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'Dragon Riders of Pern' optioned by Warner Bros. for next big fantasy franchise

A green dragon
Public Domain Pagan Art Gallery

Deadline Hollywood reported on Tuesday that Warner Brothers has optioned the entire “Dragon Riders of Pern” series, written by the late Anne McCaffrey, for a possible film franchise. The play seems to be an attempt to use the books as the basis of the next high fantasy series, a genre that has proven to be quite lucrative with “The Lord of the Rings.” “Harry Potter,” and “The Game of Thrones.” There is no word when the first film would come out or who would direct it or write the screenplay.

There have been numerous attempts to bring the Pern books to the big or small screen, dating back from the 1990s. The most infamous attempt took place in 2002 when Ronald Moore, famous for his version of “Battlestar Galactica” and the current “Outlander” tried to make a Pern series. However the project fell apart days before it was supposed to go to production due to creative differences between Moore and the studio. Moore wanted the series to be true to the spirit of the books. The studio, ironically Warner Brothers, wanted to cast the series in a “Buffyesque” manner.

The key, as Io9 suggests, is how the studio approaches adapting the source material. Though the film versions of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” and the TV version of “Game of Thrones” differed in certain respects from the books, the stories and he spirits remained true to the books. The trick would be to hire a skilled film maker who respects the source material and can bring it to life in a way fans of the book will appreciate.

The novels are set on an alien planet which was settled by colonists from Earth many years before. The culture is semi feudal, with various “holds” being ruled by lords. Periodically, Pern comes into close contact with a red son that causes a periodic rain of a substance called “thread” that consumes all organic material it touches, plants, animals, and people. The thread is fought by an elite group of warriors who ride intelligent, telepathic, fire breathing dragons who burn the thread in midair.

The stories have everything that an epic needs to succeed, including conflict, intrigue, and romance in a complex society on an alien world. The series, which began in 1968, also comes with a considerable made to order fan base who can be counted upon to fill movie seats. That will happen, of course, if it is done right and to their satisfaction.

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