EXCLUSIVE: MPI Original Films has acquired film and TV rights to William Forstchen’s bestselling John Matherson Trilogy, consisting of the books One Second After, One Year After and The Final Day, for series development with J. Michael Straczynski attached to write the pilot. MPI will co-produce with Vince Gerardis’ Startling Inc. (Game of Thrones).
The potential series is described as an emotionally poignant and terrifyingly real story of America’s immediate and devastating return to a pre-technological dark age in the wake of a terrorist attack.
Set in the hills of North Carolina, college professor and former military officer John Matherson must fight to preserve the lives of his family and neighbors in the wake of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. In just one second the US is completely incapacitated, thousands are killed, and millions are stranded. Planes fall from the sky, electricity goes out everywhere, supply lines collapse, and transportation is limited to pre-computer era vehicles and horses. Millions of travelers, unable to get home, wander the highways searching for shelter. In the resulting chaos, residents of John’s tight-knit community look to his leadership to guide them through the difficult decisions that must be made if any of them are to survive.
MPI’s Rob Pfaltzgraff and Stacey Parks and Startling’s Matt Kennedy will serve as executive producers on the project.
“MPI Original Films is excited to partner with Startling Inc. and J. Michael Straczynski to bring William Forstchen’s post-apocalyptic thriller to life,” said MPI president Rob Pfaltzgraff. “The series not only paints an alarming picture of the dramatic and immediate effect of an EMP but demonstrates how society can overcome immense adversity through self-reliance, personal sacrifice, hard work, and cooperation.”
Startling’s Matt Kennedy added, “We are thrilled to be working with MPI on bringing Bill Forstchen’s sensational and highly entertaining cautionary tale to the screen.”
Straczynski most recently created, wrote and show-ran (with the Wachowskis) the Netflix series Sense8 and was nominated for a Producers Guild Award for his work on the series finale film. He also created the Showtime series Jeremiah. His script for the Clint Eastwood–directed feature film Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie, was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay. His other film credits include Underworld: Awakening, World War Z, Thor and Ninja Assassin. Stracyznski currently has in development Babylon 5, described as a “from-the-ground-up reboot” of the critically acclaimed 1990s series, set at the CW with Warner Bros. Television. Straczynski is repped by A3 Artists Agency and Gendler-Kelly.
MPI Original Films is a subsidiary of the Moving Picture Institute production company and talent incubator. Its films include the 2019 feature Miss Virginia starring Uzo Aduba and A Piece of Cake starring Rich Sommer, which was recently nominated for Best Narrative Short at the Tribeca Film Festival.
MPI’s Pfaltzgraff and Parks and Startling’s Kennedy negotiated the deal with Straczynski.