New take: A drone camera used to capture some of the action in the series. Photo: Ben King
It worked, too: it was the biggest Australian film of 2010, taking almost $13.5 million.
So, why remake it, so soon?
"It's not a remake as such, it's a new take," says producer Michael Boughen, who also made the film. "The novels always lent themselves to serialisation. In a series, you can open it up, deal with all the issues John's books talk about in lots more detail. There's a lot of really good fodder there."
This version is a six-part series for the children's channel ABC3. Ultimately, Boughen hopes to make three or four series, though that obviously will depend on how well this one goes.
He hopes he's making something that will appeal to parents as well as kids – what the networks refer to as a "co-viewing" proposition. "There's 20 years of history there," he says. "People who were reading them as teenagers can now hopefully revisit them with their own kids."
That's the great thing about kids' fiction: every year, there's a new audience for it. "There's an extremely long tail with kids' television," Boughen says, "whereas a movie goes out, makes a splash and disappears".
Still, the trick to maximising that long tail is to make sure you don't load your show with of-the-moment references that will look dreadfully dated two in three years' time.
So, there will be no nods to Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran. But there will be technology (perhaps the thing most prone to dating of all).
"We've set in today's environment and time," Boughen says. "The communications process has changed since John wrote the novels – the internet, phones, the way kids communicate with each other."
The invaders cut off the communications network and install their own closed satellite system.
"So our characters will know the frustration of not being able to connect. No Facebook, Snapcha, Twitter – they have to rediscover traditional modes of communication. They can't look up on the internet how to do X, Y, Z; they have to work out how to do things by themselves."
To your average teenager, that probably sounds a lot more terrifying than any explosion ever could.