Six long months ago, Working Title began developing a film based around the Arthurian legend of Merlin with author Jay Basu, and while the slopping of public domain characters into the trough generally inspires a squealing feeding frenzy, somehow Hollywood is only now getting around to crafting a competing Merlin project. Perhaps Hollywood shouldn’t have filled up on Snow Whites, Peter Pans, and Harry Houdinis. Anyway, if other producers do plan to jump in and create the by-now-standard four to five variations on the same idea, they should get moving: Basu has already taken the “contemporary setting” angle, and now Warner Bros. is running with the “origin story,” hiring former journalist turned script reader for Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo to adapt The Lost Years Of Merlin, the T.A. Barron fantasy series that (somewhat like the current BBC series) explores the wizard’s life from his early days as a wandering orphan to his tenure as the chief magic man of Camelot.
With a story that spreads over five books and many years, naturally the studio is already pitching Lost Years as a possible replacement for its winding-down Harry Potter series, meaning this Merlin project has already snapped up the “tentpole franchise” skein as well. So that basically leaves only the mash-up revisionism (Merlin and a time-traveling Teddy Roosevelt fight Genghis Khan, who’s aided by aliens!) or the dark reimagining, perhaps where it’s revealed that all the Knights of the Round Table are actually just hallucinations brought on by Merlin’s schizophrenia. Get pitchin’!