Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, through the auspices of their Gary Sanchez Productions shingle, will be teaming with producers Jimmy Miller and Glen A. Larson to bring the 1983 television series Manimal to the big screen. Jay Martel and Ian Roberts, who serve as executive producers on Comedy Central’s Key & Peele sketch series, have been hired to write the film. No director has been attached to the project yet.
The project has been in development at Sony Pictures since 2012, when they attached the series co-creator Larson to it.
Starring British actor Simon MacCorkindale as Dr. Jonathan Chase, with Flash Gordon‘s Melody Anderson, Manimal centered on a doctor helped the police fight crime through the use of his (fairly unexplained) ability to transform into a variety of different animals. Although theoretically he could turn into any animal, the show usually just featured Chase turning into a black panther or a hawk. The transformation effect for the pilot were designed and created by Stan Winston.
The series ran for just eight episodes before NBC pulled the plug. And while it was reviled by critics and ignored by audiences, the show’s premise was goofy enough for it to stay in the zeitgeist, if only as a punchline.
According to Deadline, the studio wants Manimal to be reinvented as “an action-comedy with heavy visual effects and animated elements.” But let us not forget the last time that Ferrell took on a an old television series with an outrageous high concept and played it for laughs. That was 2009’s Land Of The Lost and do we really want to experience that again?