It looks as though Warner Bros. is adapting the Dragonriders of Pern novels for the big screen, with the intent of launching a new multi-platform franchise. For those not familiar, the Dragonriders series is a sci-fi/fantasy amalgam that takes place in the world of Pern, where Dragonriders – warriors that form a telepathic bond with dragons which allows them to work together – must battle a dangerous airborne spore (“Thread”) that is capable of devastating the Pernese environment.
Dragonriders was started up by American-Irish author Anne McCaffrey in 1967 with a pair of novellas, before the first full-blown novel (titled “Dragonflight”) was published a year later. The property now encompasses 22 books and multiple short stories, which have spanned around 2500 years of history from the Dragonriders universe; as such, there is a plethora of material to be drawn from for inspiration, where it concerns the film adaptation(s).
Deadline is reporting that WB executive Drew Crevello, who worked on the X-Men movie franchise during his time as VP at 20th Century Fox, and producer Julia Spiro (Now You See Me) are involved with development on the Dragonriders movie. A few years back, screenwriter David Hayter (The Scorpion King, X2) was reported to have begun work on a film adaptation of the “Dragonflight” novel, but it sounds as though the project is essentially starting from scratch at this point.
Will Dragonriders become the next Harry Potter and/or Lord of the Rings franchise success story for WB? Well, probably not in terms of scale, though the series certainly has a strong fan following and nearly fifty years of literature for intrigued newcomers to dive into, so there’s very much promise there. Then again, WB doesn’t, per se, need Dragonriders to be massive cash cow, given some of the other franchise titles that the studio has in the pipeline (see: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, etc.).
At the same time, though, WB will also be retreading some well-trod territory over the next few years, with new installments in franchise such as Tarzan and King Arthur – film properties that, despite their age, are relatively questionable box office prospects nowadays. That is to say, having something a little fresher on the menu (along the lines of Dragonriders) doesn’t sound like a bad idea, either.
We’ll keep you posted on development for Dragonriders of Pern.