Let’s face it…the day of single, well-made films is pretty much over or even just a good trilogy. You’d think “Indiana Jones was done with three good movies but…
Now some movies I get. Regardless of your personal opinion, minus a couple slip-ups, I got the reason Peter Jackson made a trilogy of “Hobbit” films. He had to both make a story that could focus 15 lead characters as well as serve as a prequel that told the origin of many characters that would appear in the “The Lord of the Rings” films that followed chronologically. Plus, for fans of the book mythology, he wanted to capture more of Middle-Earth. But stuff like “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay”, whose book it’s adapted from is less than 400 pages long and is all from the perspective of one character, making a two-part conclusion with a bunch of new storylines added for a bunch of supporting characters is pushing it. I mean what happened to a good trilogy?
Point is, any time a studio can make a franchise out of something it is a must. Sometimes it works out creatively. I could care less about box office results. If I did I’d say positive things about “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Transformers” which are both on their fifth movie in pre-production and haven’t had anything close to good reception since their first installments.
One master of this process is Disney. In regards to Marvel and Star Wars, I thank them because both of those stories are from large mythologies that require multiple films to tell the story they are going for. “Star Wars” is about generations of the Skywalker family, told over decades. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about dozens of superheroes who affect the larger world around them as well as their personal stories. But as for a “Cars 2” AND a third one on the way…
Any smart viewer can tell the difference between a creative decision and a financial one in movies. When “Harry Potter” broke the adaptation of the final book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, into two parts that was to wrap up nearly 10 years of story and dozens of characters who had become loved and followed by fans since the books themselves came out in the 1990’s…yeah that creative integrity! You don’t have literally a generation of fans feeling like you didn’t wrap a story up that had been around for half their lives. When “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” was made 20 years after the last film and used it to try and pass the hat on to another character so more films could be made…that was financial (And it failed miserably with even the producers saying recently they wouldn’t replace Harrison Ford any time soon.) I mean…Indy literally rode off into the sunset in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”…was that not conclusive enough for you or something?
In putting all this together, it was recently announced that Disney has hired Philippa Boyens to adapt the 12 book fantasy series “The Merlin Saga” which tells the tales about Merlin the wizard in his youth before he meets and grooms King Arthur for the throne. The name may sound unfamiliar to you. Boyens has exclusively co-written all of director Peter Jackson’s films since 2001’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”. That includes all three of “The Lord of the Rings” films, “King Kong”, “Lovely Bones”, and all three of “The Hobbit” films. She went on to win the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”at the 76th Academy Awards in 2004. She also has produced several of Jackson’s films, including “District 9” which Jackson only produced himself.
Well you can imagine, Boyens probably wants to break out and do her own thing and Disney was looking for a writer at the exact same time. With that, Boyens was hired to adapt the books, although it’s uncertain if they want all 12 books adapted in the series.
Pardon my cynicism though. There is no guarantee one way or another how these films will turn out. Boyens has quite a good resume under her belt just working with Jackson and, given most of it was in the fantasy genre, she seems like the perfect person to take a crack at this long-term story.
No official release date for a film in the series has been announced obviously as Boyens will just get started on mapping out the tales. Who knows? Maybe she’ll pull it off. I mean did anyone think Peter Jackson, a horror director for the most part, would make “The Lord of the Rings” such a masterpiece trilogy? It’s a question like that that keep me from going full critic on franchise announcements. You never know when someone might get it right.