Breaking Bad is coming back as a movie, Bryan Cranston says, because Hollywood loves a good brand
It’s not clear if Bryan Cranston (right) or Aaron Paul will be involved in the movie. (www.morethanjustmodels.com)
The world of Breaking Bad is getting a movie-length treatment.
Actor Bryan Cranston, who played science-teacher-turned-meth-cook Walter White, has confirmed the movie is happening, though what shape it will take remains unclear.
Filming is about to begin in New Mexico, where the original TV series was set and shot, according to The Albuquerque Journal.
Warning: this article contains plot spoilers
The New Mexico Film Office confirmed a film called Greenbrier, about a kidnapped man’s quest for freedom, was about to begin production but would not confirm reports it was related to Breaking Bad.
Cranston said he had not seen a script, but had spoken to series creator Vince Gilligan about the film.
“There’s a question of whether we would even see Walter White in this movie,” Cranston told radio host Dan Patrick.
“If Vince Gilligan asked me to do it, sure, absolutely. He’s a genius and it’s a great story and there’s a lot of people who felt that they wanted to see some kind of completion to some of these storylines that were left open.
“This idea, from what I am told, gets into those — at least a couple of the characters who were not completed as far as their journey [is concerned].”
We don’t yet know where the film will appear — as a TV movie or in cinemas — or which members of the show’s cast will return, including Aaron Paul, who played drug-dealing no-hoper Jesse Pinkman.
Pop culture loves spin-offs, remakes and reboots
This is the second project related to Breaking Bad.
After the 16-Emmy-winning show ended in 2013, Gilligan created Better Call Saul, which follows the titular dodgy lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk. That show has been popular and will return for a fifth series.
The push to milk this rich universe for extra content is part of pop culture’s current obsession with giving you the stuff you already love.
“At the moment we are presently in what feels like the eye of the storm in terms of remake culture and remix culture,” says Luke Buckmaster, a film and TV critic at The Guardian and flicks.com.au.
You see it everywhere: Sea Change is coming back, Sabrina The Teenage Witch has been revived. In the past few years it was Twin Peaks, Gilmore Girls, and Will & Grace.
Bryan Cranston played Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who starts cooking meth after learning he has terminal cancer. (www.screenjunkies.com)
In the entertainment industry, what prompts a studio to throw money at a project has changed, Buckmaster says.
“It used to be that stars would drive a film’s popularity at the box office,” he said. “Now it’s all about brands.
“I think it’s just a matter of time before we get a Sopranos movie — without Tony, of course — or a Mad Men movie.”
Critic Dan Barrett, from the online newsletter Always Be Watching, agreed, likening it to an announcement this week that AMC, the network that aired Breaking Bad in the US, would soon be making three films based on its popular TV series The Walking Dead.
“Audiences today, swamped by choice, are seeking brands and on-screen worlds that they already have some familiarity with,” Barrett said.
“AMC are feeding into this by giving audiences what they want, but delivering familiar material in a way that feels different.”
Where would a Breaking Bad movie take the characters?
Both critics say there is plenty still to mine in the Breaking Bad storyline, and that Gilligan has proven his ability to make quality work.
In the final scene of the fifth season, after White uses a home-rigged robotic machine gun to kill a gang of neo-Nazis, Jesse is shown driving away in a hysterical state as Walter dies of a gunshot wound.
Reports on Thursday suggested the film would look at what became of Jesse after that moment.
Aaron Paul (left) and Bryan Cranston won numerous awards for their performances in Breaking Bad. (Reuters: Lucy Nicholson)
“The underlying themes of Breaking Bad have always been connected to the characters’ morality and self-perception of whether they are in the right with the choices they make,” Barrett said.
“A Breaking Bad film can go in any number of directions, but as long as it stays true to the established themes of Breaking Bad, I think fans will be satisfied by whatever Vince Gilligan comes up with.”
Buckmaster said a movie based on Breaking Bad would be worthwhile given the TV series was “one of the greatest, and certainly one of the most cinematic, programs in history”.
Last year, Gilligan told News Breakfast he felt a lot of pressure to nail the final episode, watched live by more than 10 million people when it aired in the US.
“I was thinking about The Sopranos — which actually I like the ending of — but it was polarising,” he said.
“Selfishly, I didn’t want to be polarising. I wanted everyone to love it.”