Deadline is reporting that Warner Brothers has optioned the film rights to the massive Dragonriders of Pern series of novels by Anne McCaffrey and her son, Scott McCaffrey.
First published in 1968, the Pern novels have long been a fan favorite for adaptation to filmed media, and there have been numerous attempts over the years, including one for the CW network by Ronald D. Moore, which fell apart because of changes to the core story suggested by the network.
Now, as franchises have become the Next Big Thing, and Warners is wrapping up the Hobbit series, could Pern become new fertile ground for movies?
The Pern novels tell tales of human colonists who settled the planet Pern, in the far-flung Rukbat system, where their near-idyllic lives were almost destroyed by a parasite called “Thread” — a biological organism that travels across space from a rogue red planet whose orbit intersects that of Pern’s every two hundred years or so, lasting for fifty years until the planets drift apart. The survivors use genetic engineering to breed larger versions of the indigenous “fire lizard” into fire-breathing dragons capable of charring Thread in the sky before it burrows into the ground and destroys anything organic. The tales range from epic to quiet and personal, telling the stories of the culture that developed in the aftermath of the first Threadfall — agrarian, almost medieval in its structure — and how the planet’s residents reclaimed their heritage as a colonists from Earth.
Drew Crevello, formerly a VP at Fox — where he worked on the X-Men franchise — joined WB a couple of months ago, and reportedly he was at the forefront of this deal with McCaffrey’s reps. If it works out, this could be a very big franchise for WB, with merchandise tie-ins (can you see LEGO Pern next to LEGO Hobbit? Of course you can!) and the possibility of new print runs of the original books (22 and counting).
It’s probably no coincidence that this comes on the heels of two films that feature a fully-realized CG dragon in the form of Smaug. Some — including here at SciFi4Me — were wondering how long it would take to develop Pern in the wake of the Hobbit films and Game of Thrones having such well-crafted dragons.