ridley scott

Ridley Scott recently turned 80 and this may be the busiest he’s ever been. After a year that saw him releasing two feature films, Alien: Covenant and All the Money in the World, the latter of which he massively retooled with a new star in just nine days, Scott is not slowing down any time soon.

Disney is courting Scott to helm the studio’s adaptation of The Merlin Saga, which follows the legendary wizard as a young man before he becomes mentor to King Arthur. It’s one of two Camelot-related projects that Disney is developing, including a Sword in the Stone remake which, surprise, Scott also met with executives to discuss.

The Merlin Saga is based on T.A. Barron’s series of books which I’m just now realizing that I used to read passionately. The 12-book series first began in 1996 with Merlin Book 1: The Lost Years, and follows Merlin all the way from childhood to adulthood, and is perhaps one of the most ambitious pieces of high fantasy world-building I’ve read in a YA book. The series is loosely based on the Arthurian legends, but includes a wide array of confusing characters plucked from the legends as well as some incredibly complex (and slightly confusing) world-building. I dropped the series after the first three books, but Barron continued to publish the series until the final and 12th book in 2011.

According to Variety, Scott is in talks to direct the Disney adaptation of The Merlin Saga, which seems like a nice compromise between Scott’s own visionary ambitions and Disney’s family-friendly mission. Philippa Boyens is set to pen the script, while Scott’s production company Scott Free is also in negotiations to produce along with Gil Netter.

This would be the first time that the Merlin Saga would be adapted to the screen, though not the first time a young, sexy Merlin was introduced to audiences. BBC produced a highly popular series titled Merlin in 2008 that followed a young Merlin played by Colin Morgan — though it also played fast and loose with Arthurian legend, depicting Arthur, Guinevere, and Morgana as his similarly-aged best friends — and a 1998 NBC miniseries Merlin starred a very dreamy Sam Neill.

This is Disney’s opportunity to get into the dying YA fantasy market, or at least bring it back to life. And with Scott at the helm, it has the prestige of an ambitious and lauded director who still has Hollywood reeling over his replacement of Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World. With Scott’s frequent studio collaborator 2oth Century Fox (which owns the Alien franchise) soon coming under the dominion of Disney, the Merlin Saga may already have Scott in the bag.

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