EXCLUSIVE: For those wondering how they will possibly survive without Game of Thrones after Sunday’s finale, maybe there’s epic fantasy life beyond Westeros. How about an epic fantasy series adaptation of a bestselling Stephen King novel, one that taps into the mythology of King’s epic Dark Tower and even shares a major villain character from the author’s masterwork, The Stand? It has the requisite faeries, elves and dragons of the fantasy fare — sans the fiery genocide and sexual brutality that was a trademark of GOT.
Hulu has made a deal to develop a pilot based on the King novel Eyes of the Dragon, which was first published in 1984. Seth Grahame-Smith (Lego Batman Movie) is writing the opening episode and serving as the showrunner. Fox 21 is the studio. Grahame and his KatzSmith partner David Katzenberg will be exec producers along with Bill Haber, Roy Lee and Jon Berg.
Hulu competed with Apple for the rights and won the auction.
Dragon takes place in fictional realm of Delain and tells the story of power and the path of two prince brothers.
King Roland’s manipulative magician, Flagg, sees his power threatened when Queen Sasha gives birth to Peter, an heir to the throne. When the queen is pregnant with a second son, Flagg gets her midwife to mortally wound the queen and so begins his plot to dispose of the future king. Peter brings wine to his father’s bed chambers each night and Flagg poisons the potion and frames the son. The magician has meanwhile also been manipulating the younger son, Thomas, showing him secret passages where the boy can spy on his father. Thomas sees the murder of the king and the frameup of his brother, but is torn when Peter is found guilty and locked in an enormous tower. After all with Peter gone, he’s king at age 12. He allows Flagg widespread power that corrupts the kingdom. Meanwhile, Peter must attempt an escape to thwart Flagg and win back the throne.
King stepped out of the horror headspace when he wrote this book in 1984, mainly because he wanted to write something his kids could read. I wouldn’t say that worked out so well, because Joe Hill and Owen King are cranking out books in the same frightful wheelhouse. King’s hardcore horror fans screamed bloody murder — even though reviewers liked his literary detour into fantasy — and King addressed all that when he wrote Misery. Its plot — an author is stalked by a psycho fan upset her fave character was going to be killed — was a metaphor about King’s frustration of being shackled to scare fare.
The book was attempted as a movie and a series years back; it is a challenge to adapt. But I can also remember years ago breaking the story that David Benioff & D.B. Weiss had set up the George RR Martin novel series Game of Thrones at HBO: the ensuing reaction was that Martin wrote it to be impossible to adapt because of all the frustration that author endured writing scripts. Most felt it would never get made.
“I am so excited to be working in the world of Stephen King with with Hulu, which has such a terrific track record with Stephen King adaptations,” Grahame-Smith told Deadline. “The goal for this series is to feel unlike any Stephen King adaptation before, with this rich underlying source material, and the only true fantasy book he wrote that has kings and swords and princesses. We will honor the spirit of the book and the legacy.”
King’s literary properties are repped by Paradigm.