from the big screen to the small screen

Recently, I saw something that I never thought I’d see.  It was the teaser trailer for “FUBAR” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger which is coming this summer.  I reason that I never thought I’d see it is because “FUBAR” is not a movie, it’s a television show.  It’s currently scheduled to start showing on Netflix starting on May 25, 2023.

When I thought about it some more, I realized that I shouldn’t be surprised.  Schwarzenegger is joining the group of movie stars that are now starring in television mini-series or regular series.  The group already includes Sylvester Stallone (“Tulsa King”), Kate Winslet (“Mare of Easttown”), Al Pacino (“Hunters”), Julia Roberts (“Gaslit”), Steve Martin (“Only Murders in the Building”), Renée Zellweger (“The Thing About Pam”), Gary Oldman (“Slow Horses”), and others.  Plus, there will be even more joining the group soon including Amy Adams (currently scheduled to be in “Kings of America”), Robert De Niro (currently scheduled to be in “Nada” as well as other TV series or mini-series), and Cate Blanchett (currently working on “Disclaimer”).

Years ago, you would occasionally see actors or actresses such as Bruce Willis (“Moonlighting”), Jennifer Lawrence (“The Bill Engvall Show”), and George Clooney (“ER”) start their careers on television and then become movie stars.  After that you might see them guest star on a television show or star in a made for TV movie, but you’d almost never see them star on a TV show. 

Now, with the all the cable channels and streaming sites, that’s all changed.  These days there are several movies with big name stars that will premiere on a television network or streaming site (some of them have a limited theatrical release and others don’t) and, over the last couple years, there’s also movie stars that are doing television series while they’re continuing to star in movies.  Harrison Ford is currently on two different television series (“1923” and “Shrinking”), he’s starring in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” this summer, and he’s currently signed on to play Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (replacing William Hurt) in a couple  Marvel movies that will be released in 2024.

The actors aren’t alone.  Award winning movie directors are also working on television shows.  The TV series “Disclaimer” that Cate Blanchett stars in is written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron.  Director Todd Field was going direct the TV mini-series “The Devil In the White City” – however he dropped out last October along with Keanu Reeves who was going to star.  Director Adam McKay has directed TV shows including “Succession” and “Winning Time” in between directing movies like “Don’t Look Up”.  Martin Scorsese is currently signed on to direct the TV series “Gangs of New York” which is supposedly based on the movie he directed.  David Fincher directed the TV series “Mindhunter” in between directing movies like “Mank” and “The Killer” (opening later this year).

When you ask people why they decided to do a television series, some respond that it’s easier.  Steve Martin has said that he can film the television show in New York City where he lives and come home every night.  He’s working a somewhat stable job (until the series gets cancelled) and he doesn’t have to be away from his family for a few months filming a movie. 

Others say that it’s better to do a television show because there are a lot of television channels and streaming sites that are looking for good content.  It’s the reason that some movie scripts have studios and streaming sites get into a bidding war.  If you have a script that can’t be condensed into a 3 hour or less movie, the television channels and streaming sites also want mini-series or regular series that are so well made that they look like they could have been movies.  Scripts so good that they’re attracting big name actors and directors. 

Although some television channels and streaming sites have recently cut costs and they’re starting to follow the studios format by making series based on “The Lord of the Rings” books, Marvel comics, DC comics, Star Wars movies, etc., I think there is still a lot of room for the scripts that are luring the movie stars and directors to television or streaming sites. 

I’m really looking forward to some of the shows that will be coming to a small screen soon.  The only problem is that there are so many different television networks and streaming sites – each with their own monthly price.  Paying for all the television channels and streaming sites that are showing what I want to watch is more expensive than going to a movie.  Especially since I must pay for a couple months until the mini-series or TV season is done instead of paying for a single movie ticket.