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 :) ) 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 (Credit: Sandara.net)

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 Sandara.net (for the artwork)