EXCLUSIVE: A24 and Oscar-nominated producer Jennifer Fox (Nightcrawler, Michael Clayton) are teaming to develop Ursula Le Guin's acclaimed Earthsea fantasy books for television. A24 is the studio and will finance the series project, which will be shopped to networks soon. Fox is producing.
Fox originally optioned the book series last year. Before she died in January 2018, Le Guin had given the producer her blessing to turn her work into a series of films. The adaptation since has been re-envisioned as a television series. An Earthsea miniseries based on the book series, with the teleplay co-written by Le Guin, aired on Sci Fi Channel in 2004.
The Earthsea books are an introspective fantasy series that Le Guin began in 1968 with the publication of Book 1, A Wizard of Earthsea, and finished in 2017, with the final short story "Firelight" published in 2018 in The Paris Review.
The book series, which has drawn comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings saga, is composed of five novels and eight short stories set in a fantasy archipelago of hundreds of islands, imperiled by those who use magic to gain power and upset its delicate balance. Most of its characters are people of color, and the emphasis is on understanding nature and human nature, not possessing power over them.
"Ursula Le Guin is a literary legend with a huge fan base and her work has been translated into practically every written language on the globe," said Fox. "She is second only to Tolkien in influence in this genre, and before she died last year, she agreed to put her most beloved work in my hands. This project is, therefore, a sacred trust and priority for me as well as an opportunity to create an iconic piece of American culture."
Fox is the producer behind the Oscar-nominated 2007 legal thriller Michael Clayton and Nightcrawler. Her other producing credits include the Denzel Washington starrer Roman J. Israel, Esq, and The Bourne Legacy. Fox also is a producer on The Report, written and directed by Scott Z. Burns and produced by Steven Soderbergh, which Amazon releases in November.
"Ursula long hoped to see an adaptation of Earthsea that represented a collaboration between her ideas and words and the visual storytelling of others," said the author's son, Theo Downes-Le Guin. "I feel very fortunate that, with Jennifer Fox and A24, we have a bedrock of producing and development experience that can bring the sweeping narrative and moral truths of my mother's work to screen."