'Little House on the Prairie' Had a Movie in the Works That Would've Been Extremely Dark

Little House on the Prairie has maintained an affectionate fanbase nearly 40 years after it went off the air in 1983. Running for nine seasons and 204 episodes, the series was based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s semi-autobiographical book series. It starred Melissa Gilbert as Laura, as well as Michael Landon and Karen Grassle as her parents.

The series inspired various other adaptations, including a 2005 miniseries, but none managed to match the staying power of the original. However, there was one project during the last decade that certainly would’ve thrown longtime fans through a loop had it come to fruition and is worth looking into: a theatrical feature film.

What happened to the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ film?

As reported by outlets like SlashFilm, Sony Pictures began developing a Little House on the Prairie feature film in 2012 with David Gordon Green attached to direct. Green was an odd fit for a property with such a wholesome reputation, known now for arthouse indie films like George Washington, raunchy comedies like Pineapple Express, and the recent Halloween revival.

Green didn’t last long on the project, as the same outlet reported in 2014 that an even more beguiling name had replaced him: Sean Durkin. Durkin was at the time known best for 2011’s Marth Marcy May Marlene, an indie drama about an insidious cult that was notable for a few reasons. For starters, it was Elizabeth Olsen’s first major acting role. Secondly, it was an utterly bleak and devastating examination of the trauma inflicted on a young woman during her time in said abusive cult and the ways that it poisoned her relationships with family.

Needless to say, “bleak and devastating” are not the descriptor that first jump to mind when longtime fans consider Little House on the Prairie. In fact, they probably don’t occur to them at all.

As a fairly singular and dedicated filmmaker, its hard to imagine that Durkin would have reined in his sensibilities for that project. Many assumed at the time that his involvement would result in a Little House on the Prairie film more grounded in the harsh realities and horrors of frontier life. So, whatever the opposite of comfort viewing is.

Is the movie still happening?

Whatever Durkin’s film would’ve been like, we’ll never know. Speaking with Interview Magazine in 2020 to promote his first film in nine years, The Nest, the filmmaker referenced the project as a “great adaptation” that “didn’t work out.” Guess we’ll have to stick with the classic show for now.

Where is ‘Little House on the Prairie’ streaming?

As an NBC title, Little House on the Prairie is currently available to stream on Peacock. That includes all nine seasons as well as Little House: The Last Farewell, the made-for-TV movie follow-up. All episodes and the movie are premium only, so you’ll have to pony up $4.99-$9.99 to start streaming.

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