Skydance Media has acquired global live action rights to Sword Art Online, the Japanese novel and anime franchise, in partnership with KADOKAWA Corporation. Skydance says it will fast-track the launch of a new franchise by developing and producing the first live action SAO TV series.
Laeta Kalogridis (Avatar, Terminator Genisys) will write the pilot episode and serve as an executive producer alongside David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross.
Sword Art Online is a global franchise based on the 22-book novel series by Reki Kawahara. The books, according to Skydance, have sold over 19 million print copies worldwide, and have been spun off into nine comic adaptations, two anime television series, a video game and merchandise program. An animated film is set for release in Japan in 2017.
The new series, says Skydance, 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. Following the television series, Skydance plans to launch a first-of-its-kind SAO virtual reality experience through Skydance Interactive.
Skydance Media Chief Executive Officer David Ellison called SAO “a massive pop-culture phenomenon from which we plan to launch a full-scale and wide-ranging set of live action franchise extensions across our business verticals, beginning with television.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude to everyone involved in this project, and to the fans all over the world who have so generously and enthusiastically supported SAO,” said author Reki Kawahara.
Kalogridis has a first-look and consulting arrangement with Skydance and is currently writing and executive producing the studio’s sci-fi television series Altered Carbon for Netflix. She is repped by WME.