Magnum P.I.: Coming to Big Screen, But Without Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck as Magnum P.I. on TV, not in the moviesTom Selleck starred as the sexy and Hawaiian shirt-wearing private investigator Thomas Magnum for eight seasons on CBS. The Hawaii-based action adventure series Magnum P.I. ran for 157 episodes from 1980 – 1988 and also starred actors John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley and Larry Manetti. Like many other popular classic shows, the series has been rumored to get “the big screen treatment” for years but now it looks like it may finally happen.

It’s being reported that Rawson Marshall Thurber (director and writer of Dodgeball and the upcoming The Mysteries of Pittsburgh) has completed a redraft of a Magnum script. Thurber was signed to write and direct the project in early 2006.

In addition, much of the film’s main cast has already been chosen — with new actors in the familiar roles. For now, the word is that Matthew McConaughey will play Thomas Magnum, with Tyrese Gibson as chopper flying T.C. Calvin, Steve Zahn as friend Rick Wright, and William H. Macy as the uptight Jonathan Higgins.

No word yet on the script particulars but the film will take place in the modern day. This time, Magnum, T.C. and Rick will be war buddies from the Iraq War instead of Vietnam. Last year, Thurber said that he envisioned that, like the series, the film would be an action-oriented with humorous elements. He also said the Hawaii-based story would depict the time before Magnum became a private investigator — sort of a “Magnum Begins” storyline.

Unfortunately for fans of the TV series, it doesn’t look like the original castmembers will have any part in the project. Back in May 2006, while on a press tour for a Jesse Stone TV movie, Tom Selleck said of the Magnum pic, “I won’t be in it and I won’t be doing some stupid cameo.” (Selleck supposedly has been offered Magnum TV films in the past but had rejected them in hopes that a big-screen reunion would be forthcoming.)

It doesn’t sound like Selleck will be missed from the new version. Director/Writer Thurber has said, “My guiding principles for the adaptation are these: no short shorts, no cameos, no moustaches. It’s a title you know, a theme song you love and a kick-ass Ferrari.”

Personally, I’ll reserve judgement until I see it but I don’t think the show has had such enduring popularity because of the title, theme song and the car. Hopefully this TV show adaptation will be better made than other recent attempts (Bewitched, Dukes of Hazzard, Fat Albert, etc.). I’ll keep you posted on new details as they become available so stay tuned… and aloha! TV Series Finale home page

Canceled and renewed TV show

32 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. JR says

    Whichever studio and director had the clout to make a Magnum movie in the early 90s sure dropped the ball. Why didn’t they make the movie with the original actors, while they were all still alive and looking the parts? Idiots! Matt Mac as Magnum? You would have to hire Selleck write his character’s part, complete with wit, humor and personality. None of the executives slated for this new movie had anything to do with the original series. It would not be the same.

    I agree with Selleck… if they cannot pay homage to the original series, in the new characters, including the shorts, ‘stach and car, then don’t bother at all. They waited too late. Higgy baby is dead.

  2. Joe says

    Leave the thing alone. there is only one Magnum that is Selleck.
    He made the role what it was . I you want to do make it as they would be today.

  3. robin masters says

    I can understand all the changes- making Magnum, TC, and Rick Iraq vets, using younger actors, etc.- but Matthew McConnaughey? Good God, Steve Zahn would be a better Magnum than McConnaughey. At least Zahn has some range. That’s flat out insulting to fans of the original series. Just pathetic. And while I think Macy could be a decent Higgins, I fear he’ll play the character as a sad, pathetic joke, just as he did Admiral Sandecker in Sahara.

    The real trouble though- and this is why movie remakes of old shows usually fail- is that there was some magic and chemistry that made it work originally, and you can’t recapture that. It was based on the people, the places, and the circumstances in which it existed. It’s like running into your best friend from high school with whom you no longer have anything in common, or an old flame long after the heat is gone- what you had was great, but it’s just gone, and you’re better off savoring the memories than trying to rekindle it. That’s what will happen with this movie. It will be okay but eminently forgettable, with not even a hint of the flair of the original.

    By the by, as a fellow famous author, and as a movie viewer who though Sahara was a horrible movie and an insult to the book, it’s fans, and it’s author, I fully support Clive Cussler’s legal action.

    Jonathan Higgins ER, UM, I MEAN Robin Masters

  4. PB says

    In the words of Jonathan Higgins, “OH – MY – GOD!!!”

    The thing is, there will be plenty of people who had fond memories of the TV series, but unlike 90% of people who have posted here, and myself, arent willing to go to the lengths of buying the DVDs and reinvigorating their love of the original series… What will happen is those people will go and see the movie, and will be wondering “I wonder if its as good as I remember” and be sorely disappointed by the movie. This movie will not be for the fans… anyone who is a true fan of The Mag will not go to this movie, especially with a first rate cheesemeister like McConnaughey in the lead role. What a joke. But people will go. The people who remember liking Magnum but might not necessarily want to revisit the original series.

    Why oh why does Hollywood have to remake every bloody thing? Some things are sacred. Mr Thurber, have you ever listened to that little voice that is always talking away inside your head? Well your little voice should be shouting “Dont Do It!” If the rumors are true, and the casting is who they say, it will be a parody remake, like Starsky and Hutch but worse. Magnum was unique in that it could be light hearted and whimsical, then intelligent, while being undeniably serious, and then also totally profound and full of very deep observations. Very rarely, if ever, has any other TV series come close to this level of quality. Except maybe Miami Vice. And that remake sucked too! Thurbers comments show that he doesnt really care about recreating the true spirit of Magnum, only about making a quick dollar. As I said, the true fans wont have a bar of this. I will avoid this movie like the plague… I would be too afraid that it would taint my appreciation of THE REAL Magnum PI, which is the greatest TV series ever. Ever.

    Mr Thurber, you should be liberally beaten around the head with a rubber chicken!!!! TM has one in his closet, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind lending it out for a moment or two….

  5. says

    I worked on an episode of Magnum P.I. in 1987 in several capacities including acting in one scene. The show had its own culture, which I found fascinating. Few films based on TV series have been successful, or memorable. They are obviously designed to capitalize on the name and reputation of the original, but seldom deliver much more than that. With new casts, updating and certain changes of the original given circumstances, the only resemblance is usually the film’s name and the names of some of the characters. If the scripts were good enough to merit making these films, it would be better to make an original film and there would be no reason to rip-off the original. Unfortunately, most of the scripts aren’t worth making and relay on hype, first weekend receipts and DVD sales and rentals to generale revenues rather than quality or originality.
    I applaud Tom Selleck for not wanting to be involved.

  6. R J says

    Matthew as Thomas Sullivan Magnum? You have got to be kidding? Oh wait that’s right it is a lame Hollywood remake. It will tank. Now bring back TM, Rick, TC, Johnathan Quail Higgins, Agatha and the lads, throw in some flashbacks, Michelle, Lilli, Buck Green, Lt. Comander Maggie…and it will make millions not only at the box office but DVD’s sales as well.

  7. kade says

    Magnum P.I. movie with out Magnum, higgins, TC, Rick, Agatha and the lads just would not work. Mass dissapoinment for all the massive fans like my self.

  8. Jonathan Foster says

    Magnum PI without Tom Selleck, what a joke!!! If Tom Selleck does not play Magnum in the new movie I won’t be seeing the movie and I know alot of people who feel the same.

  9. D.H. says

    Everyone has seen magnum PI its not that old, its not like the fugative where your dad might remember it from his childhood and the people who are going to the movies cant remember the cast. Its not even as if tom selleck and co are too old to take on the roles. I’m too young to remember Magnum when it first came out in the early 80s but i do remember watching repeats on tv and have 3 seasons on DVD so far. but heres my point. While I might pay top dollar to see Magnum on the big screen I’d rather not see a movie at all without the original cast and location.

  10. TOM.SELLECK says


  11. Liz Binkley says

    Magnum PI-what can I say-even my kids (ages 20, 18, 7 and 2) love it. We are not interested in a Matthew McConaughy version-it just won’t be the same. Yes, you will make money–but fans will be sorely dissappointed. Many recent remakes did not fair so well. I’d rather watch Tom Selleck in something else now-like the Jesse Stone series. Eventhough he is older now, he hasn’t lost his charm. Count us out for the re-make. James Garner did several made for TV movies of the Rockford Files–and he was older, but the charm and magic of the cast of chacters were what brought the fans together. Thanks Tom, John, Roger and Larry for your wonderful theatrical talents. You are missed.
    Magnum PI–one of the best TV series ever made.

  12. kygail says

    Cannot imagine a Magnum, PI without Tom Selleck and the “boys” – Zeus and Apollo included. Not a chance I would waste any of my hard-earned money on a Magnum movie without MAGNUM.

Leave a Comment

Your comment may need approval from a moderator before it appears. We review comments to weed out spam, duplicate postings and personal attacks. We welcome constructive discussion.