Amazon has given a series order to an adaptation of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time – marking a long and curious journey to the screen for the fantasy epic.
Amazon Prime Video will launch the one-hour series in over 200 countries and territories with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Chuck writer Rafe Judkins, who first found fame as a contestant on Survivor, adapting. It will be produced by Sony Pictures Television and Amazon Studios.
The Wheel of Time had been in the works at Amazon for about a year, with new Head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke telling Deadline in June that she was set to read the script over the summer and the project was “very much alive”.
The Wheel of Time, which has sold over 90M books around the world, is set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists, but only women can use it. The story follows Moiraine, a member of the shadowy and influential all-female organization called the ‘Aes Sedai’ as she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young men and women. Moiraine believes one of them might be the reincarnation of an incredibly powerful individual, whom prophecies say will either save humanity or destroy it. The series draws on numerous elements of European and Asian culture and philosophy, most notably the cyclical nature of time found in Buddhism and Hinduism.
Judkins serves as showrunner and executive producer, alongside Rick Selvage and Larry Mondragon of Red Eagle Entertainment, Ted Field and Mike Weber of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle producer Radar Pictures and Shrek Forever After producer Darren Lemke. Robert Jordan’s widow Harriet McDougal is a consulting producer.
The Wheel of Time has taken its time to get to screen; the multi-volume fantasy epic was first published in 1990. NBC optioned the rights in 2000 but didn’t progress; Jordan sold the TV, film, video game and comic rights to Red Eagle in 2004. In 2015, Red Eagle paid air time to cable network FXX to air Winter Dragon, a 22-minute Billy Zane-fronted “pilot” for a potential The Wheel of Time series that allowed Red Eagle to hold on to the rights to the project, a situation that was resolved with the Robert Jordan Estate in 2016.
“The Wheel of Time is endlessly fascinating and resonates hugely with fans as one of the best-selling global properties, and we were drawn to its timely narrative featuring powerful women at the core,” said Amazon’s Salke. “We’re thrilled to extend our relationship with devotees who’ve found the book series transformative and welcome new ones by bringing it to life on Prime Video for viewers worldwide.”
“Developing and producing Robert Jordan’s beloved fourteen-books-series for TV is a big undertaking, and we don’t take it lightly,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, Head of Event Series, Amazon Originals. “We believe that Rafe’s personal connection to the material and soulful writing will resonate with the book’s passionate fans.”
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to produce The Wheel of Time with our friends at Amazon,” said Sony Pictures Television Co-President Chris Parnell. “In Rafe Judkins, we’ve found a brilliant visionary that is a true fan of the books and ready to bring Robert Jordan’s world to life.”
Judkins added, “For so many people, including me, this book series has served as a world to escape to, to lose yourself in, to devour and inhabit completely. And I couldn’t be more honored to be the one finally bringing that world to life on screen, for old fans to lose themselves in all over again and new fans to discover for the very first time.”