Lionsgate is banking on the team behind its mega-successful Hunger Games franchise to work similar magic on an adaptation of Homer’s ancient poem The Odyssey, which the studio hopes will birth an ambitious franchise. Simultaneously, execs are looking at Homer’s other epic, The Iliad, as another potential tentpole.
“We’re feeling very, very bullish,” Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairman Rob Friedman said recently about the in-development project. Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) is attached to direct The Odyssey, working with Hunger Games writer Peter Craig and producer Nina Jacobson. The plan for that adaptation “contemplates more than one movie,” according to CEO Jon Feltheimer.
Though both Odyssey and Iliad are in very early stages of development, the former is on the fast track, with Lionsgate looking at getting production underway by early next year, after Lawrence and company are done promoting the final Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay – Part 2. This is being eyed as a big, epic retelling of the story, with pricey visual effects and an all-star cast.
Homer’s Odyssey tells the epic tale of Greek warrior Odysseus, who embarks on a ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the decade-long Trojan War. His journey is derailed by the meddling of gods, and he encounters all kinds of obstacles, from nymph Calypso to a cyclops and a skirmish with sirens. All the while, Odysseus’ wife Penelope wards off the advances of hundreds of suitors.
The potential for a multi-film franchise is clear, and with the healthy box office returns of Noah, there’s a sentiment that audiences want to see more epic stories with roots in ancient literature. No such project has been undertaken before for The Odyssey (though the poem is said to have inspired the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?), so it will definitely be interesting to see how this one shapes up.