From ‘Fargo’ to ‘Cobra Kai,’ Do Movie-to-Series Adaptations Need Film Fans to Succeed?| Chart

As a newer streamer in an entertainment world where popular IP is only getting scarcer and more expensive, Peacock secured a significant victory in claiming the rights to “Ted.” The implicit value in licensing well-known fictional characters and universes is that any new iteration in a given franchise is going to attract fans of the original. Given all that, Peacock is likely doing its best to bring fans of “Ted,”originally distributed by Universal, to the streaming platform.

But surprisingly, our data suggests that when big screen characters get the small screen treatment fans of the movies aren’t any more likely to love the TV adaptation than the average fan — in other words, the shows successfully build fan bases of their own. We looked at a few examples of TV adaptations that have taken off and examined whether they’re any more likely to share fans with their feature film predecessors.

Cobra Kai Season 4
William Zabka and Ralph Macchio in “Cobra Kai” (Netflix)

“Cobra Kai”

Based on: The Karate Kid (1984)
Did it need fans of the film? NO

Nostalgia about the ’80s features prominently in the appeal of Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” for viewers and critics alike. So it’s surprising that, according to Insights, fans of the show aren’t statistically more likely to enjoy “The Karate Kid” than the average viewer. They are slightly more likely to vote up “The Goonies” on our list of The Most Rewatchable Movies, confirming that this fanbase does, in fact, include plenty of ’80s kids who don’t mind rewatching the classics. But the data suggests that “Cobra Kai” has for the most part succeeded in building an audience entirely separate from that of the decade-defining movie it’s based on.

“Bates Motel”

Based on: Psycho (1960)
Did it need fans of the film? YES

The Alfred Hitchcock thriller “Psycho” is considered a classic of both the genre and film generally, which is why it still has diehard fans 60 years after its release. Those fans apparently make up a significant part of the audience for A&E’s prequel series “Bates Motel” — those who vote up “Bates Motel” on the list of The Best TV Shows Of The Past 20 Years (2 million votes) are 2X more likely to also vote up “Psycho” on our Ultimate List Of The Best Movies Of All Time.


Based on: Child’s Play (1988)
Did it need fans of the film? NO

Now approaching its third season, “Chucky” is evidence that a successful, but long-running film franchise can be rejuvenated on television. But Insights tells us the only television that fans of the “Child’s Play” franchise are statistically more inclined to enjoy are Saturday morning cartoons of the ’80s, like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” There’s one major exception: “Child’s Play” fans are nearly 2X more likely to love Netflix’s “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” series.

But in spite of this audience’s clear ’80s nostalgic bent — and the return of original Chucky voice Brad Dourif in the new series — it seems “Chucky” has had to make do with its own fanbase. Luckily for Peacock, it’s succeeded at doing just that.

Frances McDormand in the original “Fargo” movie (Gramercy)


Based on: “Fargo” (1996)
Did it need fans of the film? YES

This anthology spinoff is more loosely connected to its movie than any series in this blog, with none of the original stars or characters from the 1996 Coen brothers’ film. Yet the fan bases of each seem to be extremely close, with fans of the series 3X more likely to also be fans of the movie. The only shows that fans of the film are more likely to love are “Arrested Development” and “The Sopranos.”

“What We Do in the Shadows”

Based on: “What We Do in the Shadows” (2014)
Did it need fans of the film? NO

The 2014 indie mockumentary film from Taika Waititi was a cult hit, if not quite a pop culture phenomenon. The FX mockumentary sitcom that the movie spawned is one of the most popular new comedies on the air, per TV lists like The Best New TV Comedies Of The Last Few Years, The Best Current Dark Comedy TV Shows and The Best Horror Comedy Series. With entirely different casts (save for a few cameos from the stars of the film) and five years between their respective release dates, perhaps it’s not surprising that fans of the show aren’t any more likely to love the movie than the average Ranker reader.


Preceded by: “Jack Reacher” (2012)
Did it need fans of the film? NO
Amazon Prime’s Reacher series was a surprise smash hit, earning the #3 spot on our list of The Best New TV Shows Of 2022. Despite the popularity of the Tom Cruise-fronted “Jack Reacher” back in 2012, this new crop of fans has no statistical affinity for that movie. You might argue that’s because the show adapts the material of Lee Child’s novels more closely, or that the second movie, “Never Go Back,” tarnished the reputation of the first. Whichever way you slice it, Amazon clearly succeeded in finding a new audience for its action-adventure series — and Peacock can do the same for “Ted.”

Ryan Mach is a content marketing manager at Ranker, a WrapPRO partner. Ranker is a source of crowdsourced rankings on the internet, where millions of people come to voice their opinions on their favorite movies, TV shows, celebrities, and more. Visit Ranker Insights for more unique information about any audience or to contact us for more information.

For more from WrapPRO partners, visit the Data and Analysis Hub.

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