There’s no way in hell Warner Brothers is letting the most profitable franchise since Star Wars go without something waiting in the wings to carry its momentum. However, plenty of studios have tried jump-starting their own imitations of the Potter franchise to little success, and despite an attempt every single year, the inability to hit the Nov/Dec epic fantasy release sweet spot of LOTR has become almost legendary as well. Even Twilight has remained fairly singular, as 2011 has already provided us with more than one example of flopping copycats. It’s just a fact that some franchises strike a nerve, and trying to engineer something to fill those shoes is rarely going to work out. But. If there’s one way to follow up films about the most famous boy-wizard of all time, it would be with a franchise about the boy wizarding years of the most famous wizard of all time, period.

It is perhaps this thinking then, that’s gotten a screenwriter plucked from obscurity to write a massive blockbuster franchise starter, after years of plugging away on screenplays while employed as a reader for Oprah’s production company…

Ed Whitworth is the name of the lucky guy who will be writing the adaptations of T.A. Barron’s The Lost Years of Merlin, which Warner Brothers has targeted as their post-Potter priority. They snapped it up from Paramount when the rights lapsed, and have assigned Green Lantern producer Donal De Line to make it happen. There’s no word on a target release, but Whitworth is already knee-deep in writing it, after a whirlwind hiring process that ultimately had him becoming good friends with the book’s author (they’re both Oxford grads).

Whitworth’s story is inspirational, filled with perserverance and dedication to his dream of screenwriting. It’s nice to see his work pay off, and one wonders if extra attention will be turned to his previous scripts, one of which is a biography of Colin Powell.

When all is said and done, Harry Potter will have outgrossed Star Wars in ticket sales, and even though inflation is obviously a factor, it will also have done so in only a decade (and one set of releases). There are still generations of rereleases, and toys, and theme parks, and home releases to make money from, same as it has been with Lucas’ baby. WB is not happy to see it finish, but there’s still billions to be made.

I’m kind of excited about a decent Merlin film though. I’ve long hoped the Potter phenomenon would result in a few decent films about magic and spellcasting, and that promise has remained unfulfilled by anything other than shitty disney films and cheap knock-offs. This will be an Arthurian tale of wizardry, sure, but that doesn’t preclude it from piling on the magical badassery that the Potter franchise has done well, but only in brief flashes (the Dumbledore v. Voldemort fight in Order of the Phoenix is a particular highlight).

Good luck to Whitworth, and fingers crossed his genuine passion means this calculated franchise will actually start off on the right foot.

Source | THR

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