Rick Riordan explains why his new Disney+ show is "Percy Jackson the way we envisioned it"

Rick and Rebecca Riordan reflect on finally getting to adapt Percy Jackson as they originally intended it, and if the show will follow the book cover-to-cover.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Percy Jackson and the Olympians /

The two movies based on Rick Riordan's immensely popular Percy Jackson pentology of novels -- The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters, released in 2010 and 2013 respectively -- received mixed reviews from the fans. Despite being successful at the box office, fans of the series were displeased with the cinematic adaptations as well as some of the casting choices. Riordan himself was not too happy with them either.

Disney tackled the criticisms head-on for the ongoing eight-episode TV series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which premiered back in December on Disney+. The series has been getting positive reviews from both existing fans of the books and those who are new to the franchise. One of the factors that may have helped is that regard is Riordan and his wife Rebecca are "very involved." Rick is co-writing the show with Jonathan E. Steinberg, while Rebecca is an executive producer.

In an interview with The Hindu, Rick and Rebecca shared how the show came to be. "Disney has been my publisher here in the US for years. I went to Disney with Becky (Rebecca) and said we would be interested in trying again to adapt Percy Jackson, but as a television show," Riordan said. "Fortunately for us, they got excited about the idea and here we are."

Rick and Rebecca Riordan wanted the series to follow the books more closely than the movies, and they got their wish. "It is Percy Jackson the way we envisioned it," Rick said.

The first season of the show is based on the first book in the series, and the subsequent seasons will each be based on the remaining four books. While the series is a way truer to the source material in terms of storytelling and character personalities, the script is not a word-by-word copy of the book. "The books are told from Percy’s point of view and you are only in his imagination. One of the wonderful things about a television show is that we can include and tell the same story from multiple points of view because you are with the characters, even when Percy is not there," Rick said.

Riordan also heaped praise on the three main stars of the show, Walker Scobell, Leah Jeffries, and Aryan Simhadri, who play Percy, Annabeth, and Grover respectively. "They have been a pleasure to work with and we’re so lucky to get them.”

The first five episodes of Percy Jackson and the Olympians are currently streaming on Disney+, with new episodes dropping every Wednesday till Jan. 31, 2024.

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