Skydance Television announced a a multi-year overall agreement today with writer-producers Patrick Massett and John Zinman (Friday Night Lights, The Blacklist, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider).

The studio currently has several projects in development with the pair, including the first-ever live action television series for Sword Art Online, the Japanese novel and anime franchise (Skydance acquired the global rights last year).

Massett and Zinman will serve as writers, showrunners, and executive producers on the Skydance series. With Massett and Zinman, Laeta Kalogridis (Avatar) will write the pilot episode and serve as an executive producer on the SAO series alongside David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Marcy Ross. Kalogridis has an exclusive overall deal at Skydance, and introduced the studio to the property.

Patrick Massett
Skydance

“Patrick and John have shown incredible range in their storytelling capabilities, from subtle character drama to big, world-building action, and we are beyond fortunate that they have joined the Skydance family,” said Skydance Television President Marcy Ross. “We’re already deep in development with Patrick, John, and Laeta on our larger than life Skydance SAO series, in which we aim not only to satisfy the franchise’s enthusiastic sci-fi and anime fan base but also to appeal to new TV audiences the world over.”

John Zinman
Skydance

Said Massett and Zinman in a joint statement: “The fantastical world of SAO offers an unparalleled opportunity to tell stories that resonate on both an epic and human scale. We couldn’t ask for better partners than Skydance and Laeta to help us bring this global pop culture phenomenon to new life on television.”

Skydance’s SAO series will follow brilliant young beta tester Kirito and his group of friends when they are trapped, along with 10,000 other people, in a next-generation virtual reality online role-playing game filled with swordfighting, monsters, and mystery.

Massett and Zinman’s television careers began with Veritas: The Quest at ABC, which they co-created and executive produced before going on to co-executive produce Friday Night Lights at NBC, The Chicago Code at Fox, and Last Resort at ABC. The duo then co-executive produced The Blacklist at NBC. Their most recent television credit includes executive producers and showrunners at NBC’s The Player. Their film Gold was released in January 2017. Their films Resistance and Sea of Thunder are currently in pre-production.