Game of Thrones begins this weekend and a lot of people are commenting on how HBO is throwing a great deal of weight behind this new, and somewhat risky, venture.
Fantasy has never been a genre that has proven highly successful on TV, it is expensive, requires a very niche market of fan base and before Lord of the Rings was viewed as a subpar genre for acting, but HBO is looking to change that.
HBO is now under negotiations for the rights of Neil Gaiman’s most renowned novel – American Gods. It is reported that the current plan is for cinematographer Robert Richardson and Neil Gaiman to jointly script the pilot.
According to Slashfilm American Gods would actually make quite good source material for TV series. It is expansive enough to fill a season or two, with many avenues to explore character backstories and even introduce new characters. The Hugo winning story is about a man released from prison named Shadow who encounters an old con man named Mr. Wednesday. The old con hires to be his bodyguard. The book continues on as it tells the story of a power struggle between the old gods and new gods. The book has both very old and well known gods and newer lesser deities and one of the big setpieces takes place at a real location, the House on the Rock, which has since played home to at least one huge American Gods-themed event.
According to Deadline, Robert Richardson brought the material to Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman of Playtone and they in turn took it to HBO. Mr. Richardson won the Oscar for the Aviator and JFK and has nominations for Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, Snow Falling on Cedars, and Inglorious Basterds.
This is not the first Gaiman project to be taken to the screen. Coraline and Stardust have been made into movies and he has written for TV as well including a small show called Doctor Who. Reports still say the Sandman TV series in the works, though details on that are very thin and Neil Jordan is working to make a film based on The Graveyard Book, but that seems to have a way to go yet, too.