In Hollywood, you only get one chance at engaging audiences with an idea. If the audience remains unengaged, any chances of trying a fresh approach goes out of the window. Something similar happened to a planned reboot of the original Baywatch tv show, which, according to cast member David Cokachi on an episode of the podcast The Production Meeting, was going to get a modern series reboot until its movie adaptation got in the way.
“I had pitched them, they rebooted every show from the ’90s and I’d say half of them were hits. I was like, ‘Why are you guys lagging on this, why didn’t you try and strike?… Then the movie came out and the movie squashed any idea. CBS was going to do the show, I had a meeting with them, a location scout. Then the movie came out and instead CBS went with [Magnum PI] that year.”
The Baywatch movie featuring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, and Alexandra Daddario took the conceit of the original series, that is, hot lifeguards saving the day while looking hot, and attempted to create an action-comedy out of it, replete with evil hotel developers, potty humor and one nude male corpse too many.
The film opened to middling reviews, effectively putting the kibosh on any plans to continue the franchise as a film series. The nostalgia factor also did not work in the movie’s favor, with Pamela Anderson, the original Baywatch babe, openly stating that the film was not to her taste.
“I didn’t like it. Let’s just keep the bad TV as bad TV. That’s what’s charming about Baywatch, you know? Trying to make these movies out of television is just messing with it. USD 65 million would make a good movie. We made our show for like USD 500,000, you have the same explosions, the same sequences of water. That’s the fun part; being creative,”
Most Baywatch fans agree its premise works better as a mid-budget show than a high-budget feature film. The storylines from Baywatch were never something that translated very well to the big screen, unlike a show like 21 Jump Street, whose inbuilt premise of cops chasing criminals while pretending to be high school students easily lends itself to big-budget car chases and action scenes.
Unfortunately, based on Cokachi’s remarks, it seems unlikely that fans will be able to witness a tv reboot of Baywatch anytime soon. Unless some streaming service decides to step in and present a home to the series reboot on the internet. A large part of the strategy of streaming platforms to lure older audiences is to give them older shows repackaged for current times, like Fuller House and Raven’s Home. It would make sense for such a strategy to work with the original Baywatch as well, since the show still enjoys huge popularity amongst a certain generation of viewers, and has been a pop-culture staple for decades. This news comes from The Production Meeting.