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A24 developing TV adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea books

Illustration for article titled A24 developing TV adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guins iEarthsea /ibooks
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According to Deadline, production company A24 has teamed up with Nightcrawler producer Jennifer Fox to develop a TV adaptation of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin’s beloved series of fantasy books. No networks—or streaming services—are on board yet, but Deadline says the project will be pitched to them “soon.” Le Guin died in 2018, but Deadline notes that she gave Jennifer Fox her blessing to make an Earthsea movie before she had died, with Fox officially picking up the adaptation rights to the books a few months later. In a statement, she referring to Le Guin as a “literary legend” who is “second only to Tolkien in influence” in the fantasy genre, and so she considers it a “sacred trust and priority” to get this adaptation of Earthsea right.


The original books (and related short stories) concern the eponymous Earthsea archipelago and the fantastical, magical things that happen there, and while Earthsea embraces fantasy iconography like dragons and wizards, it explicitly rejects the idea that all fantasy should be set in vaguely medieval times with predominantly white people. Also, Le Guin granting Fox her blessing for this adaptation seems like a good thing, but it’s especially noteworthy in this case because of the bad attempts to adapt Earthsea that happened in the past.

The Sci-Fi Channel (before it was Syfy) made a three-hour TV movie in 2004 that played extremely loose with the source material, leaving Le Guin (who was not involved in any way) to effectively denounce the project. There was also a Studio Ghibli anime version that told more or less its own story, sidelining the more high-minded themes of Le Guin’s original work in favor of a more traditional (some might say “clichéd”) story about good guys trying to kill bad guys.

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