'The Raven Cycle,' 'Sand' Adaptations in the Works at Syfy From Universal Cable

'Twilight' director Catherine Hardwicke, 'World War Z' helmer Marc Forster and Dan Harmon are just some of the names attached to the studio's latest genre slate.
Courtesy Photo

As Comic-Con 2017 prepares to kick off, Universal Cable Productions is unveiling its latest genre development slate.

Among the projects in the works include adaptations of the YA New York Times best-seller The Raven Cycle, and Hugh Howey’s iconic post-apocalyptic novel series Sand, both set up at Syfy.

The cable studio is also teaming with Community creator Dan Harmon on a drama titled Sirens of Titans, and is working on an adaptation of the sci-fi fantasy novel Lord of the Light with The Walking Dead producer Gale Anne Hurd.

The Raven Cycle tells the story of 17-year-old Blue Sargent, who becomes involved with a group of four privileged private-school boys on a quest to find a source of mythical and mysterious power hidden deep in rural Virginia. The closer they get to taking control of their destiny, the more threatening their journey becomes — both physically and emotionally, as Blue discovers she’s fated to kill one of the boys. Andrew Miller (The Secret Circle) will pen the adaptation and serve as showrunner. He will executive produce with Michael London (The Magicians) of Groundswell Productions and Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight), who is also attached to direct the pilot. Author Maggie Stiefvater will co-executive produce.

Sand is described as an action-drama set in a world ravaged by ecological devastation, savage winds and shifting dunes. At its center is a family who makes their way in this world as sand divers: the elite few who can travel deep beneath the desert floor to retrieve mysterious and valuable relics lost to the dust. Adrift in the wake of their father’s disappearance years ago, they rely on skill and each other to endure this ruthless environment where otherwise good people lie, sabotage and kill in order to survive.

Gary Whitta (Rogue One) will pen the adaptation, and Marc Forster (World War Z) will direct the pilot. The two will exec produce with author Howey, Renee Wolf (All I See Is You), Imperative Entertainment’s Dan Friedkin (All the Money in the World), Tim Kring (Heroes) and Justin Levy (Teen Wolf). Imperative Entertainment will co-produce with UCP.

Harmon, along with Evan Katz (Small Crimes), is adapting Kurt Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan. The project follows Malachi Constant, the richest man in 22nd-century America. He possesses extraordinary luck, which he attributes to divine favor and has used to build upon his father's fortune. Malachi becomes the center point of a journey that takes him from Earth to Mars in preparation for an interplanetary war, to Mercury with another Martian survivor of that war, back to Earth to be pilloried as a sign of Man's displeasure with his arrogance and finally to Titan, where he again meets the man ostensibly responsible for the turn of events that have befallen him.

Lord of Light, based on the Hugo Award-winning science-fantasy novel by Roger Zelazny, takes place after humans have moved to a new planet and technological disparities allow a privileged few to assume the names and likenesses of deities and rule over the common people. Tired of the system, a former "god" wages war against the unjust regime. Ashley Miller (X-Men) will write the adaptation and exec produce. Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead) and Valhalla Entertainment will produce along with Barry Ira Gellar, Rich Angell and Mark B. Newbauer of Mike and Pike Productions. (There is no network yet attached for the latter two projects.)

Additionally, UCP on Tuesday announced that Evan Spiliotopoulos (Beauty and the Beast) is attached to write the series Welcome to Hitchcock, which is inspired by the work of Hollywood’s master of suspense and brings a modern-day take on the very best of Alfred Hitchcock with contemporary retellings of his classic tales from innovative filmmakers and high-profile actors. The project was put into development last September when the estate of the acclaimed filmmaker signed a development deal with the studio.

“We’re passionate about genre at UCP and as our latest development slate shows, we continue to work with some of the industry’s most vibrant and imaginative talent to bring fans genre fare they can get behind,” said UCP president and NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment chief content officer Jeff Wachtel. “What began with Battlestar Galactica has grown into a mainstay for UCP as the genre itself has exploded into the mainstream."

This latest development slate comes in addition to the four projects UCP has in development with Dark Horse Entertainment as part of the comic book company's recently renewed overall deal. Adaptations of Dark Horse titles Mind MGMT and Flutter are currently set up at UCP, along with TV adaptations of the popular podcasts Tanis and The Bright Sessions.

Halloween director John Carpenter also recently signed an overall deal with the studio and is currently working on Tales for a Halloween Night and an adaptation of Nightside for Syfy.

UCP's current genre fare includes The Magicians,12 Monkeys and The Expanse at Syfy, as well as the forthcoming adaptation of Grant Morrison's Happy!, and Umbrella Academy, from Dark Horse, ordered to series at Netflix.

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