After the continuing success of Game Of Thrones, HBO is planning yet another high-profile fantasy series. American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman’s best-selling novel, is currently in development.

Production duties will fall to Playtone, the production company started by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. Films in Playtone’s resume include Hanks-heavy features like Cast Away and The Polar Express, not to mention high profile HBO projects such as Band of Brothers, The Pacific and John Adams.

The series is currently being planned out in no less than six seasons of 10-12 episodes each. The budget for each season will be in the $40 million range, with a heavy emphasis on CG. The earliest that American Gods would grace the airwaves would be 2013.

The central premise of American Gods is that gods and other mythological figures are real in the modern world, but their power and influence depends on the belief of humans. Obviously, that puts some gods in a tight spot due to modern sensibilities. Deities from the Greco-Roman, Nordic, Hindu, Egyptian, and Judeo-Christian pantheons all make an appearance. (Supernatural fans, hold your applause.)

Mythological figures like Odin (portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in 'Thor') are the central characters of 'American Gods'.

In addition, new gods have sprung up, thanks to America’s  restructured belief in things like the Internet, drugs, and celebrities. The central conflict of the book is a brewing war between the old gods and the new, played out in various locations across the United States and the world.

In keeping with the current trend, American Gods is not a “clean” fantasy story. Though the themes are lofty, the setting is current, and sex, drugs and rock & roll are present throughout. Given HBO’s generally uncompromising attitude towards storytelling and the adults-only nature of Game Of Thrones, fans of the novel should expect a faithfully explicit retelling.

Cinematographer Robert Richardson first brought the project to Playtone. Richardson is the veteran of impressive visual movies like Inglourious Basterds, Kill Bill and Shutter Island, so expect American Gods to look fantastic, regardless of casting or story.

American Gods will be the third Gaiman novel to be adapted for the screen, following feature films Stardust and Coraline. Fans of Gaiman would do well to check out the recent Doctor Who episode “The Doctor’s Wife“; the British author collaborated with the producers to write the script. Various other Gaiman projects are currently optioned for films or series, including Death: The High Cost of Living and The Graveyard Book.

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Source: The Hollywood Reporter