Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Wheel of Television: Bringing the WHEEL OF TIME to the Screen

In Hollywood success breeds imitation. A decade ago Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy made almost $3 billion at the box office. Over the last four years, a series of Discworld TV mini-series have been very successful in the UK, and last month HBO's Game of Thrones launched to rave reviews and strong ratings, being renewed for a second season almost immediately. It's likely that we will see a whole new eruption of fantasy projects in the next few years as Hollywood tries to cash in on the next big thing.


Almost certainly first on the list for some kind of adaptation is Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series of novels. The Wheel of Time is currently the dominant force in the epic fantasy subgenre. The thirteen novels (fifteen, including the guidebook and prequel) have sold approximately 50 million copies to date in more than two dozen countries, and the series will be attracting a substantial amount of publicity next year when the fourteenth and final novel, A Memory of Light, finally hits the shelves. Given the series' immense sales clout and popularity, some kind of adaptation has been on the cards for a while. About ten years ago, Robert Jordan sold an option to NBC, who were considering making a mini-series of The Eye of the World. Nothing came of this project after those pushing it at NBC departed. A Japanese animation studio contacted Robert Jordan with a proposal to adapt the first three books as a series of movies, but they only wanted to do the first three and change the ending of the third book to the ending of the entire series. Jordan turned down this proposal.

In the mid-2000s, Red Eagle Entertainment bought the rights from Robert Jordan to develop film, computer game and comic adaptations of The Wheel of Time. In August 2008 they entered into a partnership with Universal Pictures to develop a two-hour movie based on The Eye of the World. Three years on, there appears to have been no movement on this project, and it's unclear how much longer Universal's option has left before it expires. Whilst the success of Game of Thrones may inspire Universal to take another look at the project, I think it's more likely that we will see the project re-envisaged for television.

In a series of articles I'm going to be looking at the practicalities of bringing The Wheel of Time to the screen, considering its vast scope, huge cast and immense visual effects requirements. To start with, let's ask the most basic question of all.


Should This Even Be Attempted?

There is a strong opinion amongst a subset of Wheel of Time fans that no adaptation should even be attempted. This is a series of fourteen very large books, totalling 11,000 pages in paperback when all is said and done, featuring a cast of almost 2,000 named characters sprawling across dozens of major and minor storylines. The books are what they are. Why should they be brought to the screen?

The easy answer to this is that it's going to happen. At some point, whether it's next week or twenty years from now, there's going to be an adaptation of The Wheel of Time on screen. The books have sold too many copies and there is too much potential money in a successful adaptation for it to simply be left alone. As a result, it's better (I think) to be taking this as read and considering how it may be best achieved rather than simply hoping it won't happen.

In addition, working out how on earth you'd tackle this project makes for an interesting thought-experiment.


TV or Movie?

This is the next question and one that has driven a great deal of discussion over the years. The question results in a paradox which can be summed up concisely:
The Wheel of Time is too expensive to be a TV series. It needs to be a film.
The Wheel of Time is too long to be a film. It needs to be a TV series.
Basically, the books have too many huge battles, too much magic use, too many sets, too much location work and too many non-human creatures to be viable as a TV series. Only a series of movies capable of assigning hundreds of millions of dollars to two hour-blocks at a time can give the Wheel the visual look it needs.

At the same time, the books are too long with too many characters, too many storylines and too many subplots to be easily adapted as a series of films. To fit a 700-page novel (let alone the 1,000-page ones in the middle of the series) into two hours is impossible, which will result in epic cuts, with major characters and storylines having to be weeded out (great for Crossroads of Twilight, less so for The Eye of the World). Having fourteen films in the first place is also hopelessly unrealistic and impractical, splitting books across multiple films (an option apparently considered by Red Eagle) far moreso.


For me, the equation is a simple one to solve. The practical concerns about effects and budget are serious ones and should not be underestimated. However, the books don't exactly have a major battle sequence every five pages (and not one of the battles in the books so far rivals the battles that Game of Thrones will be depicting soon enough), whilst shows from Legend of the Seeker and Merlin through Heroes, BSG, Babylon 5 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have handled extensive special effects requirements on extremely modest budgets before. In short, the practical concerns can be handled or worked-around on TV. There is no way to address or work-around the cutting of major storylines and characters in a film adaptation.

Of course, some fans and critics would be happy to see a chainsaw taken to immense length and the vast cast of characters of the books, and certainly even a TV adaptation will have to be ruthless with some aspects of the story. But to work as a film or series of films, The Wheel of Time would have to lose major elements: the Seanchan and probably the Shaido would have to go for a start, along with many of the interim obstacles Rand faces on his quest to unite the world for the Last Battle. Most dangerously, the cutting would reduce Rand's story to its bare bones: a humble guy from a bucolic countryside who, with the help of his plucky friends and a wise mentor figure (albeit an attractive woman rather than an old guy) evades black-cloaked creatures and eventually goes to a volcano to confront the bad guy. Yeah, people might think they've seen that story before.

My conclusion is that if an adaptation must proceed, it must attempt to be faithful to at least the spirit (if not the letter) of the storyline set out in the books. Taking this hugely popular story and immediately ditching 90% of it makes no sense, so the movie option has to be dismissed (as Robert Jordan himself said many years ago). So now we can consider a TV show and all the immense impracticalities and challenges of that daunting prospect.

Next time I'll ponder how you shrink 11,000 pages of dense plotting into a workable outline for a TV series without destroying the story or scaring off viewers. This will include questions about the length and structure of the overall series, the length of individual seasons (can we tell the story of The Eye of the World in five or six hours, or does it need ten?) and what impact that will have on what needs to be cut and what can be kept intact.

41 comments:

pratprak said...

Aside from budgetary constraints, which you say can be resolved, do you see any other reason for not including the Seanchan storyline? I feel its too crucial, particularly going into the final books, and moreover, what with the Seanchan battle and everything, its likely to be one of the most attractive parts of the TV series, if it were made.

Loved your analysis! Do tweet when you post the next one in this series :)

Anonymous said...

I think the second half of s1 of Game of Thrones, were it starts to get really epic, will prove whether or not its possible to make an epic fantasy series on TV. So far the series has been great beyond belief, but we haven’t really had any large scale stuff yet, and WOT certainly is large scale. I’m not convinced it can be done, Rome’s 2 minute battle of Philippi didn’t exactly make a compelling argument for it.

Ignoring money issues, I think each WOT book (except for COT) needs to be at least 8-10 episodes long. Sure, there’s a lot of slow stretches(much like ASOIAF), but book 1-7 and 11-13 are also filled with such a huge amount of plot movement and action, that I think one could easily make 10 episode adaption’s that would feel fast paced.

Lambada said...

Hmm, interesting thoughts - I agree that a TV series makes more sense - especially given the pacing of the series.

I think perhaps, one way to resolve the length issue though would be to take account of how the books are perceived.

Books 1-3 are often perceived as a trilogy, of sorts. Climaxing with Rand being confirmed as the Dragon Reborn. This could be series 1.
Elements that could be cut: Seanchan. The Eye of The world. (A lot of fans see this as a side-quest anyway, in essence a resolution imposed by the need to get a first book resolution to a series).

Cutting the Seanchan could prove problematical due to the importance they play later on. However a possibility would be to make it so that their arrival in Amadicia / Ebou Dar is their first entrance into the series.

Books 4-6 are seen as the next 'arc'. Climax being the kidnapping. Up for cutting: Shaido, Tanchico. The various journies to Salidar (Siuan et al and Nynaeve et al) could be condensed. This would be series 2.

Books 7-9 would be a good arc. Climax being The Cleansing. Up for cutting: Most of book 8, but keeping Egwene taking control. Series 3.


Books 10-11 are harder - neither has a defining climax. Candidates for a climax could be Mats marriage, or Elaynes kidnapping. Sereis 4.

Books 12-14 are much faster paced, I suspect that there is enough material for perhaps 2 or 3 series in these books. Series 5 and 6 (perhaps 7).

The Seanchan attack on the Tower here is vital - hence why the invasion of Ebou Dar has to be kept.


--------


One thing that would need to happen would be reorganising to keep the storylines roughly in parallel. This was the problem with later books - and it wouldn't adapt well to a tv series.

The problem would come with series 4 (Books 10-11). There isn't a focus on Rand in those books in any major way, so one possibility would be to move Rands Gathering Storm Arc into the 10 to 11 region. Each series before then has culminated with Rand performing a great act. and nothing in 10 or 11 would risk seeing the series cancelled right before its climax.

Wise Bass said...

I still think that Eye of the World, at the very least, should be made into a movie. It's practically begging to be made into a movie, what with the way the plot is laid out. It's also the most self-contained of the Wheel of Time books, so you could make the movie, then drop the rest of the series if the movie isn't profitable.

Having fourteen films in the first place is also hopelessly unrealistic and impractical,

Several of the books would almost certainly be combined/cut. There are also a lot of subplots which really just don't go anywhere, along with lots of description.

Even so, you'd end up with a long series of movies . . . which is exactly what Hollywood loves. They love a long, successful franchise of movies that they can milk (look at the Harry Potter series of movies).

However, the books don't exactly have a major battle sequence every five pages (and not one of the battles in the books so far rivals the battles that Game of Thrones will be depicting soon enough),

I strongly disagree. A Song of Ice and Fire has only five major battles* that we see from the perspectives of the view-point characters, with the rest occurring either off-screen or in flashback. Those are spread out through-out the series.

* I'm counting

1. Tyrion's battle in AGoT
2. Battle of the Blackwater
3. Battle on the Fist of First Men
4. The Jon-led defense of the Wall vs a Wildling siege.
5. Stannis's assault on the wildlings.

Wheel of Time, on the other hand, has tons of battles with massive numbers of opponents (like tens of thousands of Trollocs or more), along with frequent and heavy use of special-effects-laden magic. For a television show, they'd either have to cut back on that extensively, or show it on lower budget effects (which can look very cheesy).

The Wheel of Time would have to lose major elements: the Seanchan and probably the Shaido would have to go for a start, along with many of the interim obstacles Rand faces on his quest to unite the world for the Last Battle.

I could live without the Shaido, who are mostly off-screen except in a handful of books. Even the Seanchan could be mostly shown off-screen in the movies.

Sorry for the long post.

Phillip H. Tang said...

There is a guide book to Wheel of Time? I am so picking it up!!

Drew said...

I honestly think an anime series of the Wheel of Time would be the best way to preserve it in its entirety. I don't know what kind of expenses are involved, but I imagine it'd be far less than a live action tv series. The only problem would be that WoT fans may not embrace that medium. Who knows, but I feel like anime fans are fantasy fans I think, while not all fantasy fans are anime fans.
As long as their is a lot of oversight to make sure it's not just some fan-service fest, but played more seriously, it could be great! Hey, WoT even has some pretty fan-servicey moments built into it.

And if not "anime" in style, any animation works. There's just the stigma of animated = cartoons = for children.

So yeah, that's what I'd prefer and what would work best if fidelity to the story is the main priority.

Adam Whitehead said...

"Wheel of Time, on the other hand, has tons of battles with massive numbers of opponents (like tens of thousands of Trollocs or more), along with frequent and heavy use of special-effects-laden magic."

I know there's a perception of this, but I don't think it's really true. Dumai's Wells will be a massive set-piece, but the much larger (in terms of manpower) Battle of Cairhien in the book before mostly happens in the distance whilst Rand and Egwene observe from a wooden platform (most of Mat's battles there happen offpage/offscreen, though for TV we'd definitely need to have Mat and Couladin's fight). There's the running battles with the Seanchan in Book 8, but a lot of that is related through characters talking inbetween the engagements, not the actual combat itself, and most of the battles aren't shown in the book either.

Book 11 has a couple of medium sized-battles at Malden and the Malvide Narrows. Malden isn't actually that bad, since it happens at night and the focus is on Perrin's rescue mission, not the bigger battle which is a backdrop. The Malvide Narrows, where Mat deploys his basic proto-firearms, will need to be a bigger battle though. Rand and the channellers blowing away hordes of Trollocs with the Power will be an expensive set-piece, no doubt about that, but the Trollocs are mostly wiped out at a great distance and the whole thing can be CGIed (rather than a mix of CGI and live-action in some of these other scenes, which is more complicated). Maradon in ToM is also a big deal, but arguably it can be toned down a lot for TV.

What WoT does have much more of is the number of party-level, D&D-style skirmishes between Team Rand and bunches of Shadowspawn and so forth, but these should be more doable on a budget. As long as these things can be spread out every few episodes, it shouldn't be a problem (like when DS9 or B5 had an absolutely massive space battle and then four 'bottle shows' in a row which had next to no sfx at all to make up for it).

Adam Whitehead said...

I know lots of people love the animation idea, but it's really not viable. Red Eagle paid a substantial figure for the rights, and Universal paid them an even more substantial figure to develop the propety, way more than the return from any anime or CGI movie that could be generated. If the rights collapse back to the Jordan Estate (as they will eventually if nothing more happens), maybe it could be done in a way that is affordable, but that's many years off.

It's also worth reiterating that a Japanese animation company was interested in the property a decade ago, but Jordan turned them down and as far as we know, there's been no interest at all from that quarter since.

seanmay said...

Nice post. You're right that this would seem to be the next major fantasy series to be adapted for screen, whether large or small. I've been reading the Wheel of Time for many years, but my enthusiasm for it dropped off after Crossroads of Twilight. The idea of getting rid of the whole Shaido subplot makes perfect sense - then we wouldn't have to endure Perrin's interminable traipsing around after them.

Niall Alexander said...

Do you know which Japanese animation studio it was, that had hoped to adapt the first three books of the series? Or is that just anecdotal? I'd be interested to hear... used to be a bit of an anime buff, I did.

Fascinating post in any case, Adam. Looking forward to whatever you have up your sleeve for next time. Oh, and I'm glad your computer woes seem to be behind you. Whatever would we all do without our Wert? :I

Tom Bremer said...

Is the Wheel of Time worth reading? I'm thinking of trying it once all the books are finished. I've heard both pros and cons...

Anonymous said...

I would be perfectly happy if they created new characters, and follow their journey to the Last Battle. You could brush their story-lines up against major events in the book.

Creating a TV series from that angle would be much more appealing to me than butchering my favorite fantasy series.

Of course this probably isn't an option, but it should be.

Adam Whitehead said...

@ Niall: No, the computer is more stable now than it was, but this just means it's crashing 3-4 times a day rather than 9-10. It's letting me get some stuff done, but only by constantly using Blogger's draft-saving technique or drafting files in Word and saving them every few minutes before sending them over :-(

As for the anime option, I believe RJ only ever mentioned it once:

"A japanese company contacted me about doing an animated movie. I told them no, because they wanted to do a movie based on two or three books, and I said 'no, I won't do that.'"

@Tom Bremer: It's difficult to say. I read the first seven books when I was 17 and fairly new to the fantasy genre, and read it long before ASoIaF, PoN, MBF and other big series. I think older people who've already read a lot of fantasy may find it less interesting, though it's still far better-written than say Eddings or Feist.

@Anon: That's a good idea, and when RJ was still alive I thought it would be brilliant to do a War of the Shadow movie based on his notes and outline. Of course, that's not possible now, and I think fans will be reluctant to okay any original WoT material not okayed by RJ. That leaves really only an adaptation of existing material possible.

Anonymous said...

Good post. I'm thinking it's unlikely the studio is planning beyond the first movie. If they make the first one and it's successful, they'll make a second one. If the second one is a blockbuster they'll plan for more. If it gains a cult following then maybe it moves to TV.

I'd love to see a more planned-out approach but Hollywood being Hollywood, they are probably gonna figure it out as they go.

Anonymous said...

i don't a tv show is even being considered is it? at the last WoT convention the guys from red eagle said they were making a movie, nothing about tv. they even said who was working on it. http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/05/jordancon-interview-with-red-eagle-entertainment

Anonymous said...

Why do series have to be divided into seasons with a limited number of episodes? Couldn't there be a long series that has as many episodes as it takes to tell the story? Some soap operas run forever (I'm thinking of the German Lindenstraße). Of course WoT takes more preparation than a soap opera, so weekly episodes for years might not work. There might have to be breaks between books to catch up with production.

Adam Whitehead said...

Red Eagle have a tendency to say that things are moving along, stuff is happening, announcements will be made soon and then nothing happens. Three years after the Universal deal, more than that since they optioned the property, fans' patience with them is at an all-time low.

I have no doubt that Red Eagle want to make a movie. They will make far more money even out of a failed movie than a TV series. The point I am making (and Mondragon admits in the interview) is that you cannot tell this story in the format of film. You can tell 'a story inspired by the books' but a faithful adaptation of the early books is impossible. My argument is that if you cut three-quarters of this story (and that's being ludicrously generous; it'll be more like 90%), then what's the point of adapting it in the first place? For fans there is no point whatsoever. Newcomers might get a half-decent film sharing some names with the books. But that film will not be, and cannot be, THE WHEEL OF TIME. Red Eagle have optioned the property not to produce a faithful adaptation true to the spirit of the books, but as a stepping-stone to making some dosh. Fair enough, that's what rights-management companies exist for, but to pretend that this is the best way of telling the story on screen is an outright lie.

James D. Cormier said...

A great post, and a great discussion.

I am one of those (who Adam mentioned in passing) who feel that much of the series would be vastly improved by cutting certain parts of it. In particular, I would love to see a heron-mark sword taken to large swaths of books 7 - 10.

Adam, your point about the similarity of the bones of Rand's story is well taken - which is one reason why I think the Seanchan need to be kept in. They are one of the more original elements of the story and set it apart in many ways.

An (incomplete) list of things I would like to see disappear from a movie adaptation (not to mention the books themselves), in no particular order:

The entire Shaido storyline, post-Couladin (including Faile's abduction and Perrin's endless quest to retrieve her).

The Bowl of the Winds / climate change subplot (the concept doesn't bother me, but it took way too long to tell and could be cut or vastly shortened).

The Prophet. (The Prophet might have been interesting if, again, it didn't take such an extraordinarily long time to wrap up his subplot.) Granted, taking away the Masema entirely essentially takes away Rand's reason for calling Perrin back from Emond's Field...

The entirety of Elayne's struggle to hold on to the throne of Andor.

The entirety of the Salidar sequence, other than the bare minimum necessary to show Egwene taking power and heading for Tar Valon.


I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting. Keep in mind also that these are just things that I think would improve the series if they were removed entirely -- there are obviously many other portions that could be cut or shortened for length's sake.

I also say this with all the love, as I still think of this series as one of my favorites. Reading the Eye of the World for the first time is one of the defining moments in my memories of reading fantasy.

Alex said...

The could make the series much shorter if they edited out all the romance- I did a blog post on that ( http://www.iamcurrentlyreading.co.uk/2011/02/22/the-wheel-of-time-is-a-romantic-drama-masquerading-as-fantasy/ ).

Additionally they could also edit out all the time Elayne spends in the bath, that would saves hours, or if HBO were making it, add hours :-)

Wise Bass said...

The entire Shaido storyline, post-Couladin (including Faile's abduction and Perrin's endless quest to retrieve her).

That pretty much eliminates most of Faile, which opens the (great) possibility of simply eliminating the character altogether. She mostly exists as something for Perrin to deal with and chase after anyways. Give him something else to do in the movies/television show.

The entirety of Elayne's struggle to hold on to the throne of Andor.

You could move the events of that earlier into the whole storyline.

In fact, you could do both. Move Elayne's struggle to get control of Andor earlier into the story, and possibly move Perrin's defense of the Two Rivers later on.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing... while a load of the tertiary characters may be unnamed in a movie or a TV series, a lot of secondary characters will have to be kept in. However, in a TV series, these people will have just a few scenes in one season and many scenes in another (expecially important Aes Sedai like Verin and Sheriam, as well as the Foresaken). The same is the case with making a movie. You can't change the actors who play these characters for each installments, and I think keeping them all active for the huge nuber of years it would take to film this would be impossible.

I think a performance capture 3-D film, ala Tintin, made by a big name director like Spielberg or Jackson or Cameroon is what we need.

You're right that WoT is indeed an epic story. And I think the subtexts involved in Rand's descent into madness, Egwene's politicking, Mat's reluctance to take responsibility, and the Seanchan will be something that a lot of people may appreciate in the current world of terrorism and the fight against it. I know Jordan intended none of this, but those themes work really well in the context of today's world, something that is usually not easy to see unless you read the books all
together.

But I think live action movies would pose too much of a challenge. Forget the magic and the battles. Hoe will you create iconic places like Caemlyn, Tar Valon, Tear, Ebou Dar and Rhuidean? GRRM restricted himself to magestic castles. Jordan has huge cities, and all of them are very well described and most readers would want to see them on screen. The best option is to give up live-action.

Jordan said...

I'd say a TV series is certainly the best idea. But plan it out with extreme economy to take no more than a set number of episodes, say 150, split into 7 seasons of 21-22 episodes..

They would need to be mindful of what I felt to be the cardinal sin of the first season of Legend of the Seeker. Adding in too many filler episodes. When the first season should have adapted both "Wizard's First Rule" and "Stone of Tears" to completely finish up the Darken Rahl storyline, and set up the Chimes storyline. They didn't, it turned into monster of the week, people didn't watch it, and by the time they fixed it with season 2 it was too late.

Having it on Sunday afternoons was a terrible idea too.

Anonymous said...

but the last thing died. The one with the plucky girl, and the white tower, and all the fucking dragons at the end.
Killed by Hollywood.
Award winning script too.

Do I care if Wheel of Time comes to the screen? NOT EVER.
I want to read the ending.
POSTMAN at least did some good (orange revolution).

I hope hollywood, in total, rots in hell before they start killing good series that don't work on TV or Movies.

Wheel of Time works best as a Mud. There are several. Go, play them.

Game of Thrones works horribly as a Mud. Hope nobody's doing it, because it would suck!
But it makes grand TV.

Anonymous said...

Mud?

B.T. said...

TV would be the best medium, but the model is broken. The 10-13 episode seasons of HBO could work, but would they be committed to it? They aren't even sure Game of Thrones will be back for season 2 despite pretty big numbers. You could do a lot with a full 24-26 episode runs on primetime TV, especially on NBC who really needs a hit - look at their desperation with renewing the terrible "Heroes" and running shows like "Bionic Woman" and "The Event".

For TV, the problem becomes ratings and cost. We've seen successful Sci-fi in primetime but not Fantasy. With DVRs ruining the income-through-commercials-based-on-ratings model, it's hard to determine if costs would be covered.

Even more problematic are executives who meddle when they think they know what's best for a show. "Make Perrin the goofy sidekick to Rand! Let's get a romance going between Matt and Egwene! Where are the cute and cuddly pets?" You're dealing with marketing people who have no clue about what fans of the show want, only what they think has "worked" over the years because it fits a formula.

What you need is a screenwriter/director in Hollywood with the passion to be true to the story, and a studio willing to take a risk, like Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema did with LotR (and look where NLC is now). Obviously you can't make 14 movies, but with some tight script writing you could cut it down to 6 or 7 movies...that's Harry Potter-ish and certainly doable, but the movies would have to be no more than 2 years apart to keep actors from aging too fast and plot threads forgotten.

Anonymous said...

How do you cut out the Sanchan? Way too big a part of the plot/Mat's character arc and we still don't know what part they will play in the Last battle.

Anonymous said...

cut out parts? hell no. why dont we change everbodys name and make it a kids movie while we are at it?,
Movie producers dont have a problem
making scream 5 or final destination 5 or 6 or what ever part they are on, look up new movies coming in 2012, all remakes and parts 4s and 6s. stupid. t.v. serries= bad graphics. give me six
3 hour, rated R movies. this story deserves it. and every movie would make more money than the last...
gold mine for 6 years..... comment supzloco@yahoo.com

Adam Whitehead said...

"cut out parts? hell no. why dont we change everbodys name and make it a kids movie while we are at it?,give me six 3 hour, rated R movies."

So you don't want parts cut, but you want the entire story condensed into 6 3-hour movies? You can't have both. 6 3-hour movies would amount to, maybe at absolute best, 7 or 8% of the story from the novels.

If you want to do WoT properly on screen, you have to do it on TV. Film is not a realistic option unless you want the story gutted.

This reminds me that Part 2 of this article is a couple of months overdue. Need to get back to that.

Anonymous said...

It's too big of a task and too much risk involved to remake the books into TV or movies. I think something similar to how True Blood has done is what should be done. A Game of Thrones of just far too predictable for me to really love, although it is worth watching. However I just love True Blood because you don't know what's going to happen.

Anonymous said...

I just hope the creation of a movie or series will inspire more readers to try the books than turn away new readers with a poorly made project.

It will be interesting to see how they put it all together, but Im not holding much hope for an adaptation that holds anything close to the experience of the Wot books. Be it TV, or film.

John said...

Its said they want to stray from the traditional "family friendly" aspect other fantasy genre movies followed. (i.e. Harry potter, Narnia, Erigon etc). but aside from Blood and gore, little about the series is Mature other than the sometimes confusing plot, but the plot confounds just about everyone at times.
point being, does this mean in-book phrases like "Burning" or "Bloody" will be replaced with actual curse words in the movie?
would it even make sense to INCREASE the maturity?

Wietse Pot said...

A lot of people focus on the sheer number of pages that make up the books. In the case of RJ, this is very misleading since he is a very descriptive writer. Turning this to a visual medium will remove all descriptive parts and the reintroductions of many characters in every book. This alone will decrease the material by hundreds of pages in one stroke. Dynamite turned this series into a comic and adding pictures makes a lot of difference

Personaly, I also favor the option for an animated series. An artform that is alas underestimated by many, including the major studios.

Andrew the Author said...

Hey from what I myself have seen of the great example Game of Thrones I think that parts of the WOT series should be put into TV format with no issue, but there are certain major parts, whole books in fact, that this format would not be compatible. For instance, spoiler alert, I think that the Battles at say the end of book Two with the Ever Victorious Army the White Cloaks and the Heroes of the Horn and the Battle for Caemlyn, whatever book that’s in, are large enough and important enough to be made into full scale films, not to mention the Last Battle. So rather than having to choose from two totally different options, I think it would be better to have a balanced mix, the practicality of this kind of setup is questionable, but if say Universal and HBO teamed up they could create something that has never been successfully achieved: A continuous story that crosses from TV to movie without a mountain of series contradictions. I do however agree that T.V. would be the primary for the series.

Anonymous said...

i,m not a big fan of reading. i never read a series of books in my life, but....... my father introduced me to the wheel of time and i,ve read them all so far and am waiting for the final book. i'm a HUGE fan of the wheel of time, and i would love to see a successful tv series come from this awsome story. and i would like to congradulate branden sanderson on doing such a great job continuing the story.

Alex Doyle said...

I think the idea of a tv series with some movie makes sense thats how SG-1 did it they had 2 movies and 10 seasons. They could combine some of the books into the same season with 2-3 movies and be able to it in a similar amount of time.

Glonkable said...

I feel like I need to compare this series to a few others right now in regards to whether a movie or TV series would be better.

First off, movie option is a definite no, WAY too many books and it would not feel like the series it already is. Especially if you were to compare it to Lord of the Rings, the books are about the same size, but the Wheel of Time series is easily 5x as long. 3x if you include The Hobbit in there.

Now for the TV idea, definitely more viable, but instead of making each book its own season like what HBO is doing with Game of Thrones, take say the first 3 books and turn that into a season. That takes the series from being 14 seasons long, to about 5, around the same length of Game of Thrones (that one will be 7 seasons I believe).

Now here we can combine some movie aspects into it. I agree, the special effects won't be totally stellar due to budget on a TV series, however if you figure a book on its own can make a 3 hour movie (again, comparing to Lord of the Rings here, particularly the 3rd original movie, not the extended version which is 4 hours long), then you have 9 episodes for your first season across 3 books (3 episodes per book, each episode about an hour long).

I noticed someone else commented with the same idea with the TV arc, however I disagree with cutting the Seanchan out from the first season. The reason: We have the Horn of Valere being uesd, which will play a later role. Same with why we can't cut out the Eye of the World "side quest" either, that's where it's discovered, and it ties in to Mat, as well as later when Birgette is ripped from tel'aran'rhiod. It's hard to say what can be cut out because later they come back to play a pretty major role. And with Season 2, the Shaido play a part in how the Aiel are involved with Rand, Tanchico gives you more information with the Black Ajah. The Salidar journey though I agree can probably be drastically shortened.

I definitely disagree with the people saying there's a lot of subplots that can be cut, because I've been re-reading the series quite a bit and every time I do I notice a connection between a seemingly random subplot with the greater story. Especially when bits of the Prophecy of the Dragon are mentioned. And we still have one more book to go. I have a feeling all these subplots will prove to have a significant impact on how this last book will play out.

James Foster said...

With HBO's obvious success with Game of Thrones, and the fact that a Premium cable channel like HBO would have the budget to handle such a task, the TV series would be the best way to serve such a great series of books. The key would be Mid-Season Finales. A full 1 hour episode without commercials, would allow for a book to be covered in half a season, say 6-7 episodes, with a 1 1/2-2 hr "season" finale if needed for the major battles. this would give the network 7 full seasons of potential income, and allow a shorter amount of time for the actors/actresses to age.

bigmikatky said...

I think it could work as a mini movie series make each movie around 1 hour and 30 minutes book one would be around 5 mini movies they could make 5 in one year release them in theaters etc then after they've completed the five of them before brining the first mini movie of second book to the big screen make a blu ray set of the first five. do each accordingly. they would make money from tickets and blu ray sales both.

Anonymous said...

What ever they do please don't let the horrible people behind Legend of the seeker anywhere near it.

Best would be HBO or some well respected anime studio IMO.

Javin Goyal said...

Well now that ASOIAF series adaptation is in its fourth season and has been a huge success, i think that the best way t proceed for a WoT adaptation would be through a tv series too... infact it might be the only way (if an anime is out), movies are just not the way to go, as for the objections that a tv budget is just too small, i think HBO would be willing to invest any amount as long as it gets the suitable returns like it did in Game of Thrones, plus WoT has just so much more potential, with epic fight scenes, new creatures, a new world and most of all magic with almost no restriction or rules to its usage.. i mean some of those fight in the dream-world just beg to be put on-screen in some way... i am not a fan of cutting much of the source material, especially the seanchan part, though the shaido and prophet part and mat and tuon part may be cut a little but enough so as to not let them drag on... as for elayne and egwene's rise to power, i think that kind of politics is exactly wha would give WoT another edge.. so really, once HBO is done with GoT in 5 or so years, i would them to take up WoT..

Stephen Trotter said...

To be honest, there should be no "rush" to reach story climaxes, agreed fans would love to see the series complete but going from a tv perspective you are looking primarily for viewers, game of thrones with it's 13 episode format is great in that it really isn't trying to bottle a story into each individual episode. And if the show manages to keep it's viewership high then the series will continue. So with a focus on cutting out story points should be based not on trying to squish the story into proper sized seasons but rather on keeping viewer interest. Season 1-5(6?) could conceivably handle 1 book each with bleeding from one book into the next as appropriate, further seasons needed to greatly quicken the plot of books to keep them watchable (seriously, book 8 and 9 could have been written as one very small book and even book 10, where it starts to get interesting again, could have been a lot shorter). Let's call the last half seasons 6-10 which is manageable if the series manages to be popular.