Should popular TV series continue as movies?
By Joe Harker
Breaking Bad was a hugely popular TV series that ran for five seasons and followed the descent of science teacher Walter White into criminal meth cook Heisenberg. Acclaimed by critics and audiences, the series ended on what seemed like a very final note, character arcs were neatly tied up and everyone's story appeared to be over. Until now.
Reports of a film following on from the series have been announced as Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan is working on a two hour screen project "set in the existing Breaking Bad franchise". The film will "follow the escape of a kidnapped man and his quest for freedom", leading some to believe Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, will be the focus of the piece. If there was one character whose story still had some mileage left in it, it was him.
Breaking Bad already has a prequel series, Better Call Saul, following the early days of sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman. However, many fans believe this film will be a sequel and they are split over whether this is a good thing. Some are overjoyed to be getting more Breaking Bad content while others believe the original series ended perfectly and required no follow up.
It is not the only current TV series making the jump to the big screen. Walking Dead lead actor Andrew Lincoln has left the show but there are plans to make a trilogy of films starring his character, Rick Grimes. Once again, audiences are split between being happy to see more of the character and wary that a well done ending is being ignored in favour of milking a franchise.
Some TV series cancelled before their time were able to wrap things up with a movie. When science fiction show Firefly got the axe after one season a film helped creator Joss Whedon in part finish the story he wanted to tell. Others become so popular that a film makes financial sense, Breaking Bad is surely a big enough hit that a follow up film would bring in enough at the box office.
Perhaps one of the main factors in whether a film sequel to a TV series succeeds is whether there are more stories to tell. Walter White's story ended quite definitively at the end of Breaking Bad but if Gilligan believes there is a worthy tale elsewhere and a film is the best way to tell it then there should be no problem.
With every TV show there is a natural end point, except perhaps the soap operas like East Enders that are intended to run on until the end of the human race. Plenty of series run past their end point and go bad. Poor film adaptations of TV shows come when the series has reached its logical conclusion and someone is determined to milk more out of the franchise. Breaking Bad ended on a perfect note, but if done well a film could bring a satisfying ending to one last loose end. There's really no reason not to try.