In the United States, movie studios generally wait until television shows have been canceled for years before making a film version. Why is that? Different audiences? Different expectations? Desire to milk a show dry of creative ideas before reaping millions in syndication and sales of DVD box sets? It's different in Japan. As Mark Schilling of The Japan Times points out, "Japanese drama shows usually have limited runs of 11 episodes or so, no matter how stratospheric their ratings. They can have profitable afterlives on DVD and other media, but not the sort of syndicated eternities enjoyed by the most popular U.S. shows. Japanese producers have explained this difference to me by saying that, for local audiences, dramas are like news -- and thus naturally have short life cycles."

Some shows, however, can roar back to life on the big screen. Popular 1997 TV series Bayside Shakedown inspired four movie versions over a period of seven years. More recently, the 2001 series Hero was revived for a special that aired in July 2006 to great success, followed by a feature version that was released in September and has proven to be the year's biggest box office hit.

Chihiro Kameyama is the man behind the success of both Bayside Shakedown and Hero. (I talked briefly with him for an article in AFI Fest Daily News a couple of years ago; he's very sharp, focused and engaged.) His latest TV-to-movie property is based on the new hit show Galileo; Variety reports that filming on the movie version, entitled Suspect X, will start early next year with the goal of completing the film in time for a fall 2008 release. Galileo stars Masahuru Fukuyama "as a misfit physicist who helps girl cop Kou Shibasaki (pictured; Maiko Haaan!!!, Memories of Matsuko) solve crimes." The series is based on a novel by mystery writer Keigo Higashino; Variety says the movie will be based on another novel by Higashino.