Movies & TV

Percy Jackson Is (Finally) Getting the TV Series Adaptation It Deserves

Camp Half-Blood, here we come.
IMAGE 20th Century Fox
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Listen up, half-bloods. The Percy Jackson live-action Disney+ series is taking shape and the latest update is giving us hope that these beloved adventure books will finally get the screen adaptation they deserve. According to Rick Riordan, childhood author to an entire generation, “Everyone who has read the pilot script loves it, but there will be a few additional tweaks. Everyone is committed to making this the best show we possibly can.” Looks like the big wigs at the Mouse House approve.

Set in a world where ancient gods still exist, Percy Jackson & The Olympians follows the adventures of Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, and Grover Underwood as they try to survive the tempers of Greek gods, mythical monsters, and puberty all at the same time. Knowing Disney’s fantastical reputation, this sort of world-building is right up its alley.

Why is this a big deal?

Percy Jackson could very well compete with Harry Potter as one of the top children’s fantasy book series of all time. But unlike the Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson & the Olympians (PJO) series wasn’t adapted so successfully to the big screen. The film adaptations are a thorn in the side for both Riordan and his many fans who were all appalled by the short-lived two-film series that failed to capture the magic and adventure of the book series.

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One main reason the films crashed and burned? They kept Riordan out of the decision-making room, which was a dumb move that made it clear from the start that the films were less about realizing the childhood books of millions of readers—and more about making money.

In short, the film series was a flop, so Riordan decided to take matters into his own hands by knocking on Disney’s door in hopes of finally getting an adaptation worthy of Camp Half-Blood. And so far, so good. Disney is definitely a more appropriate partner than the big film studios that took control of the film series. With Disney producing and with Riordan advising, Percy Jackson fans finally have hope.

Remember, this is the platform that gave us The Mandalorian and WandaVision on Disney+.

It’s been 15 years since the first book was released and introduced an entire generation of kids to the adventures of literature. It’s been touted as being notably modern and relatable, tackling issues like ADHD, dyslexia, broken families, and absentee parents in a way children would understand. Those kids are now adults, some are even having kids of their own, but the love of all things Percy still remains and we’re crossing our fingers that the PJO series finally gets a worthy screen adaptation.

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How will the series play out?

The way we see it, the PJO TV series will likely cover the plot of one book in one season, in the same way as Game of Thrones, The Witcher, and other book-to-TV adaptations. The book series is comprised of five books: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian. With Riordan having an active role in the adaptation, there’s a good chance that the show will appeal to a younger audience as his books intended. The film series opted to bump up the characters’ ages in hopes of attracting more viewers, but it was one of the biggest sins of the filmmakers in Riordan’s eyes. The world of PJO was meant for kids, not adults, and with a TV series, they could introduce a new generation to Camp Half-Blood.

Who will they cast?

At the start of the series, Percy is 12 years old, and similar to the Harry Potter series, each book follows his adventures as he gets older. If they plan to do the series right this time, they’ll probably start with a young cast that we’ll see grow up with each season, similar to how we saw Sansa, Bran, and Arya grow up in GOT.

Meanwhile, fans are already pushing for the original cast of the film series to be included in the show, this time as the godly parents of their original characters. While fans hated the films, the consensus is they got the right cast but at the wrong time. There’s a push to have Alexandra Daddario, who played Annabeth Chase, be cast as her mother, Athena. And an even louder call to cast Logan Lerman, who played Percy Jackson, as his father, Poseidon. Lerman has in fact already expressed his willingness to take on that role, to the great relief of PJO fans.

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What else does Riordan have in the works?

Since The Lightning Thief, Riordan has expanded his fictional universe to publish four other book series: The Heroes of Olympus series and The Trials of Apollo series, which are both inspired by Greek mythology; the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, which covers Norse mythology; and The Kane Chronicles, which leans heavily on Egyptian mythology. The trilogy Kane just got the green light from Netflix to be adapted into a film series.

Riordan is also part of a Disney Publishing imprint series called Rick Riordan Presents, which introduces young audiences to a wide array of mythology-inspired children’s books. There’s the Pandava Quintet by Roshani Chokshi, which covers Hindu Mythology; Dragon Pearl Series by Yoon ha Lee, which is inspired by Korean mythology; and many more series that explore everything from Caribbean mythology to the ancient Mayans.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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