#2 Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Pitch: The ultra-violent Japanese cult hit has basically the same setup as The Hunger Games, only with lots of guns and without the ’70s glam makeovers.
Upside: Nowadays, it’s tough for a TV show to feel dangerous. The first season of CBS’ Survivor pulled it off. Starz Spartacus, which stretched the boundaries of gore and sex for a cable drama, did it too. And so did AMC’s The Walking Dead — remember that first scene with Rick Grimes shooting a child zombie in her bunny slippers? If executed correctly, Battle Royale would be a must-watch, high-buzz show. With The Hunger Games blowing up the box office with the teen-friendly two-hour version of this concept, there’s room for an R-rated, uncompromising multi-season version. It’s like a reality show where being voted off the island means a character dies; a structure that can be re-set each year. Writers could drizzle in serialized nuggets (such as who is running the games and how to stop them) while previous “winners” could return to the competition (which happened in the book too).
Downside: Do you need to ask? Teen gun-play on TV is radioactive in the wake of Sandy Hook. One could argue that such sensitivities are exactly why this subject is worth candidly exploring in a commercial art medium like television, but that’s one of those intellectual-sounding points that tend to get shouted down during a media frenzy. Still, if I’m making an honest list of a books that could make great TV shows, Battle Royale should be on it. One option: Having “contestants” of all ages and from all walks of life instead of just a high school class arguably has more dramatic potential and will draw a wider audience while making the story less about kids killing kids.
Perfect Home: Starz (The CW recently looked into the rights, but, yeah, not happening). And finally…