Think Harry Potter is the only series of young adult-centric fantasy books prime for a movie franchise? Think again. The series of books Percy & The Olympians is set to be turned into a movie (with the presumed title simply as Percy Jackson), with the adapted screenplay already written by Chris Columbus and Craig Titley based on the first book in the series called The Lightning Thief.
The film, which is to be directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the first two Harry Potter films), is based on the Greek mythology-based books that tells the story of Poseidon's half-human son, Percy, who sets out on a quest across modern America to prevent a war among the gods.
Speaking of which, most of those who will play the Greek gods have already been cast, they are: Pierce Brosnan as Chiron, Uma Thurman as Madusa, Sean Bean as Zeus, Kevin McKidd as Poseidon and Melina Kanakaredes as Athena. The gods Aries, Hades and Persephone have not yet been cast.
The three main teenage characters have already been cast: Logan Lerman (3:10 To Yuma), Alexandra Daddario (All My Children) and Brandon T. Jackson (Alpa Chino from Tropic Thunder).
Since it's based specifically on the first book in the series, here's a bit more of an in-depth plot that will most likely be used in the film (courtesy of Wikipedia):
The Lightning Thief is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, it is the story of twelve year old Percy Jackson, a boy with ADHD and Dyslexia. Percy has been going to many different schools, many of them boarding schools, due to the fact that he keeps getting kicked out. His entire life he has had no idea where his father is. But one day during a school field trip, Percy is approached by a mystical creature and defeats it with a sword named Riptide(disguised as a pen) given to him by a teacher. Later that day, Percy and his mom go on a trip to a beach when attacked by a storm. Percy's friend Grover from school suddenly appears saving Percy, but ultimately failing to save his mom. Grover exposes himself as a Satyr and that Percy has been taken to Camp Half Blood. Percy discovers that he is a demigod and during a Capture the Flag game that his father is Poseidon, the god of the sea. A while later, Chiron, his old teacher and the camp director tells him that his father and uncle Zeus are warring over Zeus's lost Master Bolt. Now, Percy must journey to find the Zeus' missing bolt to restore peace in Olympus with Annabeth Chase and Grover the Satyr.
What immediately struck me about this whole idea is how it mixes the Greek god mythology with modern day life. It has the high potential to look extremely cheesy on-screen, and so I remain pensive as to whether or not they can pull this off. However, Columbus has proven himself competent in bringing a fantasy story to life with the first two Harry Potter films which on paper also had the potential to not work on-screen. Luckily, Columbus and subsequent directors such as Alfonso Cuaron found a way to make it work very well.
The term used to describe how the story functions is that they "take some creative license." Wouldn't they have to for it to work?...
As far as the casting of the gods goes, it's kind of a mixed bag. Thurman and McKidd I think are suited to the roles, with the latter being pretty kick ass in any role he takes. But Brosnan, Bean and Kanakeredes are another story - all three are fine performers in their own right, but it seems in this case they have just been chosen for how they look more than the performance they have to give.
An interesting thing to note about the titular teenage boy - the character is written as having both Dyslexia and ADHD. It's great to see there being a character in such a fantasy series who has real life issues, as opposed to "the perfect young hero." I just hope they keep that part of the movie version... something tells me they won't.
As I hinted at in the opening paragraph, the plan is to make this into a full franchise of fantasy films (much like what Harry Potter is now) - each installment based on one of the five original books by Rick Riordan. These books in order are: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian.
We'll just see if the first film does well at the box office before they can move on to more films. I don't think the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series has had the success and mainstream name recognition as Harry Potter did (and obviously still does), but you never know, this could catch on and become very successful.
So is there any fans of the source material out there? Do you think this will make a successful movie franchise?
Percy Jackson is set to start shooting sometime this year, and is aimed for a February 2010 release.