A new TV adaptation of the popular Alex Rider book series is in development with the UK's ITV network. The TV film and video production company Eleventh Hour Films has optioned the Anthony Horowitz books and will make the series, with the writer Guy Burt (The Borgias, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands) being linked to scribe the project.
The Alex Rider books are a series of ongoing spy novels written by British author Horowitz. He created the franchise in 2000, which has since achieved sales of over 16 million for the English-language editions alone. The stories focus on a 14-16 year old boy who is recruited into the British Secret Service (MI6), and are aimed primarily at the male Young Adult market. It's teenage wish-fulfillment that has become incredibly popular, and the stories capture the James Bond feel of outlandish villains and fiendish global threats. Rider has faced everything from deadly viruses, evil clones, and nuclear holocausts, but with less of the explicit themes that Bond or Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin (Kingsman: The Secret Service) would have to face.
Variety reports that the new series is being developed with ITV and is fully expected to attract international partners for worldwide distribution. It will follow the same premise as the books and detail the adventures of the teenage super-spy as he embarks on missions to save the world. However, the aim will be to target it for a slightly wider audience than the books, and present the episodes as "event dramas for family audiences." Horowitz will remain closely linked to the series during production and states that screenwriter Burt “is cleverly expanding the characters whilst staying true to the spirit of the original novels to ensure that the series will appeal to both loyal fans and a new generation of viewers.” It's smart timing, as this announcement coincides with the release of the next Rider book called Never Say Die.
It won't be the first time that Alex Rider has been brought to the screen. "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker" was released in 2006 and starred Alex Pettyfer (Beastly, I am Number Four) in the title role. It had an incredible cast, including the likes of Mickey Rourke, Bill Nighy, Alicia Silverstone, Stephen Fry, and Ewan McGregor. Horowitz was so confident in the film at the time, that he was writing the screenplay to the sequel before it was released and expected the movie to spawn a lucrative cinema franchise. It wasn't to be, though, as it was a critical and commercial disappointment, and now is quoted as being one of the worst Young Adult movie adaptations.
However, if the treatment is pitched just right, the series could definitely be suited to becoming an action-packed family TV show. There's plenty of source material to base ideas on and the writing talent is there. It remains to be seen how and when Alex Rider will be distributed, and just who will play the title character. Screen Rant will keep you updated on further developments.