The Harlem Worldhoppers

Cosmere Adaptation Daydreaming

17 posts in this topic

Warning! Long post ahead!

So I know that there has been a bit of buzz recently surrounding the Dark One adaptation news so I figured this was an appropriate time to discuss possibilities down the road for Cosmere adaptations. Plenty of users on this site worry about the slim chances of a successful adaptation so let me provide you with some....

Reasons for optimism:

The movie industry follows trends where Hollywood execs get tunnel vision for certain genres. We've seen this with the vampire/zombie craze a while back and have seen it again with the super hero movie cash cow. I believe that high fantasy is the up and coming cash cow to be milked,and here's why:

If these adaptations experience success it will increase the confidence that DMG have in successfully adapting the Cosmere. Any project like this is a risk that requires a large investment to pull off and DMG would be more likely to shell out the money needed for high production quality movies if there were stronger precedent in place. Over the next few years we are going to witness the rise of high fantasy on the big screen.

Relevant WoB:

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Are you worried, because of the length of the Stormlight Archive books, that the movies will not be able to encompass them fully?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

What a well-stated way to say that... So, movies. Hollywood. Bless them, they try. No, seriously, like, there are a lot of really creative people who really are passionate about books in Hollywood, just none of them have any money? I'm exaggerating, strike that from the record. But we've sold the rights to people that we trust. Otherwise, we wouldn't sell them. It's always a gamble. We're never sure if it's gonna work. Like, even people who are really well-intentioned. The Golden Compass movie is a great example of this. Really good intentions. Everything about that movie should have worked: great actors, great design. And the movie was boring. And, it's like everybody tried really hard, and it just didn't work. And I know how that feels. I tried really hard on Apocalypse Guard, and it didn't work. And, so, yes, I am totally worried about that. But the thing about it is, if I don't risk that, then I can't ever have a good movie, 'cause I'll never have a movie.

Now, would we rather Stormlight be a television show? Probably. And I think the chances-- So, what I've been saying is, let's just hope that the other fantasy television shows do well. Let's hope the new Lord of the Rings one does really well. Let's hope that Pat Rothfuss's show goes really, really well. If a bunch of these things get made, and they're good, it improves our chances, and things like that. I've constantly said, I would rather a television show. But, you know, I wouldn't have thought that the Lord of the Rings films could be adapted as well as they were. And they worked. So, who knows. I'm willing to roll those dice, and see what we end up with.

source

 

What might a Cosmere timeline look like?

To gauge this it is insightful to look at the Game of Thrones production timeline. http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Production_timeline

Discussions for adapting the books began in 2005 and the first episode wasn't released until 2011. Subtract a year to account for the writers strike and you are looking at a >5 year timeframe. 

DMG purchased the Cosmere rights in October 2016 so I'd expect to see our first Cosmere production in late 2020 at the earliest.

 

Movie? Tv series? Release order?

Brandon has discussed the budget issues with making a tv series outside of big networks such as HBO, Netflix and Amazon, although this is his preferred storytelling medium. DMG are a movie corporation so we will see our first Cosmere adaptations as movies with the possibility of a tv series down the line. 

I think opening the Cosmere with Warbreaker would be the best choice as it is intro level Cosmere with a good story and great visuals. Some fairly straightforward visual effects could be used to show awakening and all of the sets are relatively low budget as these things go. Outside of a splurge on Nightblood special effects this could be a lower budget film that I feel would be well received. One issue I see with it is that it may be a little light on material for a full feature length film. This could be fixed by including content from the planned Warbreaker sequel and Nightblood book.

Elantris would be a good follow up book as another self-contained story with a magic system which could be shown similarly to some of Dr. Strange's magic.Emperor's Soul could make a good standalone mini-movie or could be included as an episode in a kind of cumulative Cosmere tv series.

Following up with a Mistborn movie trilogy would be the logical choice as the action scenes would translate beautifully to the big screen and the aesthetics of Luthadel would be fantastic. The magic system wouldn't require a high budget outside of some of the steelpushing/ironpulling. Some improvements could be made in regards to Book 2 but I could see the trilogy really taking off here with audiences loving Kelsier and picking up on Hoid cameos.

After receiving success from previous entries a larger budget and greater options would be available for the magnum opus, The Stormlight Archive. Considering SA is far from completed, it being produced at a later stage would do it some good. Additionally, the popularity of the Cosmere will have increased by now such that a potential high budget tv series would not be out of the question, and I feel like only a tv series would do Stormlight justice.

 

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This is great speculation! However, I think Mistborn is a safe bet for what they'd start with. It's easily his most mainstream and popular work, and probably has the most name recognition. It's what studios want in a opening film: built-in fanbase, name recognition, not overly complicated, standalone with immediate sequel potential, etc. Unfortunately, I don't see Elantris or Warbreaker getting picked up until: a) the Cosmere gets traction as a major cinematic universe, with a one or two successful releases, and b) Brandon releases his sequels.

I think with The Stormlight Archive, what I think would work best as an adaptation is each book as a mini-series of three 90-minute episodes. Despite a shorter running time, I think that would work better for the structure of the story then ten 45-minute episodes à la other big-budget television.

However, if you strip down each Stormlight book into major events, story beats, and character arcs, each one is relatively compact - dense and detailed, but straightforward. I think they could work as films without being completely squandered. Kaladin and Dalinar's stories in book 1 are great and cinematic, and complement each other. Although, I think Shallan's book 1 story is so brief and disconnected, it could be moved to the beginning of a more Shallan-centric Words of Radiance, and have Kaladin/Dalinar appear a bit later into the film.

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22 minutes ago, TruthlessofShinovar said:

This is great speculation! However, I think Mistborn is a safe bet for what they'd start with. It's easily his most mainstream and popular work, and probably has the most name recognition. It's what studios want in a opening film: built-in fanbase, name recognition, not overly complicated, standalone with immediate sequel potential, etc. Unfortunately, I don't see Elantris or Warbreaker getting picked up until: a) the Cosmere gets traction as a major cinematic universe, with a one or two successful releases, and b) Brandon releases his sequels.

I think with The Stormlight Archive, what I think would work best as an adaptation is each book as a mini-series of three 90-minute episodes. Despite a shorter running time, I think that would work better for the structure of the story then ten 45-minute episodes à la other big-budget television.

However, if you strip down each Stormlight book into major events, story beats, and character arcs, each one is relatively compact - dense and detailed, but straightforward. I think they could work as films without being completely squandered. Kaladin and Dalinar's stories in book 1 are great and cinematic, and complement each other. Although, I think Shallan's book 1 story is so brief and disconnected, it could be moved to the beginning of a more Shallan-centric Words of Radiance, and have Kaladin/Dalinar appear a bit later into the film.

Thanks for the feedback :). I actually agree that Mistborn would actually be most suitable as the Kickstarter for the Cosmere, I had Warbreaker first for (a) having a lower budget and (b) having the strongest ties to Stormlight Archive if they planned on producing that at an early stage as well.

According to Brandon DMG are interested in creating a Cosmere cinematic universe and Warbreaker is an important link in that universe. If I'm interpreting what you said about the mini-series being one episode/part of book then I agree. The parts or books within the book are structured well for an episode format.

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There are some Do's and Don'ts for adapting the Cosmere.

Do:

- Go with a disney-princessesque characteristic for one of the first movies. I would suggest Siri in Warbreaker. It would be a nice contrast with Vivenna and it worked wonders for Wonder Woman.

- If you start with Warbreaker, wait until Nightblood has been released, so you can make a duology and have Vasher disappear into the cognitive realm towards Roshar as the last scene. So you can tease Stormlight as the big thing on the horizon like Thanos in the MCU.

- Race- and genderbend some characters. I know controversial, but for example Mistborn is a mostly white, mostly dude cast, which Brandon admitted was an oversight. Diverse movies have mass appeal. If you want to be successful, you need to cast a net as wide as possible.

- Do turn the novellas ( except Edgedancer ) into a miniseries ( like 1,5 hours each ) after movies are done. Like "Tales from the cosmere". For example you could do the eleventh metal after Mistborn ( The final Empire) or the emperors soul after Elantris. This could also feature White Sand, Sixth of the Dusk and Shadows of Silence.

Don't:

- Don't dumb down the magic. Get it in your head, that audiences understand complex systems, if they are well enough explained.

- If you race and genderbend, don't turn this into a amn vs woman thing or have one gender or race be extremely capable, while everyone else fails. Wonder Woman worked great in that regard. Both Steve and Diana are powerfull and usefull for the plot in there own way.

 

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15 hours ago, Krios said:

There are some Do's and Don'ts for adapting the Cosmere.

Do:

- Go with a disney-princessesque characteristic for one of the first movies. I would suggest Siri in Warbreaker. It would be a nice contrast with Vivenna and it worked wonders for Wonder Woman.

- If you start with Warbreaker, wait until Nightblood has been released, so you can make a duology and have Vasher disappear into the cognitive realm towards Roshar as the last scene. So you can tease Stormlight as the big thing on the horizon like Thanos in the MCU.

- Race- and genderbend some characters. I know controversial, but for example Mistborn is a mostly white, mostly dude cast, which Brandon admitted was an oversight. Diverse movies have mass appeal. If you want to be successful, you need to cast a net as wide as possible.

- Do turn the novellas ( except Edgedancer ) into a miniseries ( like 1,5 hours each ) after movies are done. Like "Tales from the cosmere". For example you could do the eleventh metal after Mistborn ( The final Empire) or the emperors soul after Elantris. This could also feature White Sand, Sixth of the Dusk and Shadows of Silence.

Don't:

- Don't dumb down the magic. Get it in your head, that audiences understand complex systems, if they are well enough explained.

- If you race and genderbend, don't turn this into a amn vs woman thing or have one gender or race be extremely capable, while everyone else fails. Wonder Woman worked great in that regard. Both Steve and Diana are powerfull and usefull for the plot in there own way.

 

I agree with most of these points. DMG was attracted to Emperors Soul through the ethnically Chinese protagonist and they discovered the rest of the Cosmere along the way. Rosharans are ethnically Asian/Arabic and DMG apparently feels that these races are underrepresented in Hollywood so a complete whitewashing of Stormlight Archive would be unlikely. That being said, movies and tv shows get the spotlight when they have an A-List actor cast in a role and most big name actors are white so there could be a compromise there for marketing reasons.

As for the magic systems, I feel like the nuanced attention to detail and set of rules within the systems is what makes them special so dumbing them down would be a huge misstep. Some magic systems such as awakening would be low budget while showing something like the Szeth vs Kaladin fight (which I imagine as being similar to Superman vs Zod in Man of Steel) would be extremely expensive. Given this fact, starting off with lower budget, smaller scale Cosmere works is probably the smartest move.

Brandon probably already has outlines and detailed notes in place for Warbreaker 2 and Nightblood and with these movies coming in at least a few years I'm sure some of the content from those books could be shifted into the main Warbreaker storyline

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Some very interesting ideas in this thread.  Some awesome Sharders even wrote out a movie outline for Way of Kings.  

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One thing I forgot about in my first post. Contract your people right! You dont want to swap out the actor for Kelsier or even Hoid midwaythrough the cosmere movies.

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I just finished re-reading Elantris recently and thought it actually could be a great entry point to a cosmere movie series. The magic is incredibly visual (like others mentioned similar to Dr Strange) and I think it has a really good cast of characters. Mistborn is definitely more popular it seems but half the magic is not as visual. Although I would be interested to see how it turns out regardless of where they start. I think Brandon has done a pretty good job of having a diverse cast of characters. So I don't think too much switching would have to be done in the interest of diversity. I'd be fine with it going either way.  

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If we're talking about a starting point for the Cosmere Cinematic Universe, I think it's useful to note that Marvel started with Iron Man, the first in what would become a trilogy. Tony was also a primary focal character in Avengers, Age of Ultron, and Infinity War. For the past 10 years, Tony has been the spine of the MCU, and the fans have loved it.

The success of the MCU Format has become something to be emulated, a fact that DC is already demonstrating. Like it or not, the Cosmere Cinematic Universe is gonna walk in some of the same lanes as the MCU, and that "spine" is central to it. Consider what the spine of the Cosmere would be. Mistborn and Stormlight are the only contenders for that title right now.


I personally think it'd be best to start the Cosmere with a story that can stand on its own and be expanded upon later if the movie takes off. Prime examples being Elantris, Warbreaker, and The Final Empire.

Warbreaker would be the simplest of the three to do: Simple Story, Small Cast, Earth-like World, Awakening Circa 1940, Zombie effects/makeup is a dime a dozen, etc...

Mistborn already has available sequels if the audience loves it(not to mention more popularity as a book), but it's likely the toughest of the three to do. Color-shifted sky and plant-life, the Mist, the least visual of the magics as Philomath points out, among other things.

Elantris is kinda in the middle in most categories, like Story Complexity and Cast Size. Problem with "visual" magic is the special effects budget, and the added shadow detailing since Aons glow.

In the end, I think Mistborn will win out due to preexisting popularity, but being the easiest on the budget is still a massive point in Warbreaker's favor.

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I've already posted  my thoughts on this on a specifically SA topic, but I personally would prefer that the actors chosen can really play the characters well, rather than being an ethnic or visual match for the characters. For example, Kaladin's actor should be able to play the part of Kaladin first, rather than going on a Visual standpoint for casting him. If the stars align, and the person who can play Kaladin also happens to look an ethnic or visual match, then great. 

Mistborn has a great chance of being a good film, the premise of TFE is basically Ocean's Eleven mixed with LOTR- both incredibly popular films- and I feel that some of the more martial arts-inspired fight scenes could work really well in a visual medium.

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@Wyndlerunner I agree, that they have to hire great actors, but Hollywood has a tendency to cast only white people, if they arent specifically forced to look for actors of other ethnicities. Although this is changing, but slowly. And that Stormlight characters don't completly correspond to real ethnicities seems to be a bit to complex for news shows, who would probably just report the whitewashing. And I would hate to see cosmere be bogged down by this.

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On 6/24/2018 at 3:18 AM, Krios said:

@Wyndlerunner I agree, that they have to hire great actors, but Hollywood has a tendency to cast only white people, if they arent specifically forced to look for actors of other ethnicities. Although this is changing, but slowly. And that Stormlight characters don't completly correspond to real ethnicities seems to be a bit to complex for news shows, who would probably just report the whitewashing. And I would hate to see cosmere be bogged down by this.

While I agree with your comments on Hollywood tending to whitewash stuff, and not wanting our beloved cosmere to get bogged down by that, I don't want the ethnicity of the characters to keep them from an actor who can really nail the unique, complicated characters that make Brandon's works and worlds feel alive.

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Honestly. I'd like a high quality animated series on NETFLIX or somewhere that can front a budget. Maybe even a high quality CGI series. 

I want every character design authorised by Brandon xD

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How hard can it be to makeup actors to fit Rosharan ethnicities though? Hair dye certainly isn't going to be too much of a problem, and though I don't have experience with it myself I have trouble believing it's not possible to fake epicanthric or whatever it's called folds.

Edited by Leyrann
said "characters" instead of "actors"
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2 hours ago, Leyrann said:

How hard can it be to makeup actors to fit Rosharan ethnicities though? Hair dye certainly isn't going to be too much of a problem, and though I don't have experience with it myself I have trouble believing it's not possible to fake epicanthric or whatever it's called folds.

I can imagine this being really controversial though. Kinda like blackface. Contact lenses can obviously be used for eye colour so that's no issue. I wouldn't really care if they got a white actor to play someone like Dalinar as you need a marquee actor playing that kind of role to attract an audience, kind of like how Sean Bean attracted people to game of thrones. Most big name actors are white so they would probably have to whitewash characters a bit.

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Just now, The Harlem Worldhoppers said:

I can imagine this being really controversial though. Kinda like blackface. Contact lenses can obviously be used for eye colour so that's no issue. I wouldn't really care if they got a white actor to play someone like Dalinar as you need a marquee actor playing that kind of role to attract an audience, kind of like how Sean Bean attracted people to game of thrones. Most big name actors are white so they would probably have to whitewash characters a bit.

Put a disclaimer at the start: If you disagree with actor choices, keep your **** mouth shut unless you know a better alternative for the role.

(yes I know it doesn't work like that)

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15 minutes ago, Leyrann said:

Put a disclaimer at the start: If you disagree with actor choices, keep your **** mouth shut unless you know a better alternative for the role.

(yes I know it doesn't work like that)

If only it did, things would be much simpler...

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