Looks like Hyperion may finally be a movie. This post is fairly long, so more after the jump:
From author Dan Simmons’ website:
Producer Graham King has set up Dan Simmons’ award-winning science fiction book series “Hyperion Cantos” at Warner Bros., with Trevor Sands on board to adapt the first two books as one feature. King is producing via his GK Films banner.
The first book, “Hyperion,” won the Hugo Award for best novel in 1990, while the second, “The Fall of Hyperion,” was nominated for a Nebula Award for best novel.
“Hyperion” deals with a space war, with most of the action taking place on a planet named Hyperion, known not only for its electricity-spewing trees but also for the Time Tombs, large artifacts that can move through time. The tombs are guarded by a monster called the Shrike, which impales people on metal trees.
King acquired the rights to the series several years ago, but its structure, inspired by Boccaccio’s “Decameron” and Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” and its multiple timelines made the task of adapting it into a feature unwieldy and challenging.
Brought in by GK Films’ Grey Rembert and Gail Lyon, Sands won over the execs by taking a selective approach to the two novels’ multiple points of view in a way that managed to coherently and unconfusingly tell the story.
Well, actually, it’s only one metal tree: The Tree Of Pain. Dan clarifies the news further on his website:
“All of four of the Hyperion Cantos novels and my novella “Orphans of the Helix,” which is also set in the Hyperion-universe, were purchased for a six-figure sum by Graham King’s company IEG – International Entertainment Group – about three years ago.
“The original idea that sold the film – or franchise of films — was based on a treatment I wrote and it was pitched and presented by two able young screenwriters. In that approach, I had deconstructed all four of the Hyperion novels so that the messiah-character of Aenea and her lover and protector Raul Endymion would have a presence in all of the films, including the first one – Hyperion. Their love story would be the continuous thread that would connect the three or four films of a Hyperion Cantos movie franchise.
“It was the actor Leonardio DiCaprio who first showed active interested in this idea for the film andfor some time there was discussion of him doing the film with director Martin Scorsese. The first draft of the screenplay was written two years ago – not by me – but producer Graham King didn’t go with that approach and the project stayed inactive since then (even to the point of my contractually not being able to announce the details of the purchase of the books.)
“Now Graham King Films has joined in partnership with Warner Brothers to make the film version of Hyperion. As you can see in the Hollywood Reporter release above, one approach now being discussed is to combine the first two novels – Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion – into one film (rather as Peter Weir combined two Patrick O’Brian books to make the film “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”) – but as is always the case in the early days of such a project, everything is in flux.
“While writer Trevor Sands has been brought aboard by Graham King for early work on story concepts, there’s been no final selection of either a definitive screenwriter or director yet.
“However, there is one director I know to be under consideration who would be wonderful for “Hyperion: The Movie.” I’m not at liberty to mention his name yet, but this director knows the Hyperion Cantos novels very, very well and has a strong sense of the cinematic potential of literary SF. Indeed, one of this director’s upcoming films is a much-anticipated reworking of an SF-movie classic.
“Those who know movies and movie-making know that there’s never a guarantee of a project being completed until the last shots are in the can – and even then some films are never released. But the Graham King Films – Warner Brothers announcement of the Hyperion Cantos purchase and their plans to go ahead with the “Hyperion” movie is a huge step forward.”
I have to say I’m thrilled that it’s not going to be Aenea and Raul the whole way through. Part of the great appeal of Hyperion, the novel, is its structure in comparison to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and the subtle yet twisted relationships between the pilgrims on their way to the Time Tombs. The introduction of two characters who don’t take stage until the third novel would muddy the story quite a bit, even if Dan himself did write the initial treatment.
I’ve publicized Dan’s books here before (and in the Stephen King forums to great extent) simply because not only can the man write in any genre you can think of, but everything he does is well done, not a halfhearted attempt like so many authors I dredge through. Hyperion is, quite simply, the most magnificent sf book I’ve ever read; I have two copies and have read it six times. And that is not faint praise: I love and own every Asimov novel I could find (well over 80 of them), as well as every novel by Arthur Clarke, Greg Bear, David Brin, Clive Barker, Stephen King, and Anne Rice (before she went all goofy). Dan Simmons has written both my favorite sf novel, Hyperion, and my favorite horror novel, Carrion Comfort.
If this movie finally makes it to the screen, I’m going to be a very happy young man.