Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had the biggest opening weekend of any movie in box office history. Which means that Hollywood is going to be twice as desperate to find a new Potter-style addictive fantasy series.
Fantasy books are full of long, immersive series — it's one of the things fantasy does best. But where are the series that could occupy the Hollywood throne that King Harry just vacated? Here are 10 possibilities.
We asked io9's Facebook followers to suggest some fantasy book series that could live up to the awesome artistic and commercial success of the Potter films, and here's what you suggested. Including one project that's already in the pipeline...
1) Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. Fritz Leiber's mismatched sword-and-sorcery heroes and their crazy-pants adventures in the land of Nehwon have thrilled fantasy fans since 1936! They're the two greatest swordsmen in any universe. Fafhrd is a great barbarian who has turned his back on his people, and the Grey Mouser is the former apprentice to a dead wizard. There's a pretty great rundown of the series here. (Thanks Scott and Marcus!)
2) Earthsea. "You know, done properly — not whitewashed and sucky," says Sofia, referring to the disastrous Syfy adaptation among other failed versions. But if someone ever manages to do the Earthsea books right, then you could have a classic — and super-popular — movie series on your hands. Like the Harry Potter series, the books start with a young wizard learning his trade — and like the Potter stories, they get a lot more adult and complicated as they go along. But even the first book is full of darkness and strangeness, as Ged copes with the consequences of his own arrogance. By the time you get to the last book, and we're dealing with the consequences of tampering with the afterlife itself, you've got one of the most compelling sagas of all time. Maybe Bill Condon could adapt these books as a palate-cleanser after adapting Twilight: Breaking Dawn. I bet a Bill Condon Earthsea series would actually rule.
3) Dragonriders of Pern "Dragonriders of Pern would make an awesome movie series, if done right," says Leah. You'd definitely need a deft touch to handle the whole "dragonriders mate when their dragons do" scenario. Arguably this series is science fiction, not fantasy — but it does have dragons, and thus could appeal to people who loved Avatar. Anyway, this series takes place on a planet where people have a quasi-Medieval culture alongsider genetically engineered dragons, and even though there's no word for "war" in Pernese, there are still some pernicious (sorry!) problems. Anyway, the idea of people being bonded with their dragons for life is a brilliantly escapist fantasy, that could burn up the movie screen. (Thanks Leah, Jim, Daeve, Alan, Ruth, Josh and Joe!)
4) The Dark Tower Series Sadly, Universal just decided to pull the plug on this series of movies (and accompanying television miniseries) based on Stephen King's novels. But that doesn't change the fact that a run of Dark Tower movies would be absolute gold. Drawing on a set of influences as wide as Robert Browning's poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," Westerns and post-apocalyptic science fiction, this series tells a sweeping story of a world that seems to be falling apart around Roland, who searches for the Dark Tower that bridges realities. It could be the movie epic that makes Harry Potter look like a drawing-room farce. (Thanks Amanda, Holly, Hege, Daeve, Jon, Erik, Joseph, Heather and Anjana!)
5) Artemis Fowl "Better than Potter, and [endowed] with a brilliant sense of humor," says Grace. "Fowl is about a 12 year old criminal mastermind exploting kick-ass fairies. The series is almost complete, and actually tackles science pretty well, with pretty smart ideas on time travel." Artemis, the criminal mastermind, has a rivalry with the fairy hot-shot Holly Sharp, which slowly morphs, over the course of six books, into a unique friendship. There are ludicrously awesome plots and ridiculous humor. These books have drawn a huge global audience, an important prerequisite for a film series nowadays. (Thanks Grace, Nikolaus, Frédéric and Mary!)
6) Jeff Smith's BONE series As Jim points out, this series "has quietly sold hundreds of thousands of copies in schools and comic shops." This is one of the most unique comic series of the past couple decades, and it's become something of an institution. Smith has already gotten a documentary (see trailer at left) but an actual movie adaptation is overdue. The saga of the Bone cousins traveling to the valley, braving the terrible rat creatures, and then questing to save the valley from the Lord of the Locusts would make a terrific set of movies.
7) The Dresden Files Opinions seem to differ pretty widely about whether the television of Jim Butcher's popular book series did it justice or not — but it scarcely matters. Lots of people seem to be eager for a faithful movie adaptation, which actually uses the plots from the books instead of just using them as a jumping-off point. There are lots of books about magical detectives and supernatural tough guys, but Harry Dresden might well be the most popular wizard P.I. being published currently. And there's tons of material in the dozen Dresden books to support a movie series, including some horrifying monsters, dark magic, and "women who kick ass." (Thanks Jeremy, Elaine, Travis, Dave, Bill, John, Janet, Hayley and Crystal!)
8) Discworld Yes, there have been various adaptations, mostly for television, and an Unseen Academicals film is reportedly in the pipeline along with a new police procedural show. But a lot of people believe that Discworld could also support a lavish film series — and having recently read the Tiffany Aching books, I'd be a strong supporter of an Aching film series. At one point, Sam Raimi was reportedly in line to adapt The Wee Free Men as a movie, but sadly he moved on to a much less interesting Wizard of Oz prequel. I actually think the story of Tiffany learning to be a witch, and confronting the lack of glamor in a witch's existence, would be a fantastic movie, and then sequels could expand outwards into the rest of Discworld. (Thanks Alan, Angel and Gordon!)
9) Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber As Rajan Khanna writes at Tor.com, this ten-book series has everything:
Witty, charming, and delightfully unreliable first person narrator? Check. Near-immortal beings? Check. Travel between worlds? Check. Dysfunctional families and the resulting politics of such? Check. And yet it was so much more than this laundry list of items.
In this series, Amber is the true world, and everything else, including Earth, is just a shadow of it. When Corwin finds himself on the shadow Earth, with amnesia, he must figure out the rules of the deadly game before it's too late. There are huge twists and turns, machiavellian plotting, and complex storylines, especially in the first five books. (Thanks Alan, Vic, Doug, Bill, Sharon, Nathaniel, Darius, Mike and David!)
10) Dragonlance. "Do Chronicles, then follow it with Legends," Christopher advises. "Six movies right there." This shared-world setting has spawned tons of novels, but the main ones are the work of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, for TSR and Random House. The Chronicles follow a group of friends who quest to become Heroes of the Lance, freeing slaves and fighting dragons along the way. The Legends trilogy follows a pair of twins, Caramon Majere and Raistlin Majere, and their troubled relationship, spanning over a hundred years including a world-shaking Cataclysm. It would take a ton of ambition to turn these six books into a movie series, but if someone could pull it off, it could be amazing. (Thanks Christopher, Lee, Justin, Faheem, and Callie!)