Disney has recruited Lord of the Rings co-writer Philippa Boyens to script an adaptation of T.A. Barron‘s long-running The Merlin Saga. Boyens earned the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay back in 2002 for her work with Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh on Return of the King, and The Merlin Saga marks her first major gig outside that long-running collaboration. Along with their return to Middle Earth with The Hobbit films, Boyens also co-scripted King Kong and The Lovely Bones.
Barron’s Merlin series kicked off in 1996 with The Lost Years of Merlin, which follows the young sorcerer, Emrys, in ancient Wales where he discovers he has unusual powers like “second sight”, which allows him to see without using his eyes. With no memory of his past, Emrys embarks on a quest to discover the truth of his past and the origin of his mysterious abilities. From there, the series spanned another eleven books as young Merlin travels to enchanted lands, gaining wisdom and facing mortal danger along the way.
Deadline reports that The Merlin Saga is exactly the right material at exactly the right time for Boyens, who has yet to line up another collaboration with Jackson and Walsh after wrapping up their second round in Middle Earth. From the studio’s angle, Boyens is a good get for Disney as a talented writer with experience in building fantastical, otherworldly franchises on screen.
Warner Bros. previously made a go of the material with Ed Whitworth poised to pen the adaptation, but opted to go a different route with the King Arthur mythos with the Guy Ritchie Directed King Arthur: Knights of the Roundtable. Disney then picked up Barron’s Merlin Saga after Warner Bros let the rights go. Disney also supposedly has a live-action Sword in the Stone remake in development Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman, but there’s no word if these projects might conflict, overlap, or merge at this point.
Here’s the synopsis for Book 1 of The Merlin Saga, The Lost Years of Merlin, via T.A. Barron’s official site.
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.