Hollywood loves nothing more than making films based on public domain works. From Sherlock Holmes to Tarzan, from H.G. Wells to Edgar Allan Poe, from the earliest animated Disney movie to the most recent animated Disney movie, Hollywood simply can't get enough of it. And what's not to love? With immediate brand recognition and zero royalty payments, it's a foolproof strategy.
Several major works enter the public domain in 2016, and as a result you can expect a bumper year for the commercial exploitation of out-of-copyright material.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince is the first cab off the rank, with three films due to be released in January 2016:
- The Little Prince. A charming animated affair from the director of Kung Fu Panda, featuring the voices of Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Paul Rudd, James Franco, and Marion Cottilard. Sure to please the adults in the audience, and introduce a whole new generation to the beloved tale.
- The Little Prince: Part 1. The first in director Peter Jackson’s planned quadrilogy of Little Prince films. Drawing on letters and notes from de Saint-Exupéry’s estate, Jackson plans to turn this short story into 15 hours of pure tedium, with at least 1,932 helicopter flyover shots.
- The Little Prince: Extermination. The first of Marvel’s planned universe of Little Prince films, this will be followed by The Little Princess in 2017, The Little Earl in 2018, The Little Prince 2: Retribution in 2019, and The Little Chambermaid and The Little Chambermaid 2 both in 2020. The storylines from each of the films will converge in 2021 with The Little Prince 3: Annihilation.
Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream also enters the public domain, and the studios are set to cash in. Two films and one TV show are slated for release in 2016.
- The Scream. Cashing in on the "Golden Age of Television", The Scream is a ten episode series featuring a handful of notable film actors playing against type. Period clothing and bluntly stated themes will impress critics. All your friends will tell you to stick with it, because it's supposed to get good eventually.
- Scream 5. Technically a continuation of the popular Scream series of horror films, I’ve included it in this list because I’m an entertainment journalist and basically make stuff up to pad out my articles.
- The Scream: Extermination. The first of Marvel’s planned universe of Edvard Munch films, this will be followed by The Dance of Life in 2017, Ashes in 2018, The Scream 2: Retribution in 2019, and At the Roulette Table in Monte Carlo in 2020. The storylines from each of the films will converge in 2021 with The Scream 3: Annihilation.
The biggest of them all is Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. This literary gem has been begging for a big-screen adaptation ever since it was penned in a tiny cell in Landsberg Prison, but prohibitive licensing fees have made that all but impossible - until now. A whopping five movies and two TV shows based on the edgy political manifesto have been announced.
- Two and a Half Mein. Hilarious new sitcom from Chuck Lorre, where Adolf Hitler is re-imagined as a homophobic Aryan just trying to get by in a New York City bagelry. Hilarity ensues. Starring Jon Cryer as Adolf Hitler.
- Adolf. Neill Blomkamp has been agitating to make a version of Mein Kampf for a while now. His vision will feature straw-man arguments about political inequality, a handful of impressive visual effects, and a depressing feeling that Blomkamp might be the new M. Night Shyamalan.
- Yo Kampf. After the success of Annie in 2014, Sony is once again casting adorable African Americans in traditionally non-African American roles. And to all the fanboys out there who simply can’t imagine a black Hitler, get over yourselves! Hitler has been white in every documentary since 1945, why not shake things up a little?
- Mein Camphor. This quirky comedy from Woody Allen sees the prolific writer/director/comedian play an ageing Jewish aromatherapist whose split personality is the Nazi Fuhrer. Lengthy conversations on the merits of jazz ensue, as Woody seduces a beautiful prostitute from Venezuela.
- Meine Kampf. Not content with making Hitler black, Sony also plans to release an all-female sequel, titled Meine Kampf (an incorrect reference to the definite feminine article in the German language). Starring Rebel Wilson, Melissa McCarthy, and Eddie Murphy in drag.
- Whose Mein Is It Anyway? Anything goes in this hilarious late-night TV show, as four Jewish comedians are air-dropped into some of the world’s most anti-semitic neighbourhoods. They’ll need more than their galgenhumor to get out of these tricky situations alive!
- Kampfmeiner: Extermination. The first of Marvel’s planned universe of Nazi Germany films, this will be followed by Himmler in 2017, Goering in 2018, Hess and Kampfmeiner 2: Retribution in 2019, and Rommel in 2020 (more of a desert opera, but technically part of the same universe). The storylines from each of the films will converge in 2021 with Kampfmeiner 3: Annihilation.
In unrelated news, the MPAA is lobbying the White House to extend copyright protection for motion pictures to 300 million years.