Tuesday, 28 April 2020

New DISCWORLD TV adaptations announced, unrelated to THE WATCH

Narrativia, the production company set up by the late Sir Terry Pratchett and now led by his daughter and former business partner, has announced a new partnership with Motive Pictures to bring some more of Pratchett's Discworld novels to the screen.

Discworld has already enjoyed multiple television adaptations, with Cosgrove Hall adapting Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music as animated series in the late 1990s and Sky Television adapting Hogfather, The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic and Going Postal as live-action serials between 2007 and 2010.

BBC America was shooting a new series called The Watch, "inspired" by Pratchett's novels Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms and Night Watch, although it's unclear if shooting was completed before the coronavirus pandemic shut down productions worldwide. The adaptation was extremely controversial with fans for adopting a completely different aesthetic compared to the books and recasting a rotund, middle-aged female character with a younger, "sexier" equivalent. Narrativia, although retaining a producer's credit, had significantly distanced itself from the project and even thrown mild shade at it in later statements, clarifying that they were deeply involved with the project when it began at the BBC in the UK but it had changed tone and feel when it was moved to BBC America.

The Jim Henson Company is deep in pre-production on a film version of The Wee Free Men, the first in the Tiffany Aching sub-series aimed at younger viewers. Rhianna Pratchett is involved in this project as a writer, and it seems to be skewing much more closely to the books.

The new collaboration also seems rooted in faithfulness to Pratchett's text, as both Narrativia and Motive bring up a desire to make a more "resolutely faithful" version of the stories in what feels like even more shade being cast at BBC America's project.

What books are being discussed for adaptation is unclear. It's assumed that the City Watch sub-series is firmly optioned by BBC America, whilst the Jim Henson Company has the rights to The Wee Free Men and possibly the rest of the Tiffany Aching arc. That still leaves a large number of books available, including the iconic Witches sub-series, the widely-adored stand-alone novel Small Gods, and other stand-alones including Pyramids and Moving Pictures. Assuming that Sky One's option has now expired, the Rincewind and Moist von Lipwig sub-series are also presumably now available once again.

The television and film rights situation with Terry Pratchett's books is interesting, because normally a production company would option the rights to the entire setting even if they were only planning to adapt one book. For example, HBO owns the TV and film rights to the Westeros setting, so only they can make TV shows or films in that setting even if George R.R. Martin wanted, say, Netflix to make a Dunk & Egg show. In the case of Pratchett this was not possible due to the sheer volume of books (41 in total) and how they were split into sub-arcs. The result is a complex situation where some companies are adapting some books and others are adapting others, in some cases sharing characters with different actors (not dissimilar to the Fox/Paramount/Sony split of Marvel Comics characters).

More news as it comes in.

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