Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Myst TV series suddenly appears on the horizon

Wow. I didn't see this coming, although in retrospect there were a couple of clues we might have picked up on.

Historically-minded fans will recall an abortive attempt at a Myst miniseries on the Sci-Fi Channel, back in 2002. The project wiped out due to creative differences between the producers and Cyan. (Fannish shorthand for the event is "The studio wanted to show Atrus and Catherine having sex on the beach." I don't know how accurate that is, but the Sci-Fi Channel did not have a great reputation for its mini-series and TV-movie events, even before the advent of the Sharknado/Mansquito era.)

And then there was the Myst movie drama.

So now there's this new thing. What do we know about it? Not a release date, sadly; it's too early in the process for that.

Legendary Pictures has a long slate of fan-favorite movies, including Pacific Rim, The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception. But this deal is apparently with "Legendary Television & Digital Media", a division of which I know less. It seems to mostly be a wrapper around recently-acquired Asylum Entertainment, which is known for... a bunch of things I don't know. (The Kennedys, etc.)

The Variety article also says:

The Millers see the Legendary deal as a way to not only create a compelling TV drama but to develop a true transmedia franchise that includes a companion video game and other platforms, particularly tablets, to expand plot points.

Could be good, could be bad, depending on how much attention it gets from Cyan. Hopefully the deal comes with enough money for Cyan to develop first-class new Myst content while still keeping Obduction on track.

Oh, and when I said "clues"? Robyn Miller had referred a few weeks ago to a possible TV show:

A friend and I wrote a very cool treatment for a #myst TV show. Alas, it's not to be. (tweet Sept 24)

We don't know whether any of that relates to the current announcement. It might have been a version that didn't get carried through, or it might have been completely unrelated. Or somebody just changed their mind.

Miller also recently tweeted about a couple of treasures coming up from storage:

Just found ALL the original hand drawn Riven maps! Thank you storage unit. I'll post them soon. (tweet Oct 5)

Wow! Just unrolled them and they're in perfect condition. Haven't seen these maps in at least a decade! (tweet Oct 5; photo)

Could be research materials being dug up! Or he just likes rooting around in old storage units full of treasure. Like the rest of us.

Comments imported from Gameshelf

Andrew Plotkin (Oct 7, 2014 at 3:22 PM):

Online chatter reminds me (thanks K-Y) that Legendary Digital Media is doing a TV-movie-or-miniseries-or-something adaptation of the game Dead Rising. So that's their resume so far.

Desktop Metaphor (Oct 8, 2014 at 5:15 AM):

Somebody asked Robyn on twitter if this new series was completely separate from the aborted series concept he had been talking about. His response was, "Yes and no." Hopefully this means that at least some of Robyn's ideas are going to be a part of the series.

Of the ideas he's posted, well, they're all visually exciting, but the one that makes me the most curious is his concept art titled "Garternay." Does his idea for the series really take us that far back that we're getting into pre-D'ni times? That would certainly free the show of some of the questionable later series lore. Plus I would love to see the origins of the D'ni as a radical little humility cult. Or, now that we've gone to D'ni is it time to see what's become of Garternay post-Atrus, post-URU? Both ideas seem exciting to me, neither seems that marketable. We'll probably get a show about the adventures of a library and an orange rocket.

Andrew Plotkin (Oct 8, 2014 at 11:04 AM):

I elect not to speculate on the show's content at this stage. :) We'll keep an eye out for further announcements.

Andrew Plotkin (Oct 14, 2014 at 12:30 PM):

Interview with more info: http://venturebeat.com/2014/10/13/cyan-worlds-rand-miller-explains-why-it-is-taking-decades-take-myst-to-television-interview/

Quoting bits for posterity:

"(It’s putting some cash down but not necessarily committing to the actual show just yet, right?) That’s right. But in our working with Legendary, they’re putting a writer on this. They’re going to get a director and a showrunner. They’ll put a package together. The next step is to flesh out what the show is going to be and then sell it to a cable network or Netflix or Amazon. Then, the real development will begin. It’s still early, but we’ve been working on this deal for the last nine months."

Re the movie project: "Given the fact that we didn’t understand Hollywood, we kind of let some fans take off with this, and they did such a great job that … we put them at arm’s length and said, “OK, we’ll let you guys run this. You’re doing a great job.” But it just never went anywhere, for reasons I don’t know. It could have been the way it was approached. It wasn’t with a studio so much as a production company."

Re the Sci-Fi TV project: "There was some earlier stuff, years and years earlier. I think it was the Sci-Fi Channel. It wasn’t that far along. Then, there was a change at the head of things, which seems to always happen to us. Somebody who was gung-ho for it went away and the other guy wasn’t as gung-ho for it, and it just drifted away, which is fine with us. If we don’t have somebody who’s gung-ho for the thing, we’d just as soon not do it. "

"The options came back from that previous agreement in 2010. … I brought a friend of mine in, Larry Shapiro, who’s out there in Los Angeles, and he started looking around. He brought it to the guys at Legendary and we put the deal together."

Re transmedia: "Having the tablet, especially given the power tablets are producing right now, we’ll be able to do some amazing things — immersive, game-like experiences. The show helps you play the game, and the game helps you understand the show better. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Hopefully, it feels cohesive and not just like a slammed-on second screen. I think there’s an immersive thing here, and that’s what we’re excited to work on."

"That’s probably the better answer as far as “why Legendary?” The minute we started the conversations with them, it was clear that they got it. They respected the franchise. One of the guys on board there, Cory Lanier, is definitely a fan. The writers they’re looking at, one of them published a top-10 list, and Myst was number two. We trust that they’re going to take good care of this. They’ve proven that with the other properties they’ve dealt with over the years."

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