Editor’s note: This morning, Rick Riordan shared a picture on his Twitter account hinting that he’d just been in a meeting with the folks at Disney+, to which fans responded enthusiastically. Riordan is the author of the popular YA Percy Jackson series about a teenager who learns he’s the son of the god Poseidon. The series has proved popular with kids and adults and resulted in spinoff series’ set in the Percy Jackson universe.
While Riordan didn’t reveal any details about his Disney+ meeting, fans are hopeful this means there’s a potential future for Percy Jackson and his friends on the streaming platform. With Riordan teasing a Disney+ home for his character, we thought today would be perfect to share the following article from our own Bill Gowsell. BIll’s been a fan of Riordan’s work since book one and here he presents his request to Disney to give the beloved character a reboot.
January 2019 brought a new year and a new acquisition for the Walt Disney Company. Disney closed the mega deal that saw the purchase of 21st Century Fox which ballooned the Disney vault with content. Amongst the treasures joining the House of Mouse were The Fantastic Four and X-Men. The Marvel Cinematic Universe would only continue to grow and prosper thanks to the addition of these important characters. But there was another universe waiting for its closeup on the big screen. The Percy Jackson film rights went back to Disney with the purchase.
20th Century Fox’s first go at the book series was a disaster. The script was weak, coherent details that would propel a five-book series to the screen were abandoned, and low brow humor was added that was both inept and not funny. Fans who clamoured for this literary world to come to the big screen were disappointed and the box office returns muddied the waters for potential growth. The Percy Jackson movies cannot compare to the books. Fans want another attempt made. If we can have three people play Spider-Man on the big screen in the last 15 years, there should be another Percy Jackson movie.
But how can Disney bring the Greek mythology world to the screen. I have a few ideas.
The Big Screen: If Disney were to bring the Riordan world back to the big screen, it needs to be a long-term investment. That means they must cast age appropriate actors to play the role of the kids. The Lightning Thief
is the start of the original five-book series. If this is going to be rebooted, the screenwriters and producers need to see this as a film series and not just a one off. That means this movie needs to be cast appropriately. Switching the ages of the kids to appeal to a teen audience is not going to work.
Now a decade after The Lightning Thief was first released, you might think the fans have grown up and moved on from this book series. Wrong! The Lightning Thief is one of those books that is constantly being rediscovered by kids. The Percy Jackson & The Olympians book series, which The Lightning Thief is a part of, has been on The New York Times Best Seller list for 520 weeks. That is equal to ten years. A decade!
Every Scholastic Book Order form has a Percy Jackson book available in it, and in many cases entire sets can be found in school libraries and even classrooms—I know this because I teach middle school.
The Lightning Thief is equal to the Harry Potter series for popularity and needs to be treated with that much regard when being turned into a film series. The Walt Disney Company is always looking for franchises that will have multiple returns on their investment (just look at the MCU). With the recent filming of the Artemis Fowl series by Disney, and the casting they made by going with a young unknown actor to fill the title kid role in that series of popular books, Disney can do it again for Riordan’s work. To remove the stain of what 20th Century Fox did, Disney would need to produce the film through Walt Disney Pictures, cast young kids who would grow into their roles, and then lock down noted supporting actors who would stay with the series throughout the movies.
Disney+: The streaming service is a whole other ball game for Disney content. This might be the best place to adapt the Percy Jackson series. Think of the work put into The Mandalorian, and how that series has brought in new fans to the Star Wars universe. Disney+ would be an excellent venue to start a reboot, cast a young group of actors, with solid noted supporting actors to play the adult characters, and not miss important parts of the overall story for the sake of cutting down to meet a movie time limit. Imagine the number of young kids that would push their parents to subscribe to Disney+ so they could watch their imagination come to life with the Greek gods portrayed in Rick Riordan’s books. It would be a bonanza.
The Fox acquisition has some treasure troves of material that will now become Disney canon. Bringing the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the MCU is exciting, but the MCU was doing well without them. Die Hard will now be the best Disney Christmas movie ever, but the chance to bring a Disney/Hyperion book series like the Percy Jackson series back under the Disney umbrella, and hopefully show its true potential as a film or series is the most exciting aspect of this deal to me.
Please, please, please, on behalf of the millions of fans who love the Percy Jackson series, reboot this movie franchise and do justice to the story. But, please work with Rick Riordan on this. His voice matters, his opinions are valid, he knows the fanbase, and he is a very successful writer with a legion of fans. Percy Jackson has spawned five books in the original series, five in a follow up series, and a continued side series set in the same world. Riordan’s work has been so influential that the popular Rick Riordan Presents banner at Disney/Hyperion has introduced middle school readers to other authors and their take on other mythologies. Riordan himself recently tweeted that he was in LA trying his hardest to convince the powers that be that a new adaptation was needed. Please Disney, it would be a great Christmas present to have a Percy Jackson reboot announced. Just make sure that Rick Riordan is heavily involved.