Percy Jackson and the Olympians is finally getting the live-action reboot that fans have clamored for. Rick Riordan's best-selling novels were first brought to life in the early 2010s with Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, but the box office return and critical reception of both stopped the franchise before it could truly get off the ground. Mix in numerous liberties taken from the source material and a number of rushed storylines, and fans were left less than satisfied with what made its way to theaters.
But the past is in the past, and the future is now.
Production is nearly halfway complete on Percy Jackson Season 1, which will adapt the events of The Lightning Thief over the course of eight episodes. Beyond that, Riordan has also confirmed that the tentative plan is to adapt one book per season of the series.
While everything is going according to plan at this point in time, the grand vision for Percy Jackson requires patience and persistence. Numerous franchises have kicked off with promising origin stories just to flounder come the sequels.
Fortunately for Percy Jackson, there's another live-action adaptation of a young adult book series that laid the blueprint on how to bring adolescent books to life. Without further ado, here's five lessons that Disney+'s Percy Jackson can learn from the Harry Potter movies.
In professional wrestling, there's a concept called "long-term booking." The technique is fairly simple on paper: plant seeds for a rivalry, water them once every month or two, let them sprout years later. Film franchises have the same ability.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone planted plenty of seeds that barely blossomed until the final moments of The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Aspects like Harry's scar being a Horcrux and Snape's counter-spells during the Quidditch match didn't make complete sense until the filmmakers were ready to reveal their true meanings.
The Lightning Thief is riddled with teases of a big picture narrative, but it is in the show's best interest to keep them at bay until they are ready to bloom. The Fates snipping the yarn may make no sense to viewers of Season 1, but the payoff of that explanation come Season 5 will be worth the wait.prevnext
Resurrecting The Big Bad
One of the Percy Jackson films' biggest flaws was bringing Kronos into the fold too early. On the flip side, Harry Potter executed its big bad's arrival just right.
Voldemort's existence was teased throughout The Sorcerer's Stone, his backstory revealed in The Chamber of Secrets, takes a backseat in The Prisoner of Azkaban, and makes his long-awaited resurrection in the last moments of The Goblet of Fire. This man was so feared for three and a half movies that people even shied away from saying his name out loud.
Most crucial is that Voldemort never truly lost until the final film. Sure, his resurrection was stalled thanks to failed efforts by Professor Quirrell and a manipulated Ginny Weasley, but once he took full form, his adversaries merely escaped him. This makes Voldemort a believable threat to Hogwarts rather than a villain who is defeated time and time again. The win-loss record means something.
Treating Kronos in a similar fashion would go a long way. Reduce him to hauntingly subtle mentions in Season 1. Keep him dormant throughout Season 2. Allow him to take a backseat in Season 3, just to give him his full resurrection in the final episodes of Season 4, setting the stage for a highly-anticipated Season 5 clash. This also means that when Percy and company win the day in the first few seasons, they are not fully defeating Kronos but merely delaying the big battle.prevnext
Live-action adaptations never need to be a complete beat-by-beat retelling of the source material. The big picture should stay consistent and the characters should be true to the page, but film and television should be seen as opportunities to make these stories even better.
While not all original scenes will be home runs, Harry Potter exemplified how much of an asset they can be on numerous occasions. Harry's famous, "How dare you stand where he stood!" to Headmaster Snape was an original creation for The Deathly Hallows Part 2 and remains one of the franchise's most admired moments.
As confirmed by executive producer Becky Riordan, Percy Jackson Season 1 will include at least one "non-book scene" that will "improve story logic." Scenes like this will keep the diehard book fans on their toes and also gives the show the opportunity to carve out its own legacy.
There will inevitably be chapters from the books that are cut from the show, but Percy Jackson has the luxury of playing with eight episodes of television. Unlike a two hour movie, most of these original scenes will likely come as enhancements rather than replacements.prevnext
Mix of Unknown and Established Actors
Most actors come with a certain level of power to their name. When audiences see Tom Cruise or Robert Downey Jr. in a role, they immediately understand that the character they are portraying on screen has a level of power.
This casting technique has been applied in many movies before, and especially in the Harry Potter franchise. They're household names now, but once upon a time Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson were unknown to the mainstream. On the contrary, co-stars like Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith were multi-time Emmy and Academy Award winners.
Having the likes of Rickman and Smith step into the professor roles allowed the audience to buy into their authority from the get go. Bringing in more decorated actors like Jason Isaacs and Gary Oldman to play notable parental figures later in the franchise only emphasized the hierarchy of power.
Percy Jackson already has half the battle accomplished with its casting. Leading man Walker Scobell has a little more credits to his name than Radcliffe did when he was cast as The Boy Who Lived, but still remains in that relative unknown category alongside co-stars Leah Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri. On the flip side, Percy Jackson should now look to familiar faces to fulfill the seats on Olympus. Bringing in established names to portray the gods, who all have significantly limited screen time in the books, would give them the same amount of prominent presence that the Harry Potter professors and parents had.prevnext
One Season Per Year
It sounds simple in hindsight, but Harry Potter was truly one of a kind with its release rollout. The eight-film franchise first debuted in theaters in 2001 and dropped its final installment in 2011. Except for 2003, 2006, and 2008, there was a new Harry Potter movie ever year for a straight decade.
Considering Percy Jackson Season 1 is shooting over the course of eight months and may not arrive until 2024, getting a new season on the streamer every year will be tough. This also means a potential Season 2 wouldn't go into production until 2024 at the earliest, unless Disney is so impressed by what they see from raw footage that they green light a sophomore installment well before fans see the pilot episode.
That said, if and when Percy Jackson gets the go ahead to do a full five seasons, the series should lay out a production roadmap similar to Harry Potter. This would not just be for the benefit of the fans, but for the benefit of having the core kids that make up the series stay consistent with their characters' ages.
The entire Percy Jackson series is built around the titular character's 16th birthday prophecy. Scobell is 13 years old now, meaning he's on track to age alongside the son of Poseidon. In order to ensure the series doesn't have an actor age jump as drastic as Stranger Things 4, Disney should aim to keep Percy Jackson to about one season per year.prev