What was the first science fiction motion picture to be released in theatres, adapted from an original television program? I'm looking for an answer that wasn't a comic strip first, or a radio serial turned TV show.

For example: Flash Gordon was based on a comic strip and The War of the Worlds was a radio show before it was a TV movie or a Hollywood film, so neither could qualify as the correct answer.

3 Answers 3


Looking through this Wikipedia category, the oldest movie I see that fits the bill is The Quatermass Xperiment (released in 1955, based on the 1953 BBC serial The Quatermass Experiment). The Wikipedia article for the TV show claims it was

the first science-fiction production to be written especially for an adult television audience

though its cite for that seems to have link-rotted away. This suggests that you're going to have trouble finding anything much older.

If you want a movie based on a show of indefinite length rather than a miniseries, the oldest I can find is Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965).

  • Was the theatrical release something new based on the TV serial? Or was it simply the TV serial edited into a movie? (I know the Dr. Who movies were completely separate productions, rather than TV episodes edited together seamlessly).
    – RDFozz
    Nov 8, 2018 at 17:54
  • I'm not familiar enough with it to comment on how different it was from the serial, but it's definitely not just an edited version: if you check IMDB, you'll see that they have totally different casts.
    – Micah
    Nov 8, 2018 at 18:40
  • That answers my question - thanks!
    – RDFozz
    Nov 8, 2018 at 19:11
  • @RDFozz: I'm familiar with Quatermass, the movie was a completely different story, using the familiar characters - but different actors - from the TV show. Oct 7, 2022 at 8:09

I'm sure there's probably earlier, but this is the oldest that comes to mind for me: Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Star Trek the TV series aired from 1966 through 1969, and the (first) movie was released December 7, 1979.


Buck Rogers was a live action TV series that ran on ABC in 1950-51. Buck Rogers in he 25th Century was released in the theaters March 1979 first before the TV series aired on TV.

  • 3
    Buck Rogers was a comic strip first, beginning 1929.
    – GEdgar
    Oct 7, 2022 at 7:50

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