Sometimes, an epic story must travel an epic road before it finds its audience. That will be the case with Bradley Cooper’s adaptation of Hyperion, should we ever get to see it. Cooper first announced his desire to direct a screen treatment of the highly acclaimed science fiction book by Dan Simmons back in 2011. Then in 2015, it was announced that Cooper had partnered with SyFy to create a limited series television treatment of the story. Now, Deadline has broken the news that Cooper’s adaptation of Hyperion has moved over to Warner Bros., where it’s being developed as a feature film.
The shift from TV adaptation to full-blown movie comes after Cooper announced a new production company with Weston Middleton. This company is so new that there isn’t even even a name attached to it yet, but already it appears that this project is moving full steam ahead. Graham King (World War Z, Tomb Raider), who was set to produce the show over at SyFy, is making the jump over to Warner Bros. alongside Cooper and will be staying on in the same role. Tom Spezialy, executive producer of HBO’s Watchmen, is attached as well. The production is currently on the hunt for a director.
According to Deadline, the reason that Cooper and his team are shifting their sights from television to movies is to “provide the IP with more breadth and scope that the expansive story demands.”
And that makes sense to me. Hyperion is an enormous and extremely complex story, one that could be compared to something like Dune. Considering Warner Bros.’ recent success with that film, it only makes sense that they might consider other science fiction series.
What is Hyperion?
Hyperion, the first novel of The Hyperion Cantos, is a sci-fi reimagining of The Canterbury Tales set 700 years after humanity has colonized the stars, when a war of apocalyptic proportions threatens to destabilize the established intergalactic Hegemony. As forces collide across the galaxy, seven pilgrims are brought to the planet Hyperion, where an enigmatic metal creature called the Shrike dwells. The Shrike is known for impaling living people on the metal trees that populate its valley, a mysterious place where time moves in strange ways…and where the secret to preventing doomsday might be found. Over the course of the journey, each member of the party relates their story and motivations for seeking out the Shrike — some for altruistic reasons, others for far more nefarious ones.
It’s a deeply philosophical story, and due to the amount of flashbacks and main characters it might actually even be more complicated than Dune, which is saying something.
One of the most interesting things about this is the timing. Warner Bros.’ adaptation of Dune premiered only a couple of weeks ago, and has proved such a commercial and critical success that Part Two was recently greenlit. Now it seems the studio may be looking to expand its sci-fi roster with other, similarly epic stories.
And Hyperion certainly is that. The novel is the first in a four-book series called The Hyperion Cantos, giving it a lot of franchise potential should the project succeed. Moreover, the story is basically pre-loaded for exactly the kind of split treatment that Dune is getting: the first two novels, Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, comprise one fluid tale that is split directly down the middle. Same for the other two novels, Endymion and The Rise of Endymion, which are set 274 years after the first two books and feature an almost entirely new cast of characters. It’s easy to see the appeal, especially considering the fact that this is clearly a passion project for Cooper that he’s been dedicated to adapting for over a decade.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but if this is anything to judge by, Warner Bros. may just be getting warmed up with its sci-fi blockbusters.