Dragonriders of Pern, one of the biggest-selling science fiction novel series, is being turned into a live-action feature. David Hayter has been set to write the script for Dragonflight, the first novel in a series that includes 22 novels generated by Anne McCaffrey. Steve Hoban’s Copperheart Entertainment has teamed with Hayter and Benedict Carver’s Dark Hero Studios and Angry Films partners Don Murphy and Susan Montford on the project. Entertainment One is also a partner and has gotten the project off the ground by acquiring distribution in Canada, with talks ongoing to acquire numerous other territories that will include the UK and Australia.

The first book was published in 1968. It focuses on an elite group of warriors who take to the skies on the backs of giant, fire-breathing dragons with telepathic powers, as they to save the exotic planet of Pern from a terrifying airborne menace.

Hoban said he first tried to acquire McCaffrey’s series 14 years ago when he was an executive at IMAX. Several years later, it built steam but was postponed by another flying dragon project, Eragon, which didn’t breathe much fire. The series kept going though, and now spans 22 books. It came together with the current players. Hayter’s sci-fi/fantasy script credits include X-Men and Watchmen, while Murphy and Montford’s work includes Transformers, At the Mountains of Madness and the upcoming Shawn Levy-directed Hugh Jackman starrer Real Steel. It was Hayter and Carver who brought in Entertainment One’s Patrice Theroux. Hoban said that the conceptual art has been generated and Hayter should have a script later this year. The plan is to get the flying dragons off the ground by next year. McCaffrey continues to write her dragon series, at age 85. The books span several thousands of years and generations of characters, but Hoban said there is plenty to launch a franchise.