Hoping that movie audiences might be interested in a popular young-adult book about a boy wizard—one destined for greatness, but who must first undergo extensive training and learn to defeat the darkness within—Disney is readying an adaptation of Young Merlin, a sprawling fantasy about everyone forgetting that Harry Potter already exists. Though, to be fair, author T.A. Barron published the first of his series, The Lost Years Of Merlin, in 1996, nearly a year before that other author with initials for a name came along with her own boy wizard story. Still, the similarities probably haven’t helped Young Merlin find traction as it’s been passed around from studio to studio—the most recent being in 2011, when Harry Potter’s home of Warner Bros. picked it up as a possible, incredibly obvious replacement for that franchise.
Now it’s Disney’s turn, which not only has to overcome the shadow of Harry Potter (including that upcoming spinoff) and the BBC series Merlin, but potentially Guy Ritchie’s equally sprawling take on the Arthurian legend—to say nothing of Disney’s own recent attempt to launch a Harry Potter-like franchise with 2010’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Right now it has Lara Croft: Tomb Raider writers Patrick Massett and John Zinman working on the latest draft, in which they will once again plunder the ancient past for sexy new adventure. Fortunately, if there’s one thing that people love about their favorite characters, it’s seeing them when they’re little kids who aren’t good at anything yet.