‘Chronicles of Prydain’ Movie in the Works at Disney (EXCLUSIVE)

The Chronicles of Prydai Movie
Courtesy of Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Disney has acquired movie rights to the fantasy series “The Chronicles of Prydain” and is in early development on the project, Variety has learned.

The five novels by Lloyd Alexander, based on Welsh mythology, were published annually from 1964 to 1968 and followed the protagonist Taran from youth to maturity. He’s an assistant pig-keeper but initially dreams of being a grand hero.

The books are set in the magical land of Prydain, which resembles ancient Wales and is engaged in a series of battles with Annuvin, the Land of Death.

Other key characters are the young princess Eilonwy, the bard Fflewddur Fflam and a wild creature named Gurgi.

The books are “The Book of Three,” “The Black Cauldron,” “The Castle Llyr,” “Taran Wanderer” and “The High King.” The final book won the John Newbery Medal, given by the Association for Library Service to Children.

Sam Dickerman is the Disney executive on the project, which has not yet been set with a producer, director or writer.

The first two books in the series served as the basis for Disney’s 1985 animated fantasy movie “The Black Cauldron,” in which a Horned King sought to secure an ancient magical cauldron that would aid him in his desire to conquer the world.

The film, directed by Ted Berman and Richard Rich, was the first Disney animated film to include computer-generated imagery. The movie, which carried a $44 million budget, failed to generate significant interest, with a $21 million domestic gross, and was not distributed as a home video release for more than a decade.

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  1. Exciting stuff. Disney today seems far more likely to this well than the Disney back then (which was really a different production company in most respects). Doesn’t mean they can’t fail, but I am hoping for the best. Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books were probably the greatest single inspiration for me in writing my own fantasy action adventure series, also set in ancient Wales and drawing heavily from the Mabinogion.

  2. Nathan Fleischman says:

    The reboot is a good idea given the original’s lack of success.

  3. Ahhh! My long awaited dream since I was 12 is finally coming true. I’ve had this entire set imagined as movies ever since I read it- over & over. I even had it cast. Cannot wait to see it. I almost dropped to my knees last year when I saw this announced. Please, Disney- I beg you to do this right & epically. This is the greatest series of books that I read as a kid. I cannot wait to see Taran & Eilonwy’s romance & chemistry brought to life. And please make Gurgi perfect… he has to be just right. Do your magic, Disney!

  4. Gurgi Vinci says:

    I am Gurgi it’s is my fantasy it’s is my life it’s is my world & I can’t wait when The Chronicles Of Prydain Movie comes Whoo Whoo 😊

  5. Ambrose says:

    The Chronicles of Prydain series is perfect for a movie adaption. Unlike other popular fantasy such as LOTR and Eragon, the books are short enough that you can fit a majority of the story in a film without omitting parts, a regular occurrence which guarantees to make your fans mad.

    That being said, these books beauty is in their character development. Today’s entertainment industry is fascinated with confrontation, fighting, and action. One only needs to look as far as the popularity of Marvel and DC. These characters are entirely unrealistic and hard to relate too, and the only thing that keeps audiences coming back is the fight scenes. This is with one exception, being Guardians of the Galaxy. This film builds unique and interesting characters within the story and even manages to incorporate a theme of personal sacrifice at the end. Marvel outdid itself.

    I’m surprised directors don’t look at the fantastic success of the Harry Potter movies and respect how audiences enjoy seeing Harry, Ron, and Hermione grow from children to young adults. The Harry Potter movies don’t rely on fighting and action to retain an audiences interest, but rather the personalities, friendships and Harry’s transition among diverse inspirational figures and mentors, that makes the children so realistic.

    The chronicles of Prydain doesn’t need a director interested in making the movie in the mold of every other one already out there. Nor does it need a young up and coming director interested in making a political statement. This series needs a director interested in telling a story, and making a work of art. If the production agency can actually bite the bullet and take the risk that the first movie might flop, they should put as much as they can into making the movie arresting and beautiful enough to catch audiences attention and leave them curious about the quest and journey that lies ahead for Taran.

  6. Jerome Davis says:

    this is one of few disney movies i like. seems like they didnt market it right and placed the blame on the creative team rather than the venture captialists who had just taken over disney.

  7. jhg195 says:

    I hope this time it’s badass as Lloyd Alexander novels were.

    • Archdruid says:

      Oh, I think they’ll stay much closer to the books than they did with the original animated film. Because Disney can’t afford to make another failure based on The Black Cauldron’s bombing back in ’85.

  8. I’ve been trying to track down whether they actually did have the rights before this, as I’ve been interested in adapting the series myself. And since they had released the Narnia rights to Walden Media, I’ve already been wondering why they would still be holding on to the Prydain rights, especially if they hadn’t done anything with them yet. I’ve read comments from others online for a long time that it’s “too bad Disney still has the rights” but I just wasn’t sure that was true.

    Whether it was true or not, apparently they do now.

    Point me at the people who I need to speak with to ensure they do them justice

    Also, what’s the best way to get a job at Disney?

    • Kittalia says:

      The way I heard it, Disney bought the rights to the first two books and said if it did well they’d look into doing a sequel. But Disney’s almost never done sequels for animated movies, and they didn’t want to buy the whole series unless it was a huge hit.

  9. Brendan Wanderer says:

    I’ve been trying to track down whether they actually did have the rights before this, as I’ve been interested in adapting the series myself. And since they had released the Narnia rights to Walden Media, I’d been wondering why they would be holding on to them, The internet has people saying for a long time “too bad Disney still has the rights” but I just wasn’t sure that was true. Whether it was true or not, they do now.

    Point me at the people who I need to speak with to ensure they do them justice.

  10. Dawn says:

    When did Disney /not/ have the film rights to this series? Every article is taking its information from this one and speaking of this acquisition as though it is a new thing; yet they have owned them for over 30 years, if I am not mistaken. They simply (and understandably) haven’t done anything with them since that abominable animated Black Cauldron.

    And on that note, fans of the series are now holding collective breath over this news. Here is hoping Disney has learned from its past mistakes – not only with the Prydain property but with others similar. Let us not have another Narnia, please – a film that is pretty, but generic and soulless; a storyline tampered with to make it “relevant” and “accessible” to modern audiences, or whatever ridiculous justifications are made for Hollywood’s obsessive need to mangle themes and characters beyond recognition.

    Prydain, I fear, is both too simple and too deep for Hollywood – but I certainly hope to be proven wrong, because these books have languished too long in the shadow of less worthy, but newer, literary fare, and they deserve whatever notoriety they can gain from being re-introduced to today’s moviegoers.

  11. Extremely excited if this is true.

  12. Tony says:

    I hope they aren’t animated. Also, that they do the books some justice. A few years ago I reread all my favorite books from when I was a kid, and bar none, The Prydain Chronicles held up the best. They were still extremely enjoyable as an adult, and that’s compared to many other fantasy books, like the Narnia series, and Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series, the latter of which was pretty good still, too (especially The Grey King).

  13. I have wanted to see Taran onscreen and done right since I was 14. This is such an epic series, please dont screw it up Disney. The very idea of seeing The Castle of Llyr is so exciting.

  14. PICturePlay says:

    The books were good. I hope the will adapt it right

  15. Dusntan says:

    Not another “young adult” series of novels. The same old crap.

    • Not remotely close. Maybe not quite Lord Of The Rings but superior source material than Narnia or Harry Potter. If done right could be a really fantastic series.

      • Dawn says:

        Not at all.These books set a standard, 50 years ago, that modern YA series can only hope – and mostly fail – to meet.

        The comparison to LOTR is inevitable, but unlike Tolkein’s sprawling, meandering epic, the Prydain cycle is masterfully, deceptively simple. Not a word out of place. As solid as granite, smooth as cream on the surface yet deep as an ocean. Their author was a brilliant and profoundly /good/ human being whose gentle wisdom shone in every paragraph.

        I’ve wanted to see Disney do recompense for its disastrous, nearly blasphemous treatment of these novels for over two decades, but now that this news has broken, I am shaken by it. I greatly fear that they will churn out a soulless, generic sword-and-sorcery monstrosity again, this time with a finality that will nail the coffin shut. The themes in the Prydain books directly contradict just about every value Hollywood espouses. I find it hard to imagine any studio doing them justice.

        I very much hope I am wrong.

      • EricJ says:

        Definitely not Lord of the Rings–more like Welsh Mythology 101 for the Harry Potter-age crowd–and not Hunger-Envy YA Series of the Week, but closer to the Narnia movies in tone, and Alexander has a mix of humor and adventure that Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy got too ambitious and forgot.
        And yes, the ’85 animated movie was not only a complete mess, it was the edge-of-the-cliff that helped inspire the 90’s Disney Renaissance.

    • Christopher Corradi says:

      No, these are brilliant, absolute classics, like Lord of the Rings for kids, but still entertaining to adults. These leave most of the current wave of YA crap in the dust. There’s no comparison.

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