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Actor Will Ferrell during an interview with The Globe and Mail, Toronto December 02 2013. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)
Actor Will Ferrell during an interview with The Globe and Mail, Toronto December 02 2013. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)

Will Ferrell to remake 80s show Manimal for big screen Add to ...

Will Ferrell has enjoyed remarkable screen success portraying an oversized elf, a race-car legend and a deluded TV newsman - so why not a movie about a crime-solver with the ability to turn into an animal?

Deadline.com reports that Ferrell and his frequent collaborator Adam McKay will mount a feature version of Manimal, the action series that came and went in the blink of an eye more than three decades ago.

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Ferrell and McKay will produce the Manimal feature through their production company (along with Jimmy Miller’s Mosaic and original series co-creator Glen A. Larson), with the script currently being penned by the Key & Peele team of Jay Martel and Ian Roberts, reports Deadline.com.

According to the announcement, the Manimal movie will rely on “heavy visual effects and animated elements” and is expected to land in theatres in late 2015.

As for the source material, NBC Manimal launched in the fall of 1983 and cast the late British actor Simon MacCorkindale as Dr. Jonathan Chase, a wealthy man raised in Africa who was secretly “master of the secrets that divide man from animal.”

More to the point, Dr. Chase possessed the ability to turn into an animal at will, which naturally made him the ultimate weapon in the fight against crime.

And even in the early eighties TV era of The A-Team and Knight Rider, Manimal was cheesy fare, as can be evidenced in the show’s opening credits and intro.

Not surprisingly, Manimal lasted only eight weeks ( perhaps because it aired opposite the ratings juggernaut Dallas) and was thereafter relegated to the realm of cult-TV kitsch.

But now Manimal is coming back and this time the concept will be played for laughs.

“I think it’s right down our alley, it’s what we do,” McKay told Deadline. “It’s tongue-in-cheek and has an action component, but overall it’s a comedy.”

The announcement doesn’t confirm that Ferrell will assume the role of the shape-shifting hero, but considering the former Saturday Night Live regular starred in the big-screen reboots of TV shows Bewitched and Land of the Lost, his participation is likely fait accompli.

And although it’s unlikely that the movie version of Manimal will ever garner Oscar nominations, it’s encouraging to see that the people behind the project have high hopes.

“Like The Catcher In The Rye or The Sound And The Fury, Manimal has always been one of those elusive projects every producer dreams of taking to the silver screen,” said McKay. “I know the movie will be funny and entertaining, but will it be the first film to win a Pulitzer? We’ll just have to see.”

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