This December, Warner Bros. will release the final installment in Peter Jackson’s mega-successful Hobbit trilogy, and execs over at that studio are already scrambling to find a fantasy franchise capable of replacing it. The studio, which also released all eight Harry Potter films, already has Joe Wright’s Peter Pan origin tale Pan, David Yates’ Tarzan and Guy Ritchie’s Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur on the docket, but none of those exactly scream ‘franchise’ to me. Recently, Warner Bros. announced that it was optioned another sprawling fantasy series with plans to create a franchise – Anne McCaffrey’s bestselling Dragonriders of Pern series.
With 23 volumes, McCaffrey’s series is one of the biggest selling science-fiction series of all time. Dragonriders of Pern centers on a prestigious group of warriors who fly on the backs of dragons with whom they have developed a telepathic link. These dragonriders are the only line of defense that denizens of the planet Pern have against Thread, a symbiotic spore that periodically wreaks chaos on Pern due to the orbit of the Red Star.
The first book, Dragonflight, was published in 1968, and though McCaffrey’s books never gained rabid readership in the way that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series did, they have endured the test of time and are still often ranked as one of the best sci-fi fantasy series of all time.
Fans will doubtless be excited to hear of the deal – previous efforts to bring McCaffrey’s work to the screen all failed for various reasons, but Warner Bros. seems set on adapting Dragonriders of Pern into a blockbuster fantasy franchise capable of filling the void left by Harry Potter and The Hobbit. Given the sprawling nature of McCaffrey’s series, however, the first order of business will be finding a scribe capable enough to keep the books’ spirit intact while still positioning Dragonriders of Pern as a crowd-pleasing tentpole.