a lot of sense:

  • They represent a middle ground between movies and television culturally. Ambitious projects are not immediately regarded as failures; oddness is expected and even encouraged.
  • Their many successes encourage actors, directors, writers, and others to work with them.
  • The Premium channels don't have to run on standard limits many networks - and even specialist networks - have. They can set up their own seasons and make things run in the ways that work for them. They do many mini-series - which fits many properties.
  • The Premium channels have carved out successful business models that include doing unusual, epic and intelligent work that differs from the typical networks.
  • The Premium channels have the budget for some pretty epic works - it may not be like a film, but its more than many television shows - and indeed as television focuses on cheap reality shows, it seems the premium channels are happy to spend more money (or make it go farther).
  • A Premium channel doing something edgy, unusual, or epic is treated different in the media - it's usually treated as yet something else to watch as opposed to "watch this mess." (I bet the Capewould have done better on Premium).
  • Frankly, the Premium channels innovate more. They take chances. A comic-property would sell easier to a Premium channel.

With the success of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead it's time to see what other comic properties might do well in Premium adaptions, leveraging the budgets, the non-traditional elements, and the reputation.

What would you think would fit?

Community Discussion