EXCLUSIVE: If you’re a studio not named Disney, you never have enough branded film franchises. They are hard to hatch, but they are the life blood of studios trying to change their station on a global scale. Paramount is sure trying to hatch one with the Ology series of 13 books: the studio has some of the top screenwriters of the moment in a room with Akiva Goldsman, who’s overseeing the whole thing and producing through his Weed Road banner.
Taking part in the writers room right now are Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle scribe Jeff Pinkner; Pulitzer Prize-winning Kavalier and Clay author Michael Chabon; Kingkiller Chronicle scribe Lindsey Beer; Black Panther and People Vs. OJ Simpson scribe Joe Robert Cole; Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel scribe Nicole Perlman; and Christina Hodson, who emerged from a Transformers writers room awhile ago with the job scripting the spinoff movie Bumblebee, which Paramount releases December 21.
The writers room is being presided over by Paramount’s top creative execs Wyck Godfrey and Liz Raposo, and the hope is that each of the writers will embrace one of the books, and create a treatment with the visual artists who are part of this writers room. If all passes muster, the idea will be to have seven movie scripts with interconnected stories. The films will be produced by Goldsman, the A Beautiful Mind scribe who moved his deal to Paramount and is separately mounting another franchise, the spinoff of the Jack Ryan novels by the late Tom Clancy. Rainbow Six focuses on Clark, the ex-Navy SEAL who was seen in several of the Ryan films, and there have been loose discussions about Ryan Reynolds becoming involved to potentially play him. Josh Applebaum & Andre Nemec are writing.
Goldsman will also write one of the Ology scripts.
The Ology books are a hugely popular series of 13 fictional YA encyclopedias from Templar Publishing, with titles that include Spyology, Knightology, Dinosaurology, Dragonology, Alienology, Monsterology, Vampireology, Mythology and Egyptology. The books have sold more than 18 million copies in more than 40 languages, with spinoff titles and merchandise. Paramount’s ambition is for a live-action family franchise universe, built around a research institute, where the fringe sciences that no one else takes seriously are studied in earnest.
Geoff Stier is overseeing the effort for Paramount and Weed Road’s Greg Lessans, latter of whom will be exec producer. Kohner Agency reps Templar Publishing. The rights to these books were scattered about, but when Universal let some of the titles lapse, a competitive auction was held for the entire series. Paramount and Fox were both into it, but Paramount emerged with the rights.