24 finale is probably not so finale

The 24 finale is barely over, but the Internet is already abuzz about a 24 movie. With Hollywood struggling and studio executives looking to tap a built-in TV fan base, the series has a good chance of making it to the big screen soon.

Fred Prouser/Reuters/File
Kiefer Sutherland (a.k.a. Jack Bauer) poses at a screening of the 24 finale, which aired on Fox May 24. About 8.9 million people tuned in to watch. Will a 24 movie follow?

The millions of viewers who’ve followed Jack Bauer’s every move for the last eight years will have to get their thrills elsewhere. The final episode of the hit thriller “24” aired Monday night.

Then again, agent Bauer just might live on to fight terrorists another day, maybe on a big screen at a movie theater near you.

The TV credits had barely faded from the screen Monday night when the blogosphere began buzzing about the possibility of a “24” movie, which could be in the works.

Considering the surge of TV shows being made into movies in recent years – Tuesday's premiere of “Sex and the City 2,” based on the hugely popular HBO series, is the latest example – a "24" movie seems likely.

Why is Hollywood mining the airwaves for silver screen hits these days?

“It all has to do with risk,” said Paul Schneider, chairman of the Film and Television Department at Boston University.

For a film industry hit by the recession, a movie with a built-in audience is a safe investment.

“The calculation is, if it did really well on TV – if everyone’s heard of it – take that recognition and turn into a feature film,” said Dr. Schneider.

There are generally two categories of shows that are being made into movies these days:

• Remakes of classics (many of which weren’t necessarily big hits in their own day) like “The Dukes of Hazzard,” which aired on the small screen in the 1970s and was made into a movie in 2005. These films seek to attract younger date movie audiences and older folks who remember the shows from their youth.

• Remakes of recent hit shows, like “Sex and the City” and “The Simpsons." These aim to cash in on the shows’ success.

Both types of adaptations generally consist of lighter fare – comedies or action movies – aimed at a summer blockbuster audience. They’re meant to rake in big bucks for the studios.

But that’s not always the case. Many TV show adaptations don’t actually do so well in movie theaters. “Bewitched” (yep, the 1960s series was remade in 2005) performed dismally at the box office, costing $85 million to make and grossing just $63 million domestically.

The trend also does not necessarily make for good film. “Very few of these movies are being done for an artistic purpose,” said Schneider. And with movie executives hedging their bets and investing in TV adaptations with blockbuster potential, original mid-budget movies are getting squeezed out of the market.

Here are some of the higher and lower grossing TV-to-movie adaptations and their domestic box office receipts, according to Box Office Mojo:

Mission: Impossible” franchise (1996, 2000) $530 million

The Simpsons Movie” (2007) $183 million

“Sex and the City” (2008): $153 million

“Get Smart” (2008): $130 million

“Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” (2003): $100 million

Starsky and Hutch” (2004): $88 million

“The Dukes of Hazzard” (2005): $88 million

South Park: Bigger, Louder, Uncut” (1999): $52 million

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