After a failed push to become the next Lord of The Rings-sized blockbuster movie sensation, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials is set to become a BBC miniseries that looks to do the expansive fantasy story some justice. The 2007 film from director Chris Weitz looked to have the right stuff when it came to delivering a fantasy epic on the scale of Peter Jackson’s Academy Award-winning adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. Yet, despite a cast that included Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, Daniel Craig, and the voice talents of Ian McKellen and Kathy Bates, the film failed to ignite a proper franchise.
Now, more than a decade later, the BBC, in conjunction with HBO, is returning to Pullman’s sometimes dark world(s) where people walk around with animal versions of their souls and two young children embark on a massive journey that includes more than a few talking animals and a witch or two. The project has been in development since 2015, with Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables), Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders, Halo) stepping into help direct episodes, while Jack Thorne, writer of The Fades and Hulu’s National Treasure series, will write.
All that is reason enough to be intrigued at the prospect of His Dark Materials finally getting a worthwhile adaptation, but the series’ cast should be enough to convince any lingering skeptics. For starters, the series stars Dafne Keen (Logan) as Lyra Belacqua, with Ruth Wilson and James McAvoy joining as Marisa Coulter and Lord Asriel, respectively. Perhaps most surprising is that the series will also feature Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scorseby. Everyone is present and accounted for in the first teaser trailer, which you can check out below:
It’s clear that the BBC plans to market the series on the names of the people involved, primarily Pullman, but also Wilson, McAvoy, Keen, and Miranda. That puts the trailer in the unique position of getting those familiar with the books and those who’ve perhaps never heard of them on board without showing as much as a single daemon. That’s not too surprising, as this is just the first look at the new series and it’s likely that the BBC (and HBO) would like to save something for when it’s a bit closer to the actual premiere date.
So far, that premiere date remains elusive, as both the BBC and HBO have now featured short teases of His Dark Materials without actually saying when audiences can watch it. Given how good this first look came across, it’ll be sooner rather than later with any luck.
His Dark Materials is expected on BBC and HBO sometime this year.