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Sony Pictures Animation has picked up the movie rights to Manimal, a short-lived 1983 NBC series, and is developing the project as a live action/CG hybrid film.
Glen A. Larson, one of the most prolific TV producers of the ’80s (Magnum P.I., Knight Rider, Battlestar Galactica), created the show and is attached as a producer on the feature.
Manimal followed Dr. Jonathan Chase, a wealthy doctor with a mysterious past, who morphed into animals in order to help the police fight crime.
The show, which starred Brit Simon MacCorkindale and Melody Anderson (who played Dale Arden in the 1980 movie Flash Gordon), was slaughtered by critics and trounced when it aired in 1983 opposite Dallas, then a ratings juggernaut. It was canceled after just eight episodes.
But Manimal was campy — Chase turned into a black panther in every episode and uttered lines like “I was a real pussycat” — and developed a cult following even as it became a punchline. It aired during a pre-Must See TV time at NBC when the network was experimenting with such high-concept fare as Knight Rider and The A-Team to see what would stick.
Sony, which created a live-action/CG franchise last summer with the $500 million-grossing The Smurfs, seems to be raiding the 1980s TV library of late. The Hollywood Reporter reported last month that the studio is developing a live-action/CG adaptation of ALF with series creator Paul Fusco (who also voices the furry, cat-eating alien). A sequel to Smurfs is set for release next summer.
Sony is out to writers for a take on Manimal.
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