×

Peter Calloway to Adapt ‘Alan Wake’ for Television (EXCLUSIVE)

An “Alan Wake” live-action television series is in development with Peter Calloway (“Cloak & Dagger,” “Legion”) signed on as showrunner and writer, and game creator Sam Lake as executive producer, Contradiction Films and Remedy Entertainment told Variety.

Contradiction partner Tomas Harlan said the plan is to start shopping the show around in October with Calloway’s full pitch. He said he’s already seen initial interest from a number of studios.

“‘Alan Wake’ was basically a TV series that was put into a game,” Harlan told Variety. “That was Sam’s vision. It was influenced by ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ‘Secret Window,’ Hitchcock, ‘Northern Exposure,’ a lot of U.S. television,” he said. “We plan to work closely with Sam on our this show. Sam is a huge part of this. This is his baby.”

“Alan Wake,” which was released on the Xbox 360 and Windows PC in 2010, followed fictitious best-selling author Alan Wake (Matthew Porretta) on a journey to a small town in Washington state, where he hopes to rid himself of prolonged writer’s block. What follows is an increasingly surreal experience that seems to bring the plot from his last novel — which he has no memory of writing — to life.

The game leaned heavily on an episodic structure that delivered levels as if they were episodes in a television series and even features small interactions with in-game televisions that featured snippets of TV shows created for the game. This blending of game and TV helped to redefine a form of interactive storytelling.

While well received by critics, the five-years-in-development game never got a full sequel. “Alan Wake’s American Nightmare” was more of a spinoff than a continuation of the first game’s story. Developer Remedy did work on a proper sequel for the game, but despite the original selling 4.5 million copies, that game was never realized.

Lake said in 2015 that he had big plans for the game, beyond even a sequel.

“Definitely what we have mapped out is a longer thing than the first game and a sequel; there is more to it,” Lake said. “In many ways, we see the universe as a bigger thing. Alan Wake is a very central character, but we have other characters around him like [friend and agent Barry Wheeler] and his wife Alice and Sheriff Sarah Breaker and other characters there. We feel this is a big universe to develop and explore in many ways.”

Speaking with Variety this week, Harlan declined to reveal specifics about the upcoming show’s plot or how it would fit into the existing games or the unmade sequel.

“I think it’s important to embrace those characters and to bring Alan Wake to where he was [in the video game,]” Harlan said. “We can’t start the show off where he is fully functioning, running through the forest, taking down lumberjacks.”

Harlan added that the show won’t tell a story that is in “lockstep” with the game.

Lake told Variety that while Wake is very much “in the heart of this story, there are vitally important characters around him as well.”

“The story of the original game is our starting point, the seed which will grow into the bigger story we’re exploring in the show,” Lake said. “We’ll be expanding the lore of this crazy and dark universe and diving deeper into certain aspects of it than the game ever did.”

That includes tapping into some of the story planned for that unreleased second game.

“Not only that, but through the years, we’ve worked on multiple game concepts and stories for Alan Wake’s world that have never seen the light of day,” Lake said. “All of this material will function as potential source material for the show.”

Lake declined to say, though, whether the show’s story will be official canon for the Alan Wake universe.

“In a story like ‘Alan Wake,’ a story filled with mystery and questions, answering this one would be a spoiler,” he said.

While Harlan said he hopes that the future success of the show could put Remedy in a position to finally make an “Alan Wake 2” video game (“That would be a dream of mine,” he said.), Lake was a bit more reticent to discuss that possibility.

“At the moment, there is no news of any further ‘Alan Wake’ games,” he said. “As before, we’re exploring these possibilities and hoping to make it happen when the time is right.”

The deal for the TV show came together over the course of multiple meetings and through a lot of persistence by Harlan.

While Contradiction created adaptations based on “Dead Rising” and “Mortal Kombat,” Harlan long eyed “Alan Wake” as something he wanted to bring to television.

“‘Alan Wake’ was a very linear experience,” he said. “It’s the finest story I’ve run across in video games. I’ve played through the game maybe 50 times.”

Over the course of several years, Harlan got to know Lake and the people at Remedy, often pushing them to agree to an adaptation, he said. But previous, bad experiences with Hollywood left them cautious about striking any deals.

“We had multiple meetings and they were very clear they weren’t interested in an ‘Alan Wake’ television show,” Harlan said. “I’d see them at E3, at the Nordic Games Convention and we became friends over time. I really love, love this game and they started to open up to the idea.”

Eventually, Remedy started discussing Harlan’s ideas for a show with him and that led to Contradiction creating a team and working up a concept on how the game would make the leap to TV.

“The next step was finding a writer who could create something authentic to the game experience,” Harlan said. “Who understood how a game should be adapted versus a novel or other linear experience.”

Harlan took a meeting with Calloway at E3 and his pitch “blew it out of the water,” Harlan said. “Remedy was blown away by his pitch as was Sam.”

The plan moving forward is to start taking meetings after Harlan returns from his wedding, which is this week, and then put together Calloway’s full pitch.

While Harlan is very aware of the long, spotty history Hollywood has with video game adaptations, he doesn’t think “Alan Wake” will fall victim to the same sort of issues that have haunted much of the movies based on video games.

Television is a big part of that. The medium, Harlan said, is a better fit for video game adaptations than are movies.

“How do you take a 10 to 40-hour experience and distill it down to 90 minutes?” he said. “I don’t think you can.”

The rise and diversification of the sorts of television shows that are now being made for everyone from HBO and Netflix to the BBC, had a big impact on what Harlan thinks can be done for TV.

“It changed the world and how we look at things,” he said. “We have all of this runway now.”

More TV

  • The Good Fight Season 4 christine

    TV News Roundup: CBS All Access 'The Good Fight' Season 4 Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV News Roundup, CBS All Access unveiled a trailer for Season 4 of “The Good Fight,” and Quibi released trailers for two more upcoming programs.  FIRST LOOKS CBS All Access has debuted the official trailer for Season 4 of “The Good Fight.” The series picks up with the law firm Reddick, Boseman & [...]

  • Chris Benoit Dark Side of the

    'Dark Side of the Ring' Season 2 Premiere Sets Vice Ratings Record

    The Season 2 premiere of “Dark Side of the Ring” not only brought in the show’s best ratings last week, but the best ratings ever for a Vice TV original telecast. According to Nielse data, “Dark Side of the Ring” brought in 1.2 million viewers across three telecasts on March 24. That is up 119% [...]

  • Westworld

    'Westworld' Star Evan Rachel Wood on the 'Digital War' at the Heart of Season 3

    Netflix, but everywhere, and evil: That’s the chilling idea at the center of the third season of “Westworld.” As star Evan Rachel Wood explained during a live interview on the “Variety After-Show” — streamed via Variety‘s Instagram account after the third episode of “Westworld” aired on HBO — her sentient robot character Dolores now knows what [...]

  • 'The Bachelor Summer Games' Shelved at

    'The Bachelor Summer Games' Shelved at ABC Due to Coronavirus

    ABC has made the decision to shelve its planned “The Bachelor Summer Games” spinoff, Variety has confirmed, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt the entertainment industry. The prospective series, which had yet to be officially announced, was slated to air during the Olympics this summer, however, news of the show being scrapped for the [...]

  • V Wars Season 1

    'V-Wars,' 'October Faction' Canceled at Netflix After One Season Each

    Both “V-Wars” and “October Faction” have been canceled at Netflix after airing just one season apiece, Variety has confirmed. The two shows are both produced by IDW Entertainment, which is also behind the Netflix series adaptation of “Locke & Key.” News of the twin cancellations comes just after Netflix announced a season 2 pick up for [...]

  • FOX PRESENTS THE IHEART LIVING ROOM

    Fox, iHeart Execs Reveal Secrets Behind 'Living Room Concert' Performances (EXCLUSIVE)

    As recently as last Tuesday, just three artists had signed on to “Fox Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America.” But after a week of scrambling and all-night editing sessions, the producers and executives behind the special managed to put together a one-hour event on Sunday night that attracted at least 8.7 million viewers [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content