What happened to The Kingkiller Chronicle movies and TV show?


The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss is a hugely popular fantasy series. At one point, there were movies and a TV show in the works. What happened?

After the success of Game of Thrones, everyone wants to release the next huge epic fantasy project. Look at shows like The Witcher on Netflix or His Dark Materials on HBO, or upcoming projects like The Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time on Amazon.

Then there’s The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. This as-yet-incomplete trilogy is one of the most popular epic fantasy series in the world right now, with both books released so far — The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear — appearing on the New York Times bestseller list and selling 10 million copies worldwide. They’re a pretty big deal among fantasy fans, and over the years we’ve heard of multiple adaptations in development, but nothing’s ever reached the finished line.

What happened? Unfortunately, the adaptations have run into a lot of setbacks. Let’s take a closer look.

For those unacquainted with The Kingkiller Chronicle, it chronicles the life of Kvothe, a supposed killer of kings (or a king), who lives in undercover as the innocent innkeeper of the Waystone Inn, along with his apprentice Bast, in the faraway town of Newarre. While undercover, Kvothe takes on the pseudonym of Kote. One day he is visited by Devan Lochees, also known as Chronicler, who recognizes him for who he really is. Before long, Kvothe agrees to recite his colorful life over the course of three days. He only allows Chronicler and Bast to listen to his story, while Chronicler writes it all down.

Day One is covered by The Name of the Wind, which came out in 2007, and Day Two by The Wise Man’s Fear in 2011. Fans are still waiting for the third and final book, The Doors of Stone, and some are growing impatient. Sounds a lot like the situation George R.R. Maritn has with his A Song of Ice and Fire series, huh? The comparison has been made… many times.

Anyway, we learn a lot more about Kvothe’s life, from his time living on the streets to becoming a musician to learning magic at the University. The thread that ties everything together is Kvothe’s relentless search for the people who murdered his parents: a group of seven evil beings from myth called the Chandrian.

What happened to The Kingkiller Chronicle TV show?

For years now, The Kingkiller Chronicle has been dubbed “the next Game of Thrones” by fantasy fans. I like to think it shares more in common with Harry Potter: a young protagonist, a magic school, etc. But given its epic scope and complex worldbuilding, Game of Thrones comparisons are only natural.

Attempts to bring Kingkiller to the screen really got going in when Game of Thrones was nearing the height of its popularity. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Lionsgate acquired the screen rights to the story in 2015. The studio was planning to turn the story not only into a TV show, but also into movies and even video games. They had grand ambitions.

“Honestly, I’ve never been very interested in a straight-up movie deal,” Rothfuss said when the announcement was made. “But Lionsgate was willing to work out something different, a multiplatform deal where they develop the films, TV series, and games simultaneously. That will give us the screen time to develop the characters and show off the world. What’s more, through this whole process, they’ve treated me with amazing respect. I never thought a studio would approach me as a creative partner who understands how stories work.”

A while later, in 2017, the TV adaptation landed at Showtime, with Hamilton writer Lin-Manuel Miranda attached as executive producer. (Kingkiller has a lot of music in it, so his talents would be appreciated.) John Rogers (Leverage, The Player) was signed on to write the show.

The 10-episode TV series wasn’t going to be a direct adaptation of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. Instead, it was meant to be a prequel series following two traveling musicians, likely from the Edema Ruh, the wandering tribe of which Kvothe is a part. We were never given too many details on the show, but it may have followed Kvothe’s parents. I think it sounds like it could have been a hit.

Unfortunately, development hasn’t gone smoothly. In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thread from 2019, Lin-Manuel Miranda talked opened about the snags:

"The honest answer? We haven’t cracked it. As YOU know, it’s an incredibly rich story and complex world. When we crack it, there’ll be news. But not before it’s absolutely right. Working with Pat has been a total joy."

None of this has stopped him from working on the music, however. Apparently, he at least got started on some iconic songs from the books:

So, three years on, what happened to the TV show? Well, Showtime ended up passing on it. As of September 2019, Lionsgate is currently shopping it around, but it has yet to find a home. John Rogers tried to put a positive spin on this, saying he’s glad the show won’t get made in the shadow of Game of Thrones, but for fans, it’s hard to see it as anything but bad news:

As the show is a prequel, whichever network eventually lands it needs to understand that the show is the start of what would be a much bigger franchise. This isn’t going to be a one-shot show. It’s something that could be a universe onto itself, something that takes time and dedication.

What happened to The Kingkiller Chronicle movies?

If we don’t know much about the TV show, the movies — which would adapt the books in a more straightforward way — are even more mysterious. Early on, we saw Spider-Man director Sam Raimi jump on board the project…and then leave for whatever reason. Lindsey Beer (Transformers: The Last Knight) was also signed on to pen the scrips.

Other than that, we don’t really have any other news. Let’s hope things speed up!

It remains to be seen how long the wait will be before we see Rothfuss’ creation up on any screen, big or small. I’m willing to bet it’ll be a while. I can’t see a lot of networks taking a risk on an epic fantasy series when the books aren’t even completed yet, not after what happened with Game of Thrones

And who’s to say the adaptations have to be live-action? Many fans think The Kingkiller Chronicle would be great as an animated series. If you’re not convinced, allow me to direct your attention to this awesome video that animates a scene from The Name of the Wind:

In conclusion, it’s probably best to leave the Kingkiller adaptations alone for a little while until we get something more concrete. Things have not gone anywhere near as smoothly as everyone would have liked. Until then, we can enjoy the multiple fantasy TV shows of offer today, from The Witcher to Cursed and beyond.

Next. 10 things we need to see in The Doors Of Stone, Kingkiller Book 3. dark

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