Manimal Movie Will Be “More Like Spider-Man”


The stars of the original series

Yesterday, the news broke that short-lived ‘80s series Manimal, about a crime-fighting professor with the ability to transform into any kind of animal, had been optioned for a new movie version by Sony. SFX spoke to Glen A Larson, creator of the TV show, to find out more.

SFX: What level of involvement will you have in the new version of Manimal?

Glen A Larson: “I’ll be involved as a writer and a producer. I like to be involved in the writing if I possibly can – that’s self-defence! Things that go from TV to movies once in a while work great. With Mission Impossible they’ve done four of them, the first Charlie’s Angels was great, but you could look at Starsky And Hutch and a bunch of movies that didn’t quite capture what had made them hits on television. So it can go either way, and if you have your hand in it at least you can guide it.

“Movies are so different than television in the sense that they can take four or five years to get off the ground and they’ll go through dozens of writers. Whereas with TV we’re bound by a clock – they need it for a season, they don’t spend endless amounts of time writing and rewriting, and they get it made in your lifetime! But I predict that if we have our way it’ll go faster rather than slower, because I think they’re anxious to get going.”

In the TV series the transformations were achieved with practical effects. Now there’s CGI – that must allow you to be much more ambitious?”

“Oh yes, and that’s exactly why Sony came to us. It’s the animation arm of Sony that is doing it – not as an animated feature, but because they can do those transitions. [With the TV series] it was the problem of having to get one of those done every week. Now, with this current technology we could do a much better job, so I think it’ll be a number of rungs up the ladder in terms of quality and theatre, and we’ll be able to do more.

Simon MacCorkindale in his half-panther makeup from the TV show

“It was a very deliberate acquisition, because they want family entertainment. So it will probably have more of the spirit of Spider-Man in terms of it having its tongue in its cheek and not being too dark and desperate. We’ll try to have some fun with it.”

Simon MacCorkindale was the original star. Do you think you’d go for an English lead actor again?

“Well, I like the idea of either an English father or relative, or a scientist or doctor, somebody who champions the cause and introduces our young guy to the machinations that he’s able to perform, so that it’s not something that’s totally indigenous to him – it’s come to him either by way of a relative or a PhD of some kind. So it’s a little more confounding and dumbfounding to him when he suddenly finds these transitions taking place – I think we can get a little more fun out of that. In other words, it’s not always happening exactly as planned.”

The exact source of his powers was kept pretty vague in the original – will that change?

“I think we’ll probably get a little further into it – that was another factor of time, I didn’t have a lot of time to develop that. But we’ll play with that – we have a couple of things in mind.”

Read our Manimal DVD review.

The original series of Manimal is now available on DVD in the UK from Fabulous Films (with Automan following on 1 October)

Look out for a Glen A Larson retrospective feature in issue 230 of SFX (on sale in December).