The CW Reportedly Looking To Adapt Battle Royale For A TV Series
If the success of the The Hunger Games has taught us anything, it's that there is an audience for a story that involves kids killing other kids. Based on Suzanne Collins' popular young adult series, the film also brought attention to Battle Royale, a 2000 Japanese movie with a similar premise (and the Koushun Takami novel on which it was based). And word is, the CW has its eye on possibly turning the story into a TV show.
The LA Times got the exclusive on the story, stating that an unnamed source tells them the CW has had talks with Battle Royale's Hollywood representatives about possibly turning the book into an American (English language) TV show. These are apparently just preliminary talks and it's believed that writer Koushun Takami's approval on the project would be a sticking point in the deal. From what the Times is reporting, it sounds like the TV show would be an adaptation of the novel, to which they hope to acquire the rights. No deal appears to be in place yet.
I haven't read Battle Royale, but I have seen the movie and while the arena-set kids-killing-kids element is similar to the set up for The Hunger Games, the story is different and things get seriously, disturbingly violent - probably more violent than what I'd expect we'd find on The CW anyway. Sure, violence is featured in shows like The Vampire Diaries and Nikita, but the concept of kids being forced into murderous situations has its own level of horror that may not be properly adaptable for network television. It causes me to wonder what the network has in mind as they eye this project.
As the Times notes, the CW already has a book-based young adult story in development. The pilot for The Selection was not given a series order but it sounds like it's still in contention at the network, and given the premise to that, which involves a futuristic setting where a young woman is selected to compete to marry a prince and be the queen of a war-torn nation, it seems like it might be a better fit for the CW than Battle Royale, unless they turned Battle Royale into something else, and that's where my reservations stem from. There's also a sort of Lord of the Flies quality to BR that I'd hate to see get lost behind a more angsty-dramatic story.
Attempts for a U.S. feature remake of Battle Royale have been made throughout the last five or six years, but it hasn't happened. While I can definitely see a lot of books being better fits for TV adaptations than they would movies, it's hard to picture a Battle Royale adaptation working for network TV. Now, if word was that one of the pay cable channels (Showtime, HBO, Starz) were looking at the book, I might be a bit more optimistic. Regardless, we'll have to wait and see where this project goes, if it goes at all.
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