Warner plans Dragonriders of Pern franchise (Wired UK)


Dragonflight
Dragonflight

Anne
McCaffrey’s first Pern novel, Dragonflight, introduced readers to a
world of genetically engineered, telepathic dragons.

©
Corgi Books


Looks like a fiery dragon running rampant in the latest Hobbit trailer isn’t enough for Warner Bros, as the
studio has optioned author Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of
Pern
series for development.

First published in 1968, McCaffrey’s saga consists of 22 novels
charting the history of the world of Pern. Warner Bros has signed
up the entirety of the universe, giving it ample material to adapt
and a potential new tent pole fantasy franchise to replace
Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings with.

McCaffrey’s work stands out from the fantasy pack by virtue of
not actually being fantasy — her stories are actually high concept
science fiction. Despite offering up the expected visuals of
fire-breathing scaled beasts flying through the skies, Pern is no
swords and sorcery opus. Instead it’s set on the eponymous alien
world, long since colonised by humans, but where the current
inhabitants have lost much of the technology of the original
colonists. The dragons themselves are actually highly evolved
genetically engineered creatures, who
share a telepathic bond with their riders. The chief threat to the
world is Thread, a mycorrhizoid spore that devours organic matter
and falls to the planet whenever its orbit overlaps with the “Red
Star” — essentially, imagine if Mars spewed interplanetary toxic
waste at Earth every so often.

The mix of sci-fi and fantasy and the scope of the world –
between McCaffrey and her son Todd, thousands of years of history
have been created — make it easy to see why Dragonriders of
Pern
is a good fit for cinema superstardom. The first
published novel, Dragonflight,
also makes a good starting point for Warner Bros to try to grab
some of the Hunger Games audience. The book follows Lessa,
daughter of a deposed noble family, as she bonds with the golden
queen dragon Ramoth and confronts the political forces of her
country.

Warner Bros’ option on the world isn’t the first time
Pern has flown towards screens. A planned animated series
morphed into 1995’s Starla and the Jewel Riders (known as Princess
Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders
in the US), and in 2006 was optioned for movies by Canadian outfit Copperheart Entertainment.
Divisions of Warner Bros itself even dabbled with the prospect of a
live action TV series in 2002, headed up by Ronald D
Moore
, before network interference killed the project. Moore
would go on to helm the excellent Battlestar Galactica
remake though, so not all bad.

There’s no word yet on the format Warner Bros plans to use for
Dragonriders or anything close to a release window, but a
big budget, respectful treatment of the material would be sure to
please fans and draw in movie-goers seeking a new source of
spectacle.

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30 July 2014 | 2:31 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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