Although it’s one of the most popular novels of all time, somehow H.G. Wells’ 1898 sci-fi thriller The War of the Worlds has never gotten a straightforward television adaptation. That’s presumably all about to change, though, as U.K. production company Mammoth Screen is putting together a miniseries based on the alien invasion story that will retain the original setting and time period. But we might be waiting on it for quite a while.
Mammoth currently has its funding secured in the U.K., and it’ll soon be actively seeking out a company in the U.S. to be a co-producer on the project. The search process, as well as the development process, can be as stringent as possible, since The War of the Worlds won’t be going into production until the early part of 2017, after the novel enters the public domain at the end of 2016 and Paramount no longer has copyright privileges with it. Let’s hope the tripods don’t show up in the meantime.
Putting the screenplays together for The War of the Worlds is Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell writer Peter Harness, according to BroadcastNow. Harness has also penned recent episodes of Doctor Who and Wallander. His work before that doesn’t do much to paint him as the perfect guy for this gig, but his work adapting Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a great marker of his talents. He has my faith instilled.
While it’s a shame we’ll be waiting possibly two entire years for it, that long gap will hopefully allow the production team to find the best cast humanly possible, especially if the narrator is ever-present during the story. Can’t have anyone awful stinking things up. Cast a wide net, Mammoth.
Even though this will be the first legit TV adaptation of The War of the Worlds, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been brought to audiences in many other forms. There was the Canadian/American TV series War of the Worlds in 1988, but it was a present-day follow-up that borrowed some ideas from the novel, the game-changing Orson Welles radio play and the film. The first film, that is, which would be 1953’s version directed by Byron Haskin. And then the more recent version came in 2005, with Steven Spielberg behind the camera and Tom Cruise in front of it. As well, there have been a bunch of other radio plays, video games comic books and more.
Mammoth has proven itself worthy of novel adaptations, having already put Winston Graham’s Poldark, Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End and And Then There Were None in front of audiences. Considering the company is owned by ITV, it’s no surprise that ITV Studios Global Entertainment will be distributing it internationally. Here’s hoping whoever signs up for it in the U.S. is as reputable as possible. Dare we ask for Netflix?