In less than a day, the anticipated third installment to Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy hits shelves, which reminds us that there is supposed to be a feature adaptation of the first book on the way. It’s been a while since we’ve heard any updates on the project, and from what Brown recently said, they’re not trying to rush the process of bringing this ambitious adaptation to the big screen.
An update to this article has been added to the bottom
In anticipation of the arrival of Morning Star, Red Rising author Pierce Brown spoke with Inverse about his trilogy. When the topic of the movie came up — amidst a pretty great story about Brown geeking out over getting to meet TV composer Bear McCreary on a plane — Brown offered a vague update on the status of the Red Rising movie, including what’s going on with the script…
It’s still in development right now. The average movie takes six years to develop, unless they’re pushing it very fast. But Marc Forster has been really careful, which is nice, because he loves the material. So we’re not trying to do a rushed job of this. I did the first two drafts and my buddy is doing a new draft.
World War Z director Marc Forster is presently on board to direct Red Rising, and from what Pierce Brown says, the adaptation is still in the development phase, with two drafts of the script done — penned by Brown, himself — and a new draft in the works. That sounds promising… but it doesn’t sound like anyone’s in a rush to get this movie into theaters anytime soon.
On the brighter side, it’s really encouraging to hear the author speak positively of how the director is treating his work. Given the nature of the source material, which blends sci-fi with politics, war and adventure, this adaptation could prove to be very tricky, visually, and it’s not an adaptation we'd want to see rushed to the screen and haphazardly adapted.
Red Rising’s story is set centuries into the future, when humanity is not only spread out across the solar system, but has also divided itself with a caste system of colors. Golds rule over society, while low reds like Darrow — the sixteen-year-old protagonist of the story — live out their entire lives beneath the surface of Mars, as they mine for helium-3, believing their hard work and sacrifice are all in an effort to eventually terraform the planet and make it habitable for the other colors. The story follows young Darrow through tragedy and his eventual recruitment to infiltrate the Golds.
To say that the story paints a colorful picture of mankind’s future would be an understatement. The people of Society appear as the colors they represent. Golds are essentially super-humans, larger, stronger and, well, golder than the other colors. It’s one thing to read Pierce Brown’s novels and picture them towering over the rest of Society, staring down at the lower colors through golden eyes, but it’s surely another to adapt that vision to the big screen and create the right visual tone, while also balancing Brown’s thrilling and suspenseful tale, along with the necessary character development that makes the book so satisfying.
The optimist in me sees Red Rising’s eventual movie living up to its potential and being one of the better sci-fi/fantasy films in recent years. Done right, it can be. It’ll be very exciting when Red Rising gets to the casting stage, but it sounds like, for now, they’re still tightening up the script. In the meantime, fans have the third book (Morning Star) to hell-dive into, as of Tuesday, February 9. Beyond that, Pierce Brown mentioned that he’ll be doing some TV stuff in the future, and working on a new book series.
On a related note: For those of you Howlers looking for some cool Red Rising merch, author Pierce Brown has partnered with artist Joel Daniel Phillips on a Kickstarter Campaign that offers backers some pretty fantastic screen prints and collectibles. The campaign is already fully backed, but they're working toward a stretch goal that includes a House Mars t-shirt.
Update: August 10, 2017:
For those wondering if there's been any updates on the status of the movie, there really haven't. Pierce Brown's default answer to questions on the status of the movie is that it's still in development, and that adaptations take time. Here are his exact words from a recent interview with Dynamic Forces...
Pretty tight-lipped at the moment. Things are in development. If anyone ever tells you that Hollywood moves fast, then they either worked on The Martian or they’re a damn liar.
You can bet we'll update if and when there's any movement on the film. In the meantime, sequel to the Red Rising book series, Iron Gold is available for pre-order, and due out in January. The story is set ten years after the events of Morning Star, and will divide the narrative between four perspectives. More info on that here.
Update as of January 2018:
It looks like Pierce Brown is now looking to make Red Rising into a TV show. From what he recently said while on tour to promote the release of Iron Gold, he's hopeful they'll be able to announce something official soon, but he's in touch with a director who wants to turn Red Rising into a show. It would be amazing for this series to get picked up by a major streaming service or a premium cable channel with the budget to do the adaptation properly. Of course, we'll post updates if/when anything official is announced.