The Golden Compass

Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy isn’t the easiest fantasy epic to bring to life on screen. The protagonist is a 12-year-old girl named Lyra Belacqua who runs around the grounds of Oxford University at the outset of the first book, Northern Lights (a.k.a. The Golden Compass in North America and some other areas), but that’s about as far as the “normal” goes. Turns out Lyra lives in just one of several parallel universes depicted in the series, and in hers people’s souls exist outside their bodies in the form of shape-shifting dæmons that assume a permanent form once their humans reach puberty. New Line had high hopes for turning the trilogy into the next Lord Of The Rings, but issues behind the scenes of 2007’s The Golden Compass as well as its underwhelming box office performance and critical reception put an end to that dream.

Now Deadline reports the studio is taking another stab at an adaptation, this time as an event series for BBC One. New Line Cinema will produce the project in its first foray into TV, and Pullman will executive produce alongside Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner of Bad Wolf as well as Bethan Jones for BBC One and Deborah Forte for Scholastic. No word yet on timing for the series, who will star in it, or how many episodes it will have, but Pullman did note how recent projects have proved that long stories on TV “can reach depths of characterization and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel.” So, both creatively and logistically speaking, this whole situation seems better than an $180 million film that flopped despite boasting both armored bears and Daniel Craig’s beard.