Monday, 1 June 2020

Michael Moorcock rules out an ELRIC TV show or movie in the near future, citing similarities to THE WITCHER

Michael Moorcock, creator of the infamous sword-wielding albino Elric of Melnibone, has reported (via Ansible) that TV and film interest in his creation has dried up due to the success of Netflix's The Witcher and HBO's Game of Thrones.

"Heard today that some companies are turning down Elric project because it reminds them too much of GOT and The Witcher. A pretty irony. So much for “homages”...."

Elric's creation first appeared in the 1961 novella The Dreaming City, as a nobleman of a doomed empire cursed to wield the soul-feasting, intelligent sword Stormbringer. Elric went on to appear in numerous short stories, novellas and novels (most notably Stormbringer, published in 1965), the most recent of which was published in 2010.

Elric may be counted as one of fantasy's single most influential and important characters, inspiring a character of the same name in the television series Babylon 5, the rather blatant homage character of Anomander Rake in Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen and, indeed, Geralt of Rivia. However, Geralt is similar to Elric only superficially: both are white-haired and have the nickname "the White Wolf," but Geralt is not a sickly albino and his day job, killing monsters for coin, is much lower-profile than Elric's stories which normally see his homeland, the entire world or, on occasion, the entire universe in peril.

Although Geralt and Elric are very different characters, that superficial similarity seems to shut Hollywood's interest in the character, although I suspect such interest was relatively low to begin with: the Elric stories are hugely important in the history of SFF, but are much less well-known these days than either Sapkowski or Martin's work. An Elric movie has been mooted since the 1970s and never taken off, long before The Witcher or GoT came on the scene. The Elric stories are pretty grim and almost nihilistic in a way that even GoT at its grimmest is not, and they also lack a well-developed, large supporting cast that a TV show or even a movie would really need to work. The production budget would also need to be enormous.

We may yet see some of Moorcock's other work on the screen, though. The BBC are still developing a TV series based on Moorcock's four-volume History of the Runestaff fantasy series.


Andy said...

There are no female characters worth speaking of and I can't imagine the industry jumping on this amidst other better content, though stuff that is less important to the development of SFF. I can't imagine Sapkowski being better or more well known than Moorcock, but I guess a series can take you far. And Moorcock is always his own worst enemy, ranting against Tolkien and other authors. Not who you want to work with to turn decades old content into something that speaks to current concerns

Adam Whitehead said...

I think in 2020, with video games that have sold almost 40 million copies and books that have sold more than 6 million copies, not to mention a TV show watched by more than 40 million people worldwide in its first season, it's fair to say that THE WITCHER is far better-known than Elric and Moorcock among a general audience.

Andy said...

Sorry, I meant Sapkowski's books vs Moorcock's. It's an obvious no contest if you include other media. And I'm really interested in the percentage of Sapkowski's work that is read cover to cover as opposed to purchased as a tie in, vice the same percentage for Moorcock. I thought your reviews were quite fair but for me Sapkowski is an odd duck. Never thought a video game could be a better exploration of a character than the original book, but in this case I think it is.