EXCLUSIVE: Lifeguard drama Baywatch is coming back to television screens around the world. FremantleMedia International has remastered the David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson-fronted series into HD and will start shopping it to global broadcasters, while also eyeing a new reboot of the franchise.
The RTL-owned producer and distributor has remastered all 242 episodes of the show into high definition, as well as introducing contemporary songs and moving it from 4:3 to 16:9 to try and attract the attention of a new generation of fans.
FremantleMedia International COO Bob McCourt told Deadline that despite the mixed reviews of the Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron-fronted 2017 feature film, the big-screen attempt rejuvenated the brand and encouraged the company to update the original 35MM prints of the series. Overseen by original Baywatch producers Michael Berk, Greg Bonann and Doug Schwartz, the company worked with two post-production companies, Warner Bros and Illuminate, to transfer the original series into the new format. “The results are phenomenal. When you have the sea and obviously it’s set on the beach, it was such a colorful series, so that color really comes out when you put it into HD,” he said. It has also replaced 300 songs with contemporary songs from new artists with the help of original composer Corey Lerios, while keeping the original theme tune. See the two versions below (old, top, new, bottom).
The distributor will now approach international broadcasters as well as streaming platforms. The show has continued to perform well globally, particularly in Europe, where it still airs on RTL in Germany, TF1 in France and Mediaset in Italy. McCourt said the show doesn’t looked “dated”. “It still looks quite contemporary and the storylines stand up. It doesn’t actually look that old fashioned,” he added.
This comes after FremantleMedia unravelled a relatively complex rights situation. The show was originally produced by Gannett for NBC but was cancelled after one season. Then the Baywatch producers bought the rights and produced a version with All American Television for syndication, with the help of financing from German distributor Beta Taurus, part of the Kirch group in Germany and ITV.
All American Television was later subsumed into Pearson, then FremantleMedia, giving the latter the rights. However, Beta, which distributes series such as Babylon Berlin, had the international rights until recently, when FremantleMedia took over global control.
Given the current trend of remaking series from the 1980s and 1990s, McCourt said a remake has “definitely been discussed”. “I think we thought the film might have given us reason to reboot the TV series, but given the mixed reviews that didn’t happen straight away. I think if this remastered version is sold extensively and a new audience comes to Baywatch, then it will give us a real indication as to whether a new series could be successful. We would definitely think seriously about making a new series and maybe we’ll get approached by some broadcasters about making one,” he added.