Ridley Scott looking to direct Disney adaptation of The Merlin Saga

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Ridley Scott’s latest trips back to his Alien universe have gone about as well as having a yonic extraterrestrial latching onto your face and laying its eggs through your oesophagus. With the critical and commercial stumbles of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, maybe it’s time for the acclaimed veteran director to try his hand at more family-friendly franchise filmmaking? That appears to be exactly what he plans to do, as Variety reports that Scott is currently in talks with Disney to direct their planned adaptation of T.A. Barron’s popular The Merlin Saga books.

Kicked off in 1996 with The Lost Years of Merlin, Barron’s dozen-strong book series detailed the origin story of the famous literary wizard Merlin from his time as a young boy to eventually becoming the wise mentor to the fabled King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The Merlin Saga is actually divided into three series focusing on different times in Merlin’s life, with books 1-5 comprising The Lost Years of Merlin Epic, books 6-8 comprising the Merlin’s Dragon Trilogy, and books 9-11 making up The Great Tree of Avalon Trilogy. The twelfth and final entry in the franchise, Merlin: The Book of Magic, acts as an encyclopedia/compendium to the series, detailing all the characters and locations found in it. Here’s the synopsis for The Lost Years of Merlin:

A raging sea tosses a boy upon the shores of ancient Wales. Left for dead, he has no memory, no name, and no home. But it is his determination to find out who he is—to learn the truth about his mysterious powers—that leads him to a strange and enchanted land. And it is there he discovers that the fate of this land and his personal quest are strangely entwined.

Warner Bros initially optioned Barron’s series back in 2012, with Barron himself initially working on the screenplay. In 2014, the project moved house to Disney and in 2015 the studio brought on Philippa Boyens, the co-writer/producer of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, to work on a new draft of the script which she turned in to Disney in November of last year. The script for the film – which according to Barron will “necessarily be different in some ways from the books” – will be adapting the first two books, The Lost Years of Merlin and The Seven Songs, into one feature film which Scott will possibly direct as his next project despite his previous claims that he would start shooting the Alien: Covenant sequel this July (that film’s box office crash may have had something to do with that).

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Despite being 80 years old, Scott is still a very active filmmaker. He recently proved just how spry he still is when he pulled off the mind-blowing filmmaking miracle of recasting and reshooting all of Kevin Spacey’s scenes – in light of all the sexual assault allegations levelled against the actor – with Christopher Plummer in the factual drama All the Money In the World in just 20 days to make its release date. With that kind of energy, I’m sure that Scott can still be around to direct several chapters of this franchise if he officially signs on and it’s successful enough. Coincidentally, Disney has another Merlin-related project in the works, the live-action adaptation of their classic 1963 animated King Arthur film Sword in the Stone, and they were also talking to Scott about directing that. No word on whether those talks are still ongoing. With the way Scott has been working lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if he just ends up directing both.

Last Updated: January 8, 2018

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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