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T.V. Series Ending In Movie Finale Business Model

Television series that's planned run-up to a final episode shown in movie theaters
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Not really an original idea because the idea has been floated from time to time, but only as an afterthought once a series has garnered a reasonable following. If a series is very popular it would make financial sense to put the final episode in movie form shown in theaters, but I think the reason it hasn't been done is because it wasn't planned from the beginning. For instance, a TV network isn't going to give away it's best TV show's grand finale ratings bonanza, unless of course it's replaced by a box office smash hit ticket sales bonanza. But they can't spring that on a loyal audience who might feel betrayed and angered that they're being squeezed for a ticket after being loyal followers for years.

The series would be written from the very start to have all it's character and plot arcs able to end in a two hour episode that would be played only in movie theaters. Breaking Bad would be the perfect nomination for this. Lots of loose ends that need to be wrapped up. The audience would be told this right off the bat so they didn't feel taken advantage of when they're told that they're going to have to spend 12 bucks a ticket plus an additional ten bucks in popcorn and hot dogs to see the end episode.

Going to the final episode movie would be a social event like going to a concert where you'd get to mingle with fans of the show from years back.

Again, I think the only reason this hasn't been done is inertia. It's just not the way TV shows and movies are made. They do a series, they end a series, then somebody does a horrible re- boot movie years later that's a re-hash to cash in on the TV show. I think planning it from the beginning to be a hybrid entertainment product, TV to movie, would help the writers to craft it effectively as such. You wouldn't have any more final episodes where the guy goes nuts, or it was all a dream or everybody goes to jail etc etc. People would demand satisfaction or the movie would bomb. Writers knowing this from the beginning could plan accordingly instead of just getting a notice that this is the last year of the run so come up with something palatable to wrap things up.

I believe it was actually done as an afterthought with the TV show Battlestar Galactica. They just got cancelled and had a lot of crap left in film cans so they called it a movie, printed some posters and had a big box office hit. Some of my facts might be off on that but I seem to remember that was the case. Not a fan since I thought it was a crappy Star Wars ripoff myself.

Anyway, if it was done right, it could be a great entertainment event that was years in the making.

doctorremulac3, Apr 06 2014


       you could extend the idea both ways - the show starts with, say, some Tweets, and ends up on Jumbotrons ...
smendler, Apr 06 2014

       The way wide-screen TVs have become popular, and have similar "aspect ratio" to movie-theater screens, there is no reason why the final episode couldn't be shown both ways. Logically, the first place to show it is in the theater. But afterward, well, lots of movies are currently shown on TV, with TV advertisements inserted throughout. Nothing exists to prevent taking the movie and showing it on TV. Finally, with respect to sales of the "collected series", the movie would obviously be included as the last part of the collection.
Vernon, Apr 06 2014

       Stargate did it but they never made it to theaters.
DIYMatt, Apr 06 2014

       Firefly/Serenity ?
8th of 7, Apr 06 2014

       I'm pretty sure they played the Breaking Bad climax at the PCC in London, live I believe.
theleopard, Apr 07 2014

       //But afterward, well, lots of movies are currently shown on TV//   

       Absolutely, it's not an either/or. People too cheap to go the theater could wait maybe a year or so for the TV showing.   

       //I'm pretty sure they played the Breaking Bad climax at the PCC in London, live I believe.//   

       Like I said, not really an original idea except for the part about planning this from the beginning so the writers are basically writing dozens of episodes that are all leading up to a single episode climax. Breaking Bad happened to do this but I know from interviews that they had no clue how it was going to end until the last season. (spoiler alert) The scene where the M60 machine gun was introduced was nothing but an introduction, not a foreshadowing of an already written scene. Although Walt presumably knew how he was going to use it, the writers had no clue at the time that the scene was shot.
doctorremulac3, Apr 07 2014

       Openly planning to do things this way would be something new, and I would guess, effective. An additional variant might be the very thin development of one of the plot threads, deliberately (and openly) to lay the foundations for yet another series-based movie. Let it be known that you can't properly appreciate Movie#2, unless you follow every episode of the series. (ie. Just trying to run your idea in the opposite direction)
skoomphemph, Apr 07 2014

       Sure, go for it. Like all other entertainment, it's not about the format, it's about the combination of all other art involved (Story, characters,direction, tempo, execution).
sophocles, Apr 07 2014

       Meaning, this format idea will not hurt or help a story as much as the other factors.
sophocles, Apr 07 2014

       Well, it's a business model more than artistic execution outline. Although writers might have a different approach knowing they're writing a run-up to a movie. I know that past series finales would never have made it in a movie theater. Many of them have been sappy "bye-bye" vignettes built around some premise about why the situation is ending. I get the feeling of a filmed cast party at the end of a Broadway production. In other words, lots of sentiment, not a lot of excitement.   

       A movie would have to have payoff, closure and satisfaction, Breaking Bad being the best example I've ever seen. There's also one example of an ending that was ok for TV that might not have made it in the theater, specifically the Sopranos when Tony gets whacked and you see the hit from his perspective, namely the lights just going out.   

       Might have worked, but might have pissed people off, not sure.
doctorremulac3, Apr 08 2014

       Satisfaction is (often) based on expectations.   

       Even for the same person, they have different "audience" expectations in a theater/movie than in a TV show.   

       In TV shows, we expect "short term fun" with some "long term mystery" (arc) to get us to want to tune in for the next episode. Any "lull" in the story is intentionally put in the middle, to leave cliff hangers & bait at the bookends. (Not to mention we expect commercial breaks, requiring segues & context-resetting)   

       In Movies, we expect the entire long arc to finish. The pace needs to be solid the entire length with no lulls.   

       So, the type of storytelling, & pace changes with the format. Not all audiences recognize this, but it would explain why most SNL-based movies are soooo poor. (We expected short sketches with 50% failures, but instead get a 90 minute failed sketch)   

       And, as you point out, Breaking Bad ended well due to the storytelling, not the format.
sophocles, Apr 08 2014

       I think it would be 4 or 5 years of storytelling foreplay all leading up to one big bang of a finish.   

       //And, as you point out, Breaking Bad ended well due to the storytelling, not the format//   

       Of course it would have to be good. No substitute for quality writing. In fact, I've noticed that if there's a clever enough gimmick behind the thing writers can fall into a "It writes itself" mode. Some of the greatest stories don't sound all that interesting on their face. Chemistry teacher turns drug dealer, the trials and tribulations of a mafia family, (the Godfather) an archeologist hunts for a lost relic from the Bible, guy obsessively goes after a whale etc. On the other hand, you've got transforming robots from another planet coming to Earth for the final battle between good and evil in Transformers. Sounds great right? Totally un-watchable.
doctorremulac3, Apr 08 2014


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