‘Game of Thrones’ & ‘Hanna’ Writers Scripting ‘Merlin’ Project for Warner Bros.

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Stephen Dillane as Merlin Game of Thrones & Hanna Writers Scripting Merlin Project for Warner Bros.

In the wake of the thumping success of Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter film franchise, there are no lack of attempts by other studios to launch their own blockbuster movie series aimed (mostly) at the young-adult crowd. With the young wizard’s story ended – along with the closing out of the Twilight series – only the Hunger Games movies seem to have truly caught the public’s imagination.

As Warners moves forward with their DC Cinematic Universe in the form of the recently announced Batman Vs. Superman project, they are also going ahead with another potential franchise which could skew toward a younger audience.

According to Variety, the studio has tapped Dave Hill ( Game of Thrones) and David Farr (Hanna ) to script a new take on perhaps the original wizard, Merlin. This project is not to be confused with the now-cancelled BBC series and is apparently considered “a top priority” by the studio.

Now, this project might be the adaption of YA author T. A. Barron’s five-book series The Lost Years of Merlin, which Warner Bros. has had an option on as far back as 2011. Those books serve as something of an origin story for the character.

Here is one synopsis for that potential project:

The film will trace Merlin’s journey from being a boy washed on the shores of Wales with no memory and no home, to him becoming a young man learning to use his powers and ultimately defender of the natural world and eventual mentor to King Arthur.

Please note that there is no official confirmation that The Lost Years of Merlin is the project Hill and Farr are working on, and the connection drawn here is only meant to highlight that the studio has renewed their option on Barron’s books at least as recently as December 2012. It’s entirely possible that Hill and Farr’s Merlin will be significantly different if not altogether original.

merlin preview syfy Game of Thrones & Hanna Writers Scripting Merlin Project for Warner Bros.

Hill’s inclusion on this project adds a unique angle on the medieval setting, given his experience first as an assistant to Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and then as one of the staff writers. Farr’s Hanna was dark and complicated, successfully blending an intense action movie with a more cerebral psychological thriller (not to mention some fairy tale elements of its own).

The combined sensibilities of these two writers could yield a take on the age-old wizard we haven’t seen yet. While the general speculation is that Warners wants to aim at a younger audience, Hill and Farr are known for material far darker and more mature than many of the previous versions of the King Arthur/Merlin story.

The character dates back to the 12th century, first appearing in cleric and “historian” Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), which is the first real distillation of the narrative we know as the “Arthurian Legend.” There has yet to be a definitive live-action movie version of this tale – John Boorman’s 1981 Excalibur is a highly sexualized take on the story, Sean Connery starred as King Arthur in the Merlin-free First Knight and Clive Owen played the king in director Antoine Fuqua’s dark and violent King Arthur in 2004.

Clive Owens in King Arthur Game of Thrones & Hanna Writers Scripting Merlin Project for Warner Bros.

That film featured an interesting version of Merlin, depicting him as a pseudo-Druid mystic (played by Stephen “Stannis Baratheon” Dillane).

As for television, Sam Neill starred as the titular wizard in a famously campy 1998 miniseries, Eva Green starred in the Starz series Camelot, BBC’s Merlin series focused on the earlier years of these characters, and TNT’s The Mists of Avalon was an attempt to provide a more “authentic” re-telling, with a strong focus on the female characters. I’ll take Monty Python and the Holy Grail over any of these, though.

There really are endless variations on where screenwriters can take this saga, given that the underlying themes (“older mentor guides a young warrior as he fulfills his destiny”) are timeless.

_____

Stay tuned for more news on this new Merlin project, including a final answer as to whether or not it’s an official adaptation of The Lost Years of Merlin.

Source: Variety

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  1. Marsellus Wallace: “I ain’t through with you by a damn sight. I’ma get medieval on your a$$.” I’ve been a fan of the character ever since I read ‘King Arthur & his Knights of the Round Table’.

  2. I wish someone would option and use Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles (A Dream of Eagles outside the US) as the basis for one of these. The first four books are epic. Unfortunately they kind of go down when they reach the era of adult Arthur. Book 3, about Merlin and Uther, is my favorite book of all time.

  3. Merlin’s been done to death. Someone needs to adapt ‘the Alchemist’.

    • +1. Though I feel like the symbolism would be tricky to translate to the screen. I heard Laurence Fishburne was attached to a project of some sort…

  4. I’d rather they make an original Merlin movie that isn’t based on a book.

    Maybe that’s just my bias though because other than the Harry Potter books, I’ve hated other YA books because they tend to be overly simplistic and saccharine and incredibly insulting too (saying this as someone who was reading Johnny Got His Gun and other mature books as a 9 year old while everyone else in my class were reading things aimed at our age group).

    Having seen bits and pieces of Twilight, The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson, all are terrible, cheesy and treat the target audience like morons like the writers didn’t have much faith in that age group’s ability to understand things (or the other reason being terrible writers somehow getting away with it and earning money from being crap).

  5. I would be interesting to see a multi-film saga based on Arthurian characters. It seems like most everything non-TV so far has been a one-shot. I can’t say I’m really into a young Merlin story, though. I prefer older Merlin, when Arthur and the others come into the picture.

  6. So many other and, imho, BETTER fantasy projects they could turn into a successful franchise (like Elric of Melnibone and Chronicles of Amber just to name 2) but no, we get something that has been re-tread to death.

    Wanna make some money? Do something O R I G I N A L.

    • But adapting those books isn’t original either.

      You know what I’ve always wanted to see (beyond a proper adaption of the Narnia books, from The Magician’s Nephew until The Last Battle)?

      A movie that shows a depiction of Hell as some sort of adventure fantasy. The only thing that came close to how I envisioned Hell was the fantastic Dante’s Inferno videogame from 2010. I suggest looking up a clip of the Phlegyias ride in particular where you ride atop that demon across a bridge towards the gates of Dis.

      The zoom out to show the epic scale going on in that world was just beyond phenomenal.

      • Dude are you serious, I’ve had that same fantasy since I was a kid. . .strange

      • Please enlighten us as to why the two book series I mentioned aren’t original? Because, afaik, both ARE original and not derivative of something like LotR (See Sword of Shannara for that :P )

        Now if you are referring to the mere fact that a movie adaption makes it unoriginal because it was a book first…..well that level of unoriginality I can live with. ;)

        And there was a project as I remember that was going to focus on the very thing you wanted but for the life of me the title escapes me atm.

    • The Warcraft movie has promise, but video game adaptation have been junk in the past. Hopefully that changes. Adapting Joe Abercrombie’s books to film would make sense. “Best Served Cold” would be a perfect book to adapt to fim.

  7. The only other version of Arthur/Merlin that should ever be done at this point is an adaptation of The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell, especially the first book, The Winter King. The single most badass version of the tale that exists, and a bit more realistic in approach too, the magic is more implied than explicitly shown.

    Of course this would have to be a hard R, Braveheart style film, none of this sanitized YA s***. So… will never happen then.

    • Totally agree. Those books are absolutely brilliant – everything the Clive Owen King Arthur could have been with its ‘based on the real story’ angle but wasn’t! Three film or even a Richard Sharp style mini-series of TV films would do the books justice. THEN we’d have a definitive version!!

      • Yeah, I still remember my disappointment with 2004′s King Arthur, especially as Owen would have been a great choice to play Cornwell’s version of that role. Now the age of R-rated Gladiator style epics has passed, so I agree a mini-series is the only way to do it. Maybe HBO can look into it once they’re done with Thrones…

  8. I would like to see this done in the Harry Potter universe, they should contact JK Rowlings and ask her to help in this. We have seen the story the muggles have known but now see the true story of Merlin.

  9. I wish they adapted “The Student Prince”, instead.

  10. Clarification: Eva Green was in Camelot, but she played Morgan le Fay NOT Merlin. Joseph Fiennes played Merlin. It doesn’t make the show any better but I think the facts should be strait.

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