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Honorverse movies underway

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Honorverse movies underway
Post by runsforcelery   » Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:22 am

First Space Lord

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Location: South Carolina

Okay, according to my "Hollywood representative," we've officially closed the deal on the movie option for the Honorverse. I should be seeing the contracts in the next few days, and there are a couple of other legal documents that need to be traded back and forth, but We Have a Deal.

There was quite a bit of discussion on the forum a while back about what goes into a successful movie adaptation of a literary work, and whether or not a literary work can be "successfully" adapted at all. The Lord of the Rings was used as an example, and everyone involved (including me) trotted out the aspects of the Peter Jackson adaptation that didn't work for us. And now, if all goes well, it's going to be Honor's turn, beginning with On Basilisk Station.

I'm not going to lie to you — I feel a certain degree of trepidation. I think that's inevitable, given how many years I've put into creating the books and the characters in them. It's a given, inescapable, that there are going to be changes to the books to bring them to the movie screen and that some of those changes are going to tick off some of Honor's most devoted readers. It can't be any other way, if only because of the size of the books and the sprawling nature of the Honorverse.

At the same time, though, I'm very excited about the discussions we've had so far on this project. There are several things, I think, working in our favor.

(1) The studio involved is headed by people who have actually read the books, who like the characters, who know the characters, and who have pulled up blocks of actual dialogue from the books in face-to-face discussions with me to illustrate their understanding of Honor's character and the reason they're excited about the project.

(2) Although the studio is a cutting edge CGI/3-D studio, what they said to me more than once when we were discussing the option is that "All the special effects in the world cannot make a successful movie. Special effects may make a satisfying visual spectacle, but a successful movie requires storyline, and a successful series of movies requires characters. It's the characters and the fully developed background of the Honorverse which have drawn us to this project."

(3) The producer and the studio are the same entity, which is going to preclude or at least hugely reduce the kinds of pissing contests producers and studios can get into.

(4) They have not simply hired me on as a creative consultant, but we've already been in fairly intensive coast-to-coast videoconferences about the characters and the story line, and they are clearly listening to me.

(5) They are thinking in terms not of a single feature film but of a series of films, based not on generated-for-the-movie plots but on the actual storyline of the series. As a result, they have a very strong interest in treating the characters and the storyline with respect.

(6) One of the things they are especially excited about is the opportunity to bring actual fleet combat to the screen. Not a couple of starships dogfighting at visual range, but actual walls of battle engaging one another. Obviously, since they're starting with Basilisk Station, there is going to be the classic single ship duel between Fearless and Sirus, but that's not all they have in mind. I'm not going to tell you what else they have in mind at this point, but I will say that while I experienced a moment of reservations when they told me the first additional thing they were thinking about, I've since come to the enthusiastic conclusion that it's A Good Idea™, especially from a cinematic perspective, and enthusiastically aided and abetted them in making it work.

There are other points working in favor of a good outcome, as well. At the same time, clearly this is a very, very early stage in the process, and I'm learning quite a bit already about the nuts and bolts and the decisions that have to be made when you start adapting a novel to film. It is unfortunately true that there have to be cost-benefit trade-offs when you start looking at which characters to keep, which ones might possibly be merged with other characters, what parts of the original plot can be preserved, etc. You only get about 120 pages of script to work with, and that requires some fairly ruthless pragmatism when you start deciding what goes on those pages. When it works properly, what you get in the end is a movie which is faithful to the original but not identical to it. That's what we're looking at accomplishing at this point.

There are, obviously, certain characters who simply cannot be written out or written around or combined with someone else. In some cases, you actually find yourself having to give a secondary character more screen time because you want an especially good actor or actress to portray that character, and unless they have enough screen time you're not (a) going to be able to attract an actor or actress of the caliber you want or (b) going to be able, within the constraints of your budget, to pay an actor or actress of that caliber. I'm sort of thinking, for example, that Harkness could fall in that category, and possibly Klaus Hauptman. Certainly we need someone really good for MacGuiness, and we need to be thinking about Hamish Alexander for the future. So there's going to have to be some strategic horsetrading where dialogue and screen time are concerned.

The critical thing to me is that these people are interested in the Honorverse and in the characters who live in it, and they clearly don't see it as the opportunity to make one movie and then get out. That's what they told me when we originally began discussions with them; that's what I observed when Sharon and I flew out to LA to meet them face-to-face; that's what the option agreement is set up to produce; and that's consistent with all of the discussion we've had so far about characterization, technology, the back story of the characters and the universe, etc. I'm sure that everyone who options his literary works to Hollywood starts out filled with confidence, and we all know the process doesn't always end well, despite that. I genuinely don't think that's going to happen in this case, however. I think these people are going to treat Honor and the Honorverse with respect, and they clearly really, really know the characters and the books.

I'll probably be providing occasional, periodic updates on the project as we go along. Obviously, this is just the beginning of what will probably be about a five-year process to actually getting the picture released, assuming that everything goes well. Assuming we're living in the real world, it will probably take just a teeny bit longer than that. [G]

At any rate, the process has started, so far it looks good, and I'm really excited about the prospects.

Stay tuned.

"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
Re: Honorverse movies underway
Post by Relax   » Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:32 am


Posts: 2564
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:18 pm


Though I can still remember my dissapointment about all of the books I have read that turned into movies. Reason? Because I had them "visualized" in my mind because they were such good reads.

Lord of the Rings
The Bourne Identity, and the following movies.
The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind turned into the Seeker of Truth series.


Note all of the above movies and series were very well done and the person who never read the books ALL thought they were awesome. After giving several years since I have read the books and then seeing the movies/series I have to say that for the most part they are extremely well done. I am sure the same thing will happen to the Honor upcoming movies as well. I am sure the hard core fan, mostly on this site, will have the books too "well" fixed in their minds and won't enjoy them nearly as much as someone who has never read the books.

Why were the books turned into a movie(s)[hopefully] because of the very well detailed MAIN flowing storyline plot that 1) has very interesting and relevant parallel SIDE plots.

I hope the movies always keep the for-shadowing at the beginning that you have consistently and expertly incorporated into your books in the first ~1-3 chapters.

Best Wishes!
Tally Ho!
Re: Honorverse movies underway
Post by Thirdbase   » Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:41 am


Posts: 2186
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:27 pm

I wish you the best of luck in getting these movies out.
runsforcelery wrote:
Thirdbase wrote:I think that was the next novel.

Allow me to demonstrate my concision, brevity, and economy of phrase:

"Smart alec!" ;p
Re: Honorverse movies underway
Post by DeltaV   » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:17 am

Lieutenant (Junior Grade)

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Very, VERY good to hear, can't wait and best of luck!!!

God Almighty, point #6 (fleet combat on the big screen) is something I've been wanting to see in a movie for a long..LONG time.
Re: Honorverse movies underway
Post by kzt   » Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:05 am

Fleet Admiral

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Location: Albuquerque, NM

That is good news. Now to hope they choose the right screenwriter.
Re: Honorverse movies underway
Post by lyonheart   » Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:27 am

Fleet Admiral

Posts: 4584
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:27 pm

Howdy RFC,

Let me fervently second or third that wish from Thirdbase.

Along with WOW! NEAT! And Cool!

Screenwriting is so different from writing novels that many authors got chewed up by Hollywood.

One who obviously didn't was C.S. Forester, of whom I suspect you know something about, including his real name.

He too was a successful author before becoming a screenwriter, but he did that for only half the year IIRC, then he wrote what he liked; with the proviso that he would write the screenplays for any of his books made into movies. Granted "African Queen" had other screenwriters as well, but for the rest, the deal held.

The 1950's saw more of his books made into movies than any other author IIRC, so paying some attention to what he did might teach some lessons on telescoping the plot and characters.
For example, with Captain Hornblower (1951?), CS managed to dramatically compress over 800 pages from his 1937-39 best sellers into something Hollywood could capture and produce despite many of the best scenes and characters (IMO) having to be dropped.

Perhaps you should have fans review those movies to prepare themselves for what can't be put on screen in less than 2 hours, NTM possibly study his papers for any useful clues. After all if its going to take five years, a little research into previous experience might prevent some major pain later.

While many scenes are critical to the story, the screenplay is going to be ruthless in pruning them, I'm afraid.

So if your fans ever get bored here by the threads here, they can always start recommending which scenes to keep and those to throw away! :-)


Thirdbase wrote:I wish you the best of luck in getting these movies out.
Any snippet or post from RFC is good if not great!
Re: Honorverse movies underway
Post by Daryl   » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:43 am


Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2010 12:57 am
Location: Queensland Australia

Beyond excellent. Personally I'm not hung up totally on the movies being absolutely true to the books, as any differences will be a new Honorverse experience anyway.
I suspect for the fans here this news will be a little like - where were you when Armstrong took his one small step, or Elvis died, or 9/11? When the series starts we'll be able to tell everyone that we were there at the start.
Re: Honorverse movies underway
Post by petercharters   » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:57 am

Captain (Junior Grade)

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You've had to work hard at this, and have been successful. That's worth a hearty slap on the back, at least. Well done!

I, for one, look forward to the results. And I promise to treat it as what it is - not the book in my mind played out for my benefit, but a separate entity, a movie that stands on its own, made based on the book but with its own strengths.

Should be fun!
Re: Honorverse movies underway
Post by Bruno Behrends   » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:06 am

Bruno Behrends
Captain of the List

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Location: Berlin

This sounds awesome and I too second Thirdbase's good luck wishes to you and the producers :)

Of course there is this 'I can't really believe any news can be this good' feeling but there always is and it doesn't change the fact that by everything you've told us the project is starting out very well!

Thank you very much for doing so much to get it right!!
And for keeping us informed :)

And we know not everything can be exactly like we want it to be so I promise I'll look at any compromises fairly and as objectively as possible.

runsforcelery wrote:Okay, according to my "Hollywood representative," we've officially closed the deal on the movie option for the Honorverse. I should be seeing the contracts in the next few days, and there are a couple of other legal documents that need to be traded back and forth, but We Have a Deal.

[snip] ...

At any rate, the process has started, so far it looks good, and I'm really excited about the prospects.

Stay tuned.
Re: Honorverse movies underway
Post by Daryl   » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:49 am


Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2010 12:57 am
Location: Queensland Australia

I just thought an amusing thought. Because of the time differential we've beaten a certain fly who shall be nameless to the news.

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