EXCLUSIVE: Legion M has acquired Brian Staveley’s bestselling fantasy epic The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne and brought Weta Workshop aboard to begin the visual concept work for a one-hour fantasy drama series that will share the title of the bookshelf trilogy’s first entry: The Emperor’s Blades.
The fan-owned Legion M plans to shop The Emperor’s Blades in early 2020 and join the Hollywood derby of sword-and-sorcery properties that yearn to be the rightful heir to The Game of Thrones and it’s historic international success.
The project is imports expertise from Middle-earth with Executive Producer Rick Porras Forrest Gump, Contact, co-producer and second-unit director for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Also Executive Producing: Legion M’s Terri Lubaroff and David Baxter along with writer/producer Robbie Silverman.
Also from Middle-earth: Weta Workshop is on board to create concept artwork for The Emperor's Blades and continue contributing throughout production. The award-winning New Zealand outfit is renowned as the visual wizards whose work brought green glory to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises, as well as Avatar and scores of other major spectacle successes.
The acquisition is a major moment for Legion M, whose portfolio to date includes the recent documentary Memory: The Origins of Alien, the acclaimed cult hit Mandy, and the genre-celebrating effort Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.
Legion M plans to develop The Emperor's Bladesas a multi-pronged brand with merchandise and comic books in the same vein as the company's first published comic book Girl With No Name, which is simultaneously being developed as a feature film.
The company was preparing Monday morning to announce the “get” to its fan community of 100,000. Terri Lubaroff, Legion M COO and head of content said the company’s fan community is a powerful resource.
“Bringing the robust universe of The Emperor's Blades to a fan-owned entertainment company like Legion M means harnessing the power of the crowd in unique and disruptive ways,” Lubaroff said. “The idea of 'fans first' will be at the forefront of our process, as we provide the Legion with opportunities to participate in our journey from books to a television series, a comic book, merchandise, and beyond. We're thrilled to be working with Brian Staveley and our entire team, and feel that Brian is just getting started on building a world that will have a long-lasting impact on generations of fantasy readers.”
The International bestseller has been translated into 12 languages A synopsis from Legion M: “In The Emperor's Blades, Valyn, Kaden and Adare, the three adult children of the recently assassinated Annurian Emperor, have not seen each other for ten years. Valyn is an officer in the Kettral, an elite military force that flies covert missions on giant hawks. Kaden, heir to the throne, trains with the Shin monks high in the Bone Mountains to achieve an emotionless Zen state of mind - a mysterious prerequisite to becoming an Annurian Emperor, while Adare remains in the Dawn Palace. Now a high minister, she deftly navigates the Machiavellian politics of the empire. With the murder of their father, the siblings are plunged into a deep conspiracy that threatens the empire to its core, puts their lives at risk, and may spell the doom of all humanity if they can't work together to stop an ancient enemy.”
The creative mind behind the fantasy epic said he is thrilled to see it come to life under the Legion M banner.
“When I first met with Legion M, it was obvious that they were the right home for The Emperor's Bladesbecause they immediately understood my vision for the world as a series, and of equal importance, they get the novels' fandom,” said Staveley, author of The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Trilogy. “I couldn't be more excited about bringing The Emperor's Blades to television and expanding its world with a talented team of creatives.”
David Baxter, VP of development at Legion M, sees The Emperor's Blades as fertile ground for a rich multi-tiered IP.
“Brian Staveley's fast-paced and thoroughly modern take on high fantasy is absolutely unique and impossible to put down. I couldn't be more excited by the vast possibilities for dramatic storytelling presented by Staveley's world of Annur. Working with Rick and Weta's Richard Taylor and his team has been awe-inspiring. They collectively understand the DNA of fantasy world-building better than anyone, having helped realize with Peter Jackson the most successful fantasy franchise of all time.”
Porras added: “Since The Lord of the Rings, I've read numerous fantasy books that were always derivative and felt dusty. The Emperor's Blades, on the other hand, was clearly written by a 21st century writer. It feels modern which is very cool for fantasy. And, like The Lord of the Rings, The Emperor's Blades has both great scope and great intimacy, with characters we want to keep cutting back to.”
Silverman chimed in:“I'm a huge fantasy nerd who's read everything. When I started reading The Emperor's Bladesas a fan, I knew immediately that it was something special. The world Brian created is something I haven't seen before, and it has a fascinating blend of Asian and Western cultures that instantly drew me in.”
Legion M is billed as the world's “first fan-owned entertainment company,” brings together more than 100,000 fans from around the world, including more than 25,000 fan investors. The company has used the equity crowdfunding laws enabled by the federal Jumpstart Our Business Startups JOBS Act to entice fans with a buy-in opportunity to invest directly in an early-stage entertainment company in the genre sector that is a primary focus of Hollywood.
Below, a look at the full image for The Emperor’s Blades.
Universal has picked up the film rights to New York Times bestselling author Tracy Wolff’s upcoming YA vampire novel Crave.
Crave, billed as a paranormal fantasy with a feminist perspective, follows a human girl who finds herself in the midst of a conflict between warring factions when she falls for a vampire prince, Jaxon Vega. He’s a vampire with deadly secrets who hasn't felt anything for a hundred years. But there's something about him that calls to her, something broken in him that somehow fits with what's broken in her - which could spell death for both of them. The young girl learns that Jaxon has walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake him, a sleeping monster, and she could very well be the bait. The book is available for sale tomorrow, April 7 from Entangled Publishing, distributed by Macmillan in New York.
Wolff is the bestselling author of 64 novels that run the gamut of commercial fiction. She’s a former English professor who now writes full-time from her home in Austin, Texas.
Universal's SVP of Production Jeyun Munford and Creative Executive Christine Sun will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.
Wolff is represented by Emily Sylvan Kim of The Prospect Agency. The deal was negotiated by Nicole Resciniti, The Alliance Rights Agency, and Debbie Deuble Hill at APA.