Sony Pictures Animation has picked up the movie rights to Manimal, a short-lived television series that aired on NBC in the early 1980s, 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 Simon McCorkindale and Melody Anderson (who played Dale Arden in the 1980 Flash Gordon movie), was slaughtered by critics and trounced when it aired in 1983 opposite Dallas, then a ratings juggernaut. It was cancelled after just eight episodes.
But the show was campy – Chase turned into a black panther in every episode – 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 high-concept fare such as 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. THR 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 now out to writers for a take on Manimal.