EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate and Little Women and King Lear producer Playground Entertainment have teamed on a major fantasy project – a television adaptation of Tamora Pierce’s expansive Tortall Universe series.
The Orange Is the New Black studio and Colin Callender’s production company, which was also behind Jodie Comer’s The White Princess, have optioned the rights to the 22 book series from Donald Laventhall of Folio on behalf of Pierce.
It is Playground’s first move into a major television franchise, though the company also produces the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, and the two companies hopes of turning it into a tentpole series that crosses over between fans of Game of Thrones and YA novels.
Talks are underway with potential showrunners. Playground’s Colin Callender, Scott Huff and David A. Stern will executive produce.
The Tortall Universe series consists of more than 20 books and short stories. It is set in Tortall, a kingdom populated with lords and ladies, knights and sorcerers, and where few people are lucky enough to possess magical gifts.
Tortall and its surrounding countries is a medieval fantasy universe, the home of an interesting assortment of heroes, many of them girls. There is military danger from neighbors like northern Scanra, eastern Tusaine, and worst of all, imperial Carthak in the south, with its ever-hungry slave culture and its greedy mage emperor. Pirates from Carthak, Scanra, and the Copper Isles haunt Tortall’s eastern shores. In a country both large and sparsely policed, there is always a risk of conflict, be it from rebel nobles, the impoverished people of the eastern hills, or the barely vanquished Bazhir tribes.
Books include The Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, The Protector of the Small, Tricksters, Beka Cooper: A Tortall Legend and The Numair Chronicles. The series covers modern day themes of feminism, LGBQT, love, lust, coming of age, diversity and class relations.
Pierce said, ““Not only am I over the moon that the Tortall books will be adapted by Playground, but I know my fans will be ecstatic.”
Callender added, “Tamora has proven time and again that she is an unparalleled world-builder. The breadth of the source material in her Tortall series is staggering and we’re thrilled to be partnering with her to bring these incredible stories to life.”