After months and months of speculation about an Arrested Development movie, it was announced a few weeks ago that it will actually happen. Movies based on TV shows have become commonplace but it’s extremely rare for a show’s original cast to make the transition. With that in mind, is it realistic to expect that movie plans won’t get derailed and that the Bluths will really return?
Arrested Development ran from November 2, 2003 to February 10, 2006 on the FOX network. The offbeat sitcom follows the dysfunctional Bluth family and features the talents of Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, John F. Beard, and Mae Whitman. Despite critical acclaim, the series never caught on with a big audience. Still, the show has been a big seller on DVD.
Now that the Arrested movie’s been given a greenlight, you’d think that series creator Mitch Hurwitz would be busy working on the script. Not so. Though he has lots of ideas, Hurwitz recently told Fancast that he won’t get started writing until the cast has signed on.
There have been rumors that one castmember has been a holdout. Both Arnett’s and Cera’s names have come up as possible culprits. Hurwitz says, “I don’t want to talk about who is holding out right now because we might still work that out and I don’t want to pressure anyone through the press… Although I will say that Will Arnett is gung-ho, so there’s a big clue!”
Though Hurwitz has yet to nail down the exact plot, he is willing to tease with a few of the storyline possibilities. “I think in some respect it would have to pick up where the show left off. Maybe the benefit of that would be, if nothing else, just to recap everything. There are a couple of ways to get into it. I was even thinking about a big animated sequence to start. Kind of like how the Blake Edwards movies used to start — to kind of catch everyone up.”
He also says that the movie could potentially be a movie within a movie. In the final episode, cousin Maeby Funke (Shawkat) pitched director Ron Howard the idea of dramatizing her life story as a TV show. Prophetically, Howard responded, “I don’t see it as a series. Maybe a movie.” Of course, fans of the show know that Howard is the series’ narrator and one of its executive producers. It’s likely that Howard will have a similar role for the big screen version.
Another option could be to make the movie a prequel to the series. That would neccesitate younger characters being recast. Though that option could be a solution to Cera’s not taking part, the size of Shawkat’s role could be negatively affected.
On the positive side, a prequel could open the door to examine some storylines that fans have always wondered about, including the deceased wife of Michael Bluth (Bateman). The series creator says, “There were a couple of areas where I always sort of held back, where I always felt like if I needed to deal with at some point, I could. One of them is definitely that story [with Michael’s wife], and who those people are, and what effect that has on this kid. I don’t know if we’d necessarily see her.”
Hurwitz maintains that if, for whatever reason, the movie plans get derailed, the show will go on. He says that his ideas for the Bluths could find a home online or via a direct-to-DVD release. He notes, “It’s too much fun for us all. The fans have been so supportive and so sincere in their fondness for it. That’s really the big motivation to make the film. It sounds kind of corny. It’s not like it’s going to pay very much! It’s a really low budget film and it’s going to be a ton of work, but it just kind of feels like… well, people are so great about responding to this.” Stay tuned!