Hollywood Buys Terry Brooks’s Shannara Series


us-elfstonesI have been Terry’s webmaster for 16 years.

In that time, thousands and thousands of fans have written into the website asking questions. The question most often asked, however, is, “When will Terry’s books be adapted into movies?”

Hollywood has been interested in Terry’s work for a long time. He has sold rights to various studios over the years but nothing has been greenlit into production. Currently, Warner Bros. holds the rights to the Landover books with Steve Carell attached to play Ben Holiday but we have new news to report about Shannara!

Here is the official press release:

Sonar Entertainment has acquired the rights to author Terry Brooks’ bestselling fantasy series “Shannara” and is partnering with Farah Films to produce a television series based on the books.

Farah Films principal Dan Farah and Sonar Entertainment CEO Stewart Till will exec produce with Brooks. Producers plan to recruit a showrunner and director before they shop the project to network buyers.

Set hundreds of years after the destruction of our civilization, series follows the Shannara family, who are empowered with ancient magic and whose adventures continuously reshape the future of the world. The plan is to base the show’s first season on “The Elfstones of Shannara,” the second book in the series.

The 20th bestselling book in the 25-year-old series has just premiered at No. 2 on the New York Times Bestsellers list. Two more books in the series are set to be published in 2013.

“Partnering with Sonar Entertainment and Farah Films on adapting the ‘Shannara’ saga for television is an exciting prospect,” said Brooks, who is repped by Anne Sibbald of Janklow and Nesbit Associates. “Everything about both companies suggests the result will be one that both old and new fans of the books will readily embrace. I am committed to doing everything I can to help make this happen.”

“Terry has created a rich world of characters and stories that have entertained millions of readers all around the world for a quarter of a century,” Farah said. “He has a built-in fanbase that is bigger than those for even the most recent hit book series, like ‘The Hunger Games.’ We’re very excited and proud to have the opportunity to partner with Terry in adapting his great work for the smallscreen.”

“Terry Brooks appeals to a huge and diverse cross-section of audiences throughout the world,” Till added. “There is an enormous desire to see ‘Shannara’ brought to life for television. We know this is going to be a terrific series that will both delight longtime fans and attract legions of new devotees.”

As a producer, Farah is currently developing a remake of “The Crow” at Relativity and an adaptation of Ernie Cline’s bestselling novel “Ready Player One” at Warner Bros., as well as an upcoming stage musical based on the Castle Rock comedy “Honeymoon in Vegas.” He’s also developing a sitcom for Tony Danza, “The Guys,” for ABC and ABC Studios.

There you have it. The Elfstones of Shannara is being looked at for a television series ala Game of Thrones. I have to stress that while the rights have sold it doesn’t mean the adaptation is moving into production. Terry has high hopes it will given the enthusiasm at Sonar Entertainment but this is a first step—an important step. The next step is to find a writer for the project as well as a director. With those two pieces in place, a pilot will be created that will be shown to various networks.

Imagine the first episode and what it could be: The Chosen. The Ellcrys. The tree is dying. The three demons return to the Four Lands from their prison and want to ensure no rebirth can take place. The Dagda Mor is aware of the Druid. And a last scene depicting Allanon arriving in Arborlon. Or perhaps the last scene of the Chosen massacred…

So many possibilities. And if one of those television networks is interested, we’ll get our adaptation!

There are some great things about this. In this situation, Terry is a partner, given a level of creative control that assures any adaptation is done to his vision. We also have Game of Thrones on our side. The show has been wildly popular in the episodic television format and we hope other networks might be interested in Shannara for the same reasons Thrones works. Not to mention giving eight or ten episodes to tell the grandness of Elfstones will ensure a faithful adaptation of one of the masterpieces of fantasy literature.

Terry also feels Elfstones is the right place to start. Sword mimics LOTR for the first third of the book whereas Elfstones is originally riveting from the start and also has the strong female characters Sword entirely lacks. If this gets greenlit into production and becomes a hit, the next likely place for Season 2 would be The Wishsong of Shannara.

More on this when Terry returns to Seattle in a week. I plan on interviewing him extensively about it. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed!

In the meantime, what do you think about this? And what questions would you like me to ask Terry? Post them below!

More news when we have it!

  • Gene

    I’ll admit, I’ve only seen the firs 6 episodes of Thrones, and it’s ok, But it’s not really in the same….scale as Shannara. Elfstones has Elves, trolls, and literally hordes of demons, and great deal of magic to mix things up. Stee Jans and the Legion playing rabbit with the Demon horde would be a tough scene to shoot. I just don’t see doing Elfstones on the same type of budget that Thrones has. A Shannara story would be very effects heavy, and therefore very expensive. I’d really, really like to see a live action adaption of a Shannara story, but I’ve got some reservations about it getting the ‘Game of Thrones’ treatment. I’d really hate for the massive battle scenes to happen off camera. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed 🙂

  • Kevin B

    Good luck with that whole thing.

  • Bethany C.

    Shannara is way better than Game of Thrones (in my humble opinion.) I bet its show would be better, too. I hope this happens!

  • I just hope they stay true to the books… If they do, it will make for a truly epic set of movies 🙂

  • Scott

    Wait, what, Steve Carell attached to play Ben Holiday for Landover? What were they doing, trying to think up inappropriate casting choices?

  • Scott, if you’ve seen Carell’s dramatic roles, you’ll know he’s perfect for Ben Holiday. Terry loves the choice. Ben Holiday is a semi-dark character at the beginning of the series, very serious, and Carell’s dramatic roles match that. Don’t let his comedy work fool you. The man can act drama when needed.

  • I’m with Shawn. Carell is very talented, and I have no doubt that he’s up to whatever they need him to be.

  • Al H

    I just hope this actually gets done. I have seen this before, optioned for something and then it never gets done. I for one am excited to see Terry’s works get done on either the big screen or small screen.

    Legend of the Seeker (that really was nothing like the books) was decent but could have been better. I love Game of Thrones. It has been an amazing show, I watch it, PVR it and watch it again. I would love to see Shannara on HBO or something to that effect instead of the regular networks where I don’t think it would get done properly. I for one want to see more Fantasy based shows.

    And I think Steve Carell is a great choice to play Ben Holiday!

  • Jesse

    From a viewer and readers point of view, there is a fine line as to how to produce a book turned movie/tv show. To Al H’s point, The Sword of Truth is one of my favorite medieval magic science fiction series of all time. I was excited for the tv adaptation because each of the 12 books are 600+ pages and would be difficult to capture in a 3 hour movie. I watched the first couple episodes and quit. The adaptation was so loosely based they lost the reader viewers who made up the largest portion of viewers for a show like this.

    Don’t get me wrong, there is little reason to produce an exact replication of a book. There has to be some creative control by the Director. That said, if the show strays too far away from the book, there is no reason to put a “Based on Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks” statement at the opening of the show.

    I’ve read all of these books and am excited to see how well they are turned into a tv show. Of course they would turn out better if I was cast as Allanon 🙂