Hello everyone, and I’m back with a new story that I don’t think that many people are aware of regarding the movie rights of another popular children’s book series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
But before I begin, in case you may not know what I’m talking about, Percy Jackson and the Olympians surrounds the adventures of its titular hero, who one day learns that he is a demigod, a child of a god and a mortal, specifically a son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. This gives Percy the ability to manipulate water among other abilities, and after a series of events, he ends up at a camp for other demigods named Camp Half-Blood, where he learns how to use his abilities while going on a quest to stop the rise of the Titan lord Kronos.
Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? And author Rick Riordan didn’t stop there, eventually expanding Percy Jackson and the Olympians into an entire universe of world mythology called the Camp Half-Blood Chronicles. In fact, I think its safe to assume that Riordan has now become the one guy that comes to mind when the words “children’s books” and “mythology” run through your head. First came a separate series on Egyptian mythology named The Kane Chronicles, then a sequel series focusing on Roman mythology named The Heroes of Olympus. Riordan recently finished a Norse version in Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, and is currently writing a sequel series to The Heroes of Olympus in The Trials of Apollo. Accompanying these books is a series of companion graphic novels among other spin-off books, so it’s safe to assume that children’s literature’s preeminent depiction of mythology isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
At least, that is the case for print. Obviously when it was time for Percy Jackson and the Olympians to get the movie treatment the series had tons of potential on film. Sadly, Rick Riordan made two major mistakes.
First of all, he let Fox make the films. Fox. I would like to discuss some of the questionable moves Fox had made in the past when it came to some of their films, which made me hate them with a passion. This was so much the case that I swore on my life that none of my character rights that I have yet to reveal would go to Fox. I’m a huge Marvel fan, and some of you already know what I’m talking about. Their X-Men and Fantastic Four films are among their most infamous crimes, and I’d say X-Men is a perfect example of their “hit-and-miss” record with many of their franchises, while Fantastic Four is actually a pretty decent comparison to what ended up happening with the Percy Jackson franchise. Enter two lazily executed films: 2010’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and 2013’s Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, which upset quite a lot of people for basically sucking the life out of Riordan’s work. Sure, if you forget that these are adaptations of a fantastic book series, they work as generic action flicks. But are these the kinds of movies we really want to be made?
Studio executives are obsessed with finding “the next Harry Potter” the same way publishers are, and only Katniss Everdeen has come close (I refuse to acknowledge that wretched vampire). Yet I bet that, had they not cared about the competition as much as they cared about themselves and making good films, The Boy Who Lived could’ve possibly had way more decent box-office numbers stacked against him by now. The distinction between book and film performance is important: The Hunger Games doesn’t even rank among the bestselling book series of all time, compared to its box office performance. In the case of film, it’s not that the next Harry Potter hasn’t been created yet. It’s that these people can’t make a good movie, and usually (again, the vampire), that’s what audiences care to go see because that’s what they care about. In the right hands, Percy could very well hold a candle to Harry, yet Fox forced him to use his water to put that candle out. And like Fantastic Four, a third movie didn’t even happen, which goes to show.
So went three years of no comments from Riordan or Fox aside from unfulfilled promises of Percy Jackson: The Titan’s Curse from actor Logan Lerman, leaving fans confused and upset. During this time, it was quite unclear what was exactly going on with Fox as they hid their true evil motives for Percy from the public. But before they got exposed, a new rumor surfaced in October 2016, when it was revealed that there were plans to reboot the franchise in the form of a television series on the CW. Though it might have sounded better from a storytelling standpoint, it definitely seemed a little unorthodox for a property like Percy Jackson to get a TV show given the generally smaller budgets for TV projects. But the report stated that the CW had already set aside a $12 million budget for a 10-year deal, which would rank it among the most expensive television series ever made. That, in addition to having the same creative team on The Flash (with Riordan’s input this time, don’t worry, though I personally enjoy The Flash), it actually looked like it would work.
And that’s when Fox was exposed. In March 2017, Riordan finally took it upon himself to confess his second major mistake: he sold all the Percy Jackson rights (though not The Kane Chronicles and Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard), film and television, to Fox. You’d think that wouldn’t be a problem at first, but consider how Fox made the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot just to keep the rights from Marvel. Now, what do you think that means for Percy Jackson?
The rights for television/film to anything involving Percy’s world, including sequels like ‘Heroes of Olympus’ and ‘Trials of Apollo,’ are owned solely and forever by Fox. As far as I am aware, which is not very far, they have no plans to do anything further with those rights.
Not only that, but Riordan also stated that he did try to get the rights back in the years since Sea of Monsters. But Fox not only refused to give the rights back to him at any price, but they didn’t even want to give the rights to another company to make a film or TV reboot of their own.
Ah, you got to love film studios. Basically keeping rights for no reason, and Fox was the only studio I was ever aware of that did stuff like this! At least when Sony (yes, SONY!) rebooted Spider-Man, they wanted to make a movie, and is at least sharing the rights with Marvel. What was FOX? WHAT WAS THAT?
And that was why completely selling off his rights was Riordan’s second mistake: because you run the risk of the studio you completely sell to scamming you. I tell this story to my fellow aspiring writers at Parsons (after they remind me that the previous movies stunk). And now, I tell this to you if you are an aspiring writer, because I am trying to save fictional lives and the sanity of their creators: Whatever you do, DO NOT COMPLETELY SELL YOUR RIGHTS, and DON’T EVER COMPLETELY TRUST ANY STUDIO. Because the last thing you need, is to a) help contribute to the bad movies being made every year that could’ve been good, and b) try to apologize to the millions of fans that you just very badly upset by salvaging what you have left in a musical (though it might be good now as a result!)
Just look at the examples of creators that did it right, at FOX EVEN! Jean Schultz was very strict about how her husband’s rights would be used when it came time for The Peanuts Movie, and Fox ended up only having the rights to produce one film while Schultz’s family produced it. Jeff Kinney retained the rights to Diary of a Wimpy Kid when he got his big break for movies with Fox (yes, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul would’ve been a disaster at any studio).
So yeah, Percy joined the club with Mr. Fantastic and company after that, having a very insightful conversation about what exactly went wrong with their lives. We thought that this would be the end of such awesome characters: living under the shackles of Fox for eternity, and my heart went out to Riordan knowing just how hard he worked to get this far. Obviously he wouldn’t tweet out his tears, but trust me, he was upset. I know I would if I were him.
And that’s when the impossible happened.
Enter Mickey Mouse on His High Horse!
In November 2017, I was convinced that I entered a lucid dream of which I refuse to wake up from: it was reported that Fox was interested in selling its film division to Disney. Of course that meant the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises would now be back at Marvel, which Disney also brought in 2009, and I was basically not the same man I was before the announcement. Sure, there’s the whole claim of it being a monopoly, the concerns about jobs and the many other non-Marvel franchises that Disney would be getting, but even in articles I found that gave a comprehensive breakdown of every franchise Disney would now be getting, very few articles ever brought up Percy Jackson.
And now, allow me to add to that. Apparently, the reason for Fox’s sudden act of redemption was that they felt they couldn’t compete with the changing times. Apparently, TV is dying, and streaming is the new thing, and Disney wants to compete with Netflix by launching a streaming service in 2019. The problem was that before the Fox buyout, Disney didn’t have much of a diverse catalog of content even with their ownership of Marvel and Star Wars. With Fox’s properties, that now changes and levels the playing field with Netflix. Also, Fox apparently wanted to focus on news and sports by simply getting the hassle of an entire movie studio out of the way.
It was a weird new mentality for Fox for sure, given what I just said earlier about hogging rights the way they did. But you better believe I wasn’t complaining. There was still the possibility of some other studio buying Fox, but Disney was looking likely from the start of the announcement. And it did briefly become a bidding war between Comcast, Verizon and…well…Sony (yeah right, like they got the dough). But even if Fox did get sold to some other studio, anything was better than Fox for Percy, except maybe Sony, and the Marvel rights were going back to Marvel no matter what.
So aside from Sony, I didn’t really care who Fox got sold to. Because for the record, and you may not like me for this, so let me say in advance that I’ll explain, but I hate Disney with a passion. Sorry Disney fans, but Disney could sell me their whole company if they want to, but I just won’t partner with Disney on any film adaptations featuring my works. Here’s why:
- There’s a whole Wikipedia article about their crimes
- Disney Channel (Oops, Cheesy Girl Sitcom Channel) has ruined our girls
- Terrible treatment of their workers
- For a long time, Freeform was named ABC Family, even though the network was obviously a teen network. It turned out that former contracts prevented them from removing the word “Family”, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t move the teen content elsewhere before the name change.
- They ruined Marvel Animation and the awesome shows I grew up with
- Like they need me after the Fox buyout anyway. (By the way, as a Marvel fan I was convinced I had the devil on my hands here when the Fox buyout happened. “YOU KNOW YOU WANNA LOVE ME!” whispered the voice in my ear)
So when people say to me, “Hey, you’re drawing style is very animation-friendly, you should work for Disney!” I just make the fakest grin and causally say, “Yeah, sure, I’ll think about it!” But…c’mon. If you’re a Disney fan, I won’t stop you from being one, and I will still respect you. But I’m just making it clear to the fanbase I hope to get one day with my work, and trying to spread awareness.
So Disney brought them, and there went my mixed feelings of extreme joy and low-key hatred. And while my works won’t have any affiliation with Disney, Percy seeking solace at the Mouse House is almost kind of destiny, in a way.
Because guess who publishes Riordan’s works in the first place?
That’s right: Disney-Hyperion.
And about the Disney-Fox deal possibly being a monopoly: the deal is still being worked out for approval by the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division and should take anywhere between 12 to 18 months (December 2018 to June 2019) before any of its impact is seen on Hollywood. But here’s the thing: Fox was getting sold no matter what, and Disney and Fox wouldn’t have went through this deal if they didn’t think it was going to get approved.
Of course after it’s approved, it could take even more time for a Disney Percy Jackson reboot to happen, after the major Fox franchises are initially checked off. But you never know given Percy Jackson’s publisher. I’m sure the news of the deal made Riordan’s day, as Disney – for all their crimes – at least cares about making good films. Disney lets Kevin Feige do his thing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I’m almost certain that Riordan will finally be able to exercise his rightful creative freedoms this time around. After that, the possibilities are endless: remember, The Kane Chronicles and Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard still need their love. I’m sure there’s a reason why Riordan hasn’t touched those rights yet, because he was waiting for the right time, and this is it. A Riordan Cinematic Universe, anyone?
Ah, Disney. What are we going to do with you?