It’s been a busy year for legendary English filmmaker Ridley Scott. The 80-year old Alien director helmed two big 2017 releases — prequel-sequel scarefest Alien: Covenant and All The Money In The World, which covers the John Paul Getty kidnapping saga. He also produced five more, including the widely acclaimed Blade Runner: 2049 and Agatha Christie adaptation Murder on the Orient Express.
Now it looks like Scott, one of Hollywood’s elder statesmen, has found his next project. According to Variety, Scott is in negotiations to direct Disney’s The Merlin Saga, a fantasy film adapted from T.A. Barron’s book series of the same name. It’s unclear whether Disney plans to adapt the books into multiple movies or combine them into one feature-length film; the entire series comprises 12 books, though the Lost Years of Merlin subset comprises just five.
While Hollywood has seen its fair share of King Arthur stories — mostly action-packed blockbusters, with a few odd musicals and kids’ movies mixed in — filmic tales about Arthur’s mystical mentor Merlin are few and far between, with just a 1998 NBC miniseries starring Sam Neill and a late-aughts BBC show qualifying as noteworthy. Barron’s Lost Years of Merlin saga, published between 1996 (The Lost Years of Merlin) and 2000 (Wings of Merlin), are primarily aimed at young adult audiences, beginning with Merlin’s youth and following his adolescence as he learns to harness his magical powers.
Scott’s last medieval production was 2005’s Kingdom of Heaven, which focuses on the Battle of Hattin during the 12th Century Crusades. Perhaps more famous (and certainly more acclaimed) is his 2000 epic Gladiator (which isn’t really set in the middle ages, but everything before the industrial revolution kind of blends together after a while), following Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, who finds himself a slave in the gladiatorial arena after being betrayed by his commander. Neither of these films, though — and none of Scott’s directorial credits — veer into the magigal or supernatural, so it’ll be interesting to see how the veteran handles such themes (if, of course, the deal goes through).
Tendo Nagenda and Foster Driver are heading up the project on Disney’s end; Philippa Boyen is writing the screenplay, and Scott’s company Scott Free is in talks to produce the film.
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