Peter Jackson Talks ‘Temeraire’ Adaptation

Published 5 years ago by , Updated July 31st, 2013 at 3:30 pm,

With 2009 being a very busy year for Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson (directing The Lovely Bones, developing The Hobbit, overseeing Tintin and District 9), it’s hard to believe the man has had any time to sleep, much less think about MORE projects. But apparently that’s exactly what’s he’s doing, with an adaptation of the fantasy book series Temeraire on his mind.

Ain’t It Cool News got a chance to interview Jackson while he’s doing the rounds promoting The Lovely Bones, and one of the things he talked about was his planned adaptation of Naomi Novik’s book series, Temeraire. We haven’t covered this before now, so if you only read Screen Rant for your news (and we’d be flattered if you did icon smile Peter Jackson Talks Temeraire Adaptation ) then this will be completely new to you.

Firstly, here’s a little overview of the Temeraire series: It’s described as a cross between a fantasy tale and one of alternate history – “a reimagining of the epic events of the Napoleonic Wars with an air force — an air force of dragons, manned by crews of aviators.” Reading up on it there’s different classes of dragons, from heavyweight (which are gargantuan, weighing up to 50 tons) to lightweight (which perform such functions as delivering important mail…).

Jackson actually acquired the rights to the series back in 2006 (five books are out currently, with nine being planned in total), and since then he’s been slowly developing ideas for it, although obviously he’s had other things on his plate. What might surprise you is that Jackson actually has the small screen in mind for Temeraire, as opposed to giving it the full big-screen cinematic treatment. I can guess that he originally planned to turn it into a full feature film, but things change and he now sees a miniseries as the best way to adapt it:

“I can’t see any degree of common sense in trying to mount them one at a time as feature films. To me the stories, having read the first ones, already work as this continuing, on-going saga, so I’m thinking “Is there a marketplace out there yet for a large budget mini-series?”

“I guess you’d think of things like HBO and you’d think of Band of Brothers and that sort of thing, but it’d be different than that. The market’s changing so much, TV networks are changing, so I’m thinking is there actually a market out there that’d give us the budget to do this properly and allow us to shoot this as a 6, 7 or 8 part series where we have freedom, we have great production values and are able to tackle it as the epic saga that it deserves.”

“I just can’t see doing one expensive movie and if that’s successful you get to do another one, but if the second one isn’t quite as good maybe there’ll never be a third one… I just don’t see that fitting with the property at all.”

Jackson keeps repeating to AICN that there have been official no plans put in place for the Temeraire adaptation, so at this point this is just what Jackson would like to see happen (he may change his mind back to cinema at some point). Having said that, he revealed that he’s had Weta Workshop do a lot of designs for the dragons and so forth, probably just give him an idea of what this series could look like if adapted. Jackson says that once the busy year of 2009 is over, he’ll have a chance to develop other things, which presumably includes Temeraire (or else he wouldn’t be talking about it at this point).

Temeraire artwork 570x356 Peter Jackson Talks Temeraire Adaptation

Temeraire artwork (Credit:

Not having read the books, I must say the overall idea for Temeraire sounds fantastic. I especially dig the different classes of dragons that perform different actions and functions (the “delivering mail” made me chuckle). It’s interesting Jackson wants to develop it as a miniseries as opposed to a film, as from the outside looking in it seems prime for the big-screen. However, someone who has read the books may know that it’s more suited for a 7 or 8 part miniseries, to better flesh out the story instead of cramming it into one film – or if successful, a franchise – over a number of years.

Do you like the sound of Temeraire? Anyone out there read the books? Do you think it would be better suited as a feature film or as a miniseries?

We’ll keep you posted on when and how (on TV or in theaters) we’ll see Temeraire.

Sources: AICN (thanks to Empire) and (for the artwork)

TAGS: Temeraire
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  1. I wish Peter Jackson had an unlimited budget so we could see him bring all his ideas to the big screen.

    • Yes and I wish he would never age … :)

  2. It is a good thing that we have creative folks working for us like Jackson and Del Toro to do what needs to be done to change the way these stories are being told. The passion of these people is what pushes the envelope.

  3. I’ve really enjoyed the Temeraire series. Ever since I found out that PJ had acquired the film rights, I have eagerly anticipated hearing more about the adaptation and the chance to see it on the big screen. That said, a mini-series (and a series of mini-series) would probably serve the material better. Too much would have to be pared out for a feature film run time. The heart of the books is the relationship between Temeraire and his captain. It is very much in the vein of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels.

    • I could not agree more with what spooks had to say! The Temeraire series has been absolutely fantastic and deserves to be portrayed by someone with the attention to detail and passion that Peter Jackson possesses. If he would be willing to make this into an epic mini-series I think it would be well received and captivate a large audience, leading more people to the books I have come to enjoy so much. I am truly excited to witness what Jackson does with the film rights, whichever way he takes it.

  4. @M-Cat

    The problem is, none of these projects are his ideas, everything Peter Jackson has done for the past 10 years has been adapting other peoples work or doing remakes.



    The Lovely Bones

    The Hobbit

    The Dambusters



    District 9

    And now this.

  5. I don’t think Peter jackson nedds to come up with something original, a creation of his own, to be considered a brilliant filmaker. For me, he is the best filmmaker alive.
    James Cameron created his “Avatar” universe, and for what I could see from the trailer, it didn’t seem very original.

  6. I love these books — they are so rich and realized. Naiomi Novik is great at world-building; here are just a few morsels:

    Britain doesn’t have any fire-breathers, so Longwings (more colloquially known as “acid-spitters”) are especially important in battle. Too bad for those with old-fashioned sensibilities that Longwings only accept female riders!

    The protagonist, William Laurence, confronts his own anti-air force prejudices when the Royal Navy captain is conscripted into its ranks.

    The Romans were the first to tame and breed dragons; their empire collapsed as dragon-taming spread beyond their borders.

    I really hope this goes somewhere, because Peter Jackson is one of my favourite filmmakers working today.

  7. They’re good books — I’d be fascinated to see what Jackson makes of them, like Pern crossed with the Maturin/Aubrey novels of Patrick O’Brien!

  8. Full feature films! Just like harry potter, only better.

  9. I don’t care waht you make it as, I’m curently reading the books and I can’t wait to see what it would look like either on tv or in the movies. I just hope, that if you put it on tv, Quebecc will also have it, or else that you’ll make the series on dvds.
    I’m actually starting to buy the books. Do you know when the other books are going to come out?

    • There is no official release date for the 7th book, Crucible of Gold, as of yet. However, there has been speculation that the book will be released in March of 2012. Lets hope this is true!

  10. i would like the series to be in parts so thers more of it because so far i have read a lot of books and out of all of them Temeraire is my favorite

  11. I dont care how he makes them!!! I just hope he makes them soon!!! Lol

  12. Temeraire series, amazing as it’s gunna be, still needs actors! :D So was thinkin a little bit about this and I’d say:

    - Richard Armitage OR Russell Crowe (WATCH Master and Commander to see what I mean) OR Eric Bana for Captain William Laurence
    - Charles Dance for Captain Portland OR Admiral Lenton (if he’s actually capable of ‘nice(-ish) guy’ role)
    - Conan Stevens (Game of Thrones) for Captain Matthew Berkley
    - Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) OR Georgia Taylor (Law and Order: UK) for Captain Catherine Harcourt
    - Natalie J. Robb (Emmerdale) as Senior Captain Jane Roland
    - Bradley Walsh as Captain Warren
    - David Leon (Vera) as Captain Little
    - Michael Smiley (Luther) as Captain Sutton
    - Colin Morgan (Merlin) as Captain Chenery

    What do you think?

  13. Yes! Please cast Richard Armitage as Will Lawrence. He would be fantastic in this role.

    Peter, please make this series soon! A mini-series would be great…

  14. I’d love to see this on Netflix or HBO!

  15. I can’t wait until this comes out I reckon for Laurence, get the actor that plays norington from pirates of the carribean, I don’t know why but for some reason I think he will perform the part magnificently, also is there any news as to the development of the mini series so far, I am so excitedto ssee how this turns out on the screen :D

  16. I think while I was reading the book, time seemed to fly by, and so a movie seemed like the way to go. But I do think an ‘His Majesty’s Dragon’ screen adaptation would really need to account for the passage of time, and plot and relationship development (Lawrence/Temeraire, Lawrence/Granby, Lawrence/Rankin, Lawrence/Randall) and I could see how packing that all in to one movie would feel really rushed.
    Lawrence really needs to be played by someone with a particular sort of British uprightness. Ten years ago I might have said Jack Davenport, but now my dream Lawrence is Tom Mison (Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hollow.)

    • I’m split on this. From a cinematic view I believe a feature film would be best especially when consider all the different locations. However I must agree as far as the story goes a mini series event done like band of brothers would be best