Legendary director Sam Raimi hasn’t directed a film since Oz the Great and Powerful in 2013, but he’s returning in a big way with TV and film adaptations of Patrick Rothfuss’ popular fantasy book series, “The Kingkiller Chronicles.” Raimi is partnering with Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the epic stage phenomenon Hamilton, who is the project’s creative producer.
This is starting to look like a very big deal for a lot of obvious reasons.
Every Hollywood studio is searching for the next Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings property to exploit. The Kingkiller Chronicles, which has sold over 10 million copies to-date, contains the requisite scope and scale of those aforementioned fantasy powerhouses. Rothfuss’ books are sprawling, grand fantasy that’s packed with action and intrigue, but unlike so many other works in this genre: they’re not afraid to embrace magic.
Lionsgate won a bidding war with other major studios to obtain the book’s rights from Rothfuss back in 2015 — their pitch included both a TV series and a film (similar to Sony’s deal for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower books). Lionsgate may also be producing a video game adaptation too. Rothfuss, who aggressively angled for this multi-platform deal, turned down offers by multiple other studios, which he recounted in his blog.
This is not that unusual, however. Hollywood studios regularly cut deals with authors all of the time, but many optioned properties simply never reach fruition (or they’re rushed out the door, and the results look something like Sony’s ill-fated The Dark Tower film). Lionsgate partnered with Kingkiller super-fan Miranda late last year, and that changed everything. Miranda’s star has been ascending for several years, and the importance of his role in this venture cannot be understated — his Moana and Hamilton fans are legion!
Meanwhile, Raimi has focused on writing and producing in recent years. He’s responsible for writing and managing scripts on Starz’s Ash vs. Evil Dead; he’s overseeing the productions of genre films like Poltergeist and Don’t Breathe; and he’s keeping a hand in TV with executive producing gigs on Spartacus, Rake, and Ash vs. Evil Dead. However, most fans probably know Raimi best for his visionary Spider-Man trilogy in the early 2000s. His return to feature and TV directing also cannot be understated.
Combining the popularity and talents of Rothfuss, Miranda, and Raimi to create (potentially) the next great fantasy show/film/game is a big, big deal. Lionsgate is also a studio with the patience, commitment, and deep pockets — they championed Rothfuss’ vision and aligned Miranda and Raimi. The Kingkiller Chronicles is also a different beast from Potter, GoT, and LOTR — the storytelling, action, and politics are all its own. If each facet of this project crosses the finish line at a consistent level of quality, this might be Hollywood’s new baseline for fantasy epics in the platform-less, social media age.