After seeing disappointing results from a 2007 film adaptation, New Line Cinema is taking another run at Philip Pullman’s bestselling trilogy His Dark Materials with a TV series for BBC One. The series will be executive produced by Pullman, Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner of Bad Wolf, Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood of New Line Cinema, Bethan Jones of BBC One and Deborah Forte of Scholastic.
The show is the first TV production for New Line, a nearly 50-year-old film label run by Warner Bros. Flush with cash and multiple Oscar wins for The Lord of the Rings, New Line aimed for similar fantasy epic glory in 2007 with The Golden Compass, based on the first book in Pullman's trilogy. Starring Nicole Kidman, it fizzled with just $372 million at the global box office.
The misfire, on the eve of the financial crisis, led to the end of New Line's 40-plus years of independent control. Four months after the film's release, the company shed hundreds of employees, closed its West Hollywood headquarters and became a label on the Warner lot.
The His Dark Materials series is a popular work of imaginative fiction for both children and adults. The books are Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.
“It’s been a constant source of pleasure to me to see this story adapted to different forms and presented in different media. It’s been a radio play, a stage play, a film, an audiobook, a graphic novel--and now comes this version for television,” said Pullman. “In recent years we’ve seen the way that long stories on television, whether adaptations (Game Of Thrones) or original (The Sopranos, The Wire), can reach depths of characterization and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel. And the sheer talent now working in the world of long-form television is formidable. For all those reasons I’m delighted at the prospect of a television version of His Dark Materials.”
His Dark Materials is the first commission from Bad Wolf, a production company with bases in Wales and Los Angeles.
"To say that I am grateful to Philip Pullman and to Toby and Carolyn at New Line Cinema for entrusting this to Bad Wolf is an understatement,” said Tranter. "We will give everything that we have to rise to the challenge of doing justice to these great works and to the responsibility that Philip and the incomparable BBC have bestowed on us.”