Last weekend, director Peter Berg told attendees at a Television Critics Association event that he and Friday Night Lights series showrunner Jason Katims are working on a big-screen version of the television show, possibly for theatrical release as early as next year. Berg co-wrote and directed the original 2004 feature film Friday Night Lights and executive produced the acclaimed NBC/DirectTV series that just wrapped up its four-year, five-season run.
That would give the new Friday Night Lights movie an interesting relationship with the 2004 version. The first film stars Billy Bob Thornton as Gary Grimes, the coach of the Permian High School football team in Odessa, Texas, and was based on real people (like Grimes) and real events as reported by H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger in his terrific 1990 nonfiction book of the same title. (Fun fact: Peter Berg and Bissinger are cousins.)
When Berg brought Friday Night Lights to NBC in 2006, he maintained much of his film’s atmospheric mood, riveting dramatic tone, and naturalistic acting. However, the characters were no longer based on real-life people, and the small Texas town and team became the fictional Dillon Panthers. (Although actress Connie Britton still played the coach’s wife, just a different wife of a different coach.)
Berg and Katims both suggest that the new film will not be a sequel to the first one, but instead follow the TV-show narrative and feature–they hope–many of the series’ tremendous actors, including stars Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Coach Eric Taylor and his wife Tami, as well as “several other” characters and actors from the show.
Katims also told Entertainment Weekly he’s working to write a film script that “both honor[s] the series and [doesn't] move away from that, but still… would be a satisfying movie in and of itself.” Katims has also suggested that while the TV series ended this summer with a big geographic change for the Taylors, this new feature film could jump ahead several years, and Berg has hinted that the Taylors would potentially still be the at the center of the film, which of course would be mainly set in Texas.
It’s unlikely former actor Berg himself would direct the feature film, as his dance card is full these days. The director of The Rundown, The Kingdom, and Hancock is busy preparing next summer’s big action-movie Battleship starring Taylor Kitsch. (See the trailer here.) Kitsch played Friday Night Lights‘ reformed bad boy Tim Riggins (and has a busy 2012 coming up, with John Carter of Mars also on the schedule). Berg will likely follow up Battleship in 2013 with Lone Survivor, also starring Kitsch and based on a real-life 2005 anti-terrorist Navy SEALS mission. (His planned Dune remake is back on the shelf for now.)
Friday Night Lights the series was a big boost for seasoned vets like Britton and Chandler (appearing this summer in Super 8). And in addition to Kitsch, the show launched the young careers of Prom‘s Aimee Teegarden (as the Taylors’ daughter), the star of The Roommate and the new Charlie’s Angels series Minka Kelly (as “good-girl” heartbreaker Lyla Garrity), and Adrianne Palicki (as “bad girl” Tyra), who appeared in Legion and was almost the new Wonder Woman in the never-picked-up TV series. It also featured fine work from young actors Zach Gilford, Scott Porter, Gaius Charles, and Jesse Plemons.
All those “bad boy,” “good girl” shorthand tags glibly undermine the rich emotional complexity of Friday Night Lights‘ characters and stories. You hear it a lot, but while the show never grabbed huge ratings, it truly was the best hour-long drama on network TV in recent years.
So what say you all about another Friday Night Lights feature film?
Vote in the poll, and then explain your “yay,” “nay,” or “maybe” in the comments below
More from the cast of Friday Night Lights at redbox:
- Minka Kelly in The Roommate and Just Go with It (on DVD and Blu-ray)
- Adrianne Palicki in Elektra Luxx
- Connie Britton in Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 (on DVD and Blu-ray)
- Taylor Kitsch as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- Jesse Plemons in Observe and Report
- Aimee Teegarden coming soon in Scream 4 and Prom