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Phoenix Comic-Con 2016 ()
#1 Share

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The Movie Question

- A film adaptation is different than a graphic novel adaptation. A film brings in new fans who may not be avid readers, a completely different audience. A graphic novel will likely have a similar audience to his books.

- With book to film adaptations he says that there's only a one-in-three chance it will be a good adaptation of one of his books, and it's a risk he's willing to take.

- He quoted someone he couldn't remember saying basically that you can make a bad film, but that doesn't change the fact that the book is good. Someone once asked an author about a film ruining their book and they said "It's still there on the shelf, nothing's happened to the book."

- He sold the rights to people he feels he can trust to make good movies.

- Of all of them, Reckoners has the best chance at getting a movie but he made it clear that's just his hunch/estimate and we shouldn't run to twitter getting excited about a movie that might not even happen.

Shadows of Self Portland signing ()
#2 Share

Questioner

Have you been approached by anybody about making a movie?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, "making a movie," okay, okay. *sighs* *crowd laughs* So, Holywood. Holywood! Holywood is this-- they do this thing where they option books, right? And this-- most of the deals you see, they get signed, are what we call an option. They come in, they say, "We think we might be able to get a movie made, but we don't know for sure. So we're going to rent the rights from you." Against-- Like leasing. Renting to own. Where we pay you a certain amount every year that's against a big payout, and if we ever decide to make a big payout we buy the rights outright. But until then we can rent them for like five years and pay you every year or eighteen months. These are very common in Holywood. They happen a lot. And it's-- now that I've become involved in this it's kind of interesting to me that, like, when something gets optioned it's like, "Huge news! Oh, it's gonna get made!" But one in thirty of these get made <by general>. And most of the deals you're hearing about are those. As well you'll probably hear about this deal, you'll be like, "Oh, somebody's going to make this film." And then five years later you're like, "Whatever happened to that?" Well, it was just an option deal. And I've had like ten things get optioned. Like I've sold things over and over again and stuff like that. And so yes, people have my works optioned. Nothing I've done has ever gone past screenplay except for Alcatraz, at DreamWorks Animation which went to storyboard before then they decided to kill it. So, yeah obviously you didn't get that movie. That was years ago. They made the Croods instead. *crowd laughs* No, really, I-- those were the two competing projects. So I got-- So nothing has gone past screenplay-- I have gotten a screenplay a couple times before, but the step after that is like to get a director attached, and then like, you know, then get a greenlight, or get actors attached. The greenlight is the hard thing. The only thing I know of that got greenlit recently is The Sword of Shannara, which is coming out in January I think. Everything else I know is just an option. And so, yeah. But Steelheart's at Shawn Levy's company, who did the Night at the Museum films. Emperor's Soul is at DMG who were producers on two of the Iron Man films. The rest of the Cosmere is optioned by somebody else, but they haven't announced it yet, so I can't talk about it. They're very specific about stuff like that. Legion's been optioned twice, and both people have not been able to get that made as a television show. I mean, everything's been optioned.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#3 Share

Questioner

So you've branched out into graphic novels. What about other types of media--?

Brandon Sanderson

So the question is, "I've branched out into graphic novels. What about other types of media? TV and things like that." Well a graphic novel is something we can kind of have enough control over to make it happen ourselves. Right? Like I know the people at Dynamite. We can work directly with the writer. We can work directly with the artist. And so a small team can put together a graphic novel. It's more than required to put together a book, like I do, but it's still a small team. It's basically me, the writer, the illustrator, and then Isaac and Peter working on this. So, you know, five people can put this together.

A movie--have you seen the credits scroll? *crowd laughs* I can't really do that on my own. So the best we can hope for is for me to sell the rights, which I've done for most of my properties, and hope that someone in Holywood can actually make a film out of them that's good. And that's just a roll of the dice. So, yes we're trying. It is slow. Watch my website--we'll say if there's any news. There really isn't right now. Fox has *Steelheart*. They've been doing work on the screenplay, which looks good. But, you know, the screenplay is the easy step--the next two steps are the hard ones.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#4 Share

Questioner

I guess this is a continuation of the movie stuff.  I heard that you said a lot of the stuff has been optioned.  Is anything looking better more recently?

Brandon Sanderson

Is anything looking better. The Emperor's Soul film is actually looking really sharp. That's owned by DMG who were producers on the second and third Iron Man films. And they sent a representative on the cruise with me last week *laughter* Yes, because they wanted to brainstorm with me--it was a working cruise, I was doing a writing workshop--and so we brainstormed a lot and we have a treatment that is looking very nice. A treatment is the thing you give to a screenwriter to write the screenplay. I'm very pleased with the experience with them.

And Shawn Levy's company is really good, so our chances are much better there than they have been on anything else.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#8 Share

Questioner 1

So I hear that you have a director for Steelheart--

Brandon Sanderson

Do we have a director for Steelheart. So Steelheart was purchased by Shawn Levy's company, at Fox, Shawn Levy directed the film Real Steel, which I really like, he also directed the Night at the Museum films, which I enjoy.

Questioner 1

Do you have an idea as to when casting might start?

Brandon Sanderson

So the way this goes-- breaks down for those who aren't aware. First thing they do, usually, when they buy a property is they commission a screenplay. Which they did. Screenplay came in some time in January, I haven't seen it yet they are sending it out for a polish. Once they are satisfied with the screenplay, at that point that's when they go to the studio and try to-- Oh that's when they try to get talent attached. Usually a director, like Shawn Levy is enough talent if he says "Yup, this screenplay turned out good, it's my next project" that would get it a greenlight and they would go to casting. So it's actually going really well. If it weren't a studio deal, if it weren't through Fox, at that point they would have to get some talent attached and then they'd have to convince a studio to give up funding and stuff like this. But if Shawn Levy likes the screenplay and says "Yes I'm doing this" it will then go to casting.

Questioner 2

Would you have any option on the screenplay?

Brandon Sanderson

Would I have any option on the screenplay-- No I do not have any power over the screenplay. No. When you sell rights like this most of the time you just have to hope they do a good job. I feel I gave them a pretty good screenplay in Steelheart in the book itself so I'm hoping Steelheart the book works out as a film.
Sasquan 2015 ()
#9 Share

Questioner

And the Steelheart film?

Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart film is owned by Fox, different company, Shawn Levy's company, 21 Laps at Fox, they are the ones who did Real Steel if you ever saw that, the Richard Matheson story, and I thought their adaptation of that was really good. They also did the Night of the Museum films, and so when they came to me asking for Steelheart, I said yes, but I only signed on that in June, so I don't know- it's only been a couple months. I wouldn't expect an update for another couple months.

We signed on Emperor's Soul in November, October of last year, so I've been able to see the progress on that one come along.

Firefight Houston signing ()
#10 Share

Questioner 1

So, last time you were here, I know that the Mistborn movie had kinda fell through. Any other nibbles, are we gonna see something?

Brandon Sanderson

Any other nibbles? ...So, Mistborn had just fallen through last time. We did resell Mistborn, and I've seen the treatment. So, the steps to getting a film made. Start with them giving me money. *laughter* The important part. Step two is usually a treatment, this is where they take the book and they do, not a full screenplay, but kind of a ten-page summary adaptation of what they're going to cut, what they're going to add, that they will then hand to a screenwriter. Next step would be to give that to the screenwriter that they hire, who they usually have hired, and have them do a screenplay of it. Next step then, generally, is going to people with lots of money and say "Hey, will you fund this?" Conversely, they can go to people who are content-makers, like a director or the talent, so to speak, or a star, and get them attached. So, when one of those happens, it's easier to get the other ones. And then, finally, is a green light. So, you can see, we're right at the beginning again. We had gotten to the screenplay stage last time, but the screenplays were just not that great, and the people who were doing it before were just not very powerful in Hollywood. I love them, they were great guys, but they came to me very early on, and so it was a longshot.

So, the new treatments are very good. I'm hopeful for what's happening there. For other things, we have The Emperor's Soul, in works with DMG. They worked with Marvel on the Iron Man films. They're a part of the funding company for those. We have just sold Steelheart to Fox. Specifically, to the producer and director of Real Steel (which is a great film, if you haven't seen it) and the Night at the Museum movies. And then, we have one more in the works... Legion. We have a Legion television show in the works.

So, as far as I know, the Wheel of Time rights have lapsed, and there's a discussion of what to do with those now. Because the people trying to make a film of those were not able to get a film made. They should have been doing a television show all along, I know, but-- Anyway. So there we are, that's how it stands, and the video game is still kinda spinning its heels as well.

Questioner 1

So, have they optioned the first trilogy, or just the first book? How does that work?

Brandon Sanderson

With Mistborn, they have optioned the entire thing. They basically optioned the whole world. Though, the people who have The Emperor's Soul, it's very fun, because they started to go down the cosmere rabbit hole. Yes, for those who don't know, my epic fantasy books are all connected, and they're all in the same universe. And so, their guy they assigned to it, the studio exec, read the book, and he's like, "Ah, there's some references to other things." And he went and read those, and he went and read those, and now he's read everything. He called me, and he's like, "Uhhhhh...." He's flown out twice to try to get a handle on the whole cosmere thing, what they can put in, what they can't put in. They wanna have a Hoid cameo at the very least, and stuff like that. So that's been very, very fun.

Questioner 2

Will you be able to advise on these movies? Do you have any creative control at all?

Brandon Sanderson

Do I have creative control, or can I advise? Well, in several of the contracts, mostly the Mistborn and the Emperor's Soul one, I have executive producer roles. In Hollywood, executive producer is the throwaway credit, though. That's one that they pat you on the head, bring out out, let you watch, and then they give you, like, a chair with your name on it you can take home or something, I don't know. They've been very easy to work with so far, so I have confidence that they would allow me, and in both contracts we got the requirement that I can come on-set anytime I want to, not just the one time, which is good. And they've taken my advice on the treatments. I am not powerful enough to get anything more than that. You have to be, like, two levels above me before you can really get any influence in Hollywood. Even, like, Tom Clancy, when he was starting, couldn't. JK Rowling could. And people like that. So, if I can get a good film made, and it takes off, I think all future contracts I'll have more influence, but right now I'm just kind of up to what they will let me.

Shadows of Self San Diego signing ()
#12 Share

Questioner

So, the game Mistborn: Birthright, it's been two years now.

Brandon Sanderson

I love the guys who were working on it, but I, if I were you, would consider it vaporware until you hear more. They've had some real troubles with their funding. They're great people who have just not been able to get the game going. They make a lot of easy, quick games for movie tie-ins, this one is *inaudible*, so it's just been a lot harder for them to get going. Again, they're fantastic people, and I hope that they'll get something going about it eventually, but I'm not gonna talk much about it until they do.

So, someone's gonna ask, the movie thing. So, Shawn Levy, the Reckoners, optioned that in June. He did Real Steel, the Richard Matheson story. If you haven't seen that movie, it turned out really well, with Wolverine in it. He also did the Night at the Museum films. And they're working on a screenplay. DMG owns The Emperor's Soul. They were producers on the latest two Iron Man films. They're a Chinese company, they really liked Emperor's Soul, so they came and optioned that from me. The Mistborn books are with the people who have the video game rights. We've combined those together into one right, I gave them a year to work on that. They've been very encouraging on their other work on that, but it's Hollywood, so who knows what will happen. Legion just lapsed, so if you're uncle makes movies, tell him to make Legion, from Brandon. Stormlight is under contract, but I can't say with who yet. So, I think everything novel-wise except for Rithmatist... 'cause somebody optioned the Cosmere. Minus Mistborn. They got really excited by this whole, "Wow, it's a shard universe" thing, which is really hot in Hollywood right now. They're a really good company, but they came to me like, "We can do Marvel with Fantasy," and I'm like, "I'm not gonna say no!" We'll see how it turns out, but that's where we are.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#13 Share

Questioner

Do you have any idea which book of yours might make it to the movie theaters first?

Brandon Sanderson

Which one might make it to the movie theaters first? So right now it's going to be a race because I would say that a lot of things are kind of equal footing, because most of my options that we have for films lapsed last year and then we resold them. So we're kind of starting from scratch on everything. We sold Legion again, we sold Mistborn again, and we sold The Emperor's Soul shortly before.

*crowd ooh's and aah's*

And then we sold Steelheart like on Friday. Steelheart had been optioned and they let it lapse. Mistborn had been and Legion had been, so we've got four new companies basically working on it, but every time we do this my profile as a writer has raised to the point that we get a better crowd, if that makes sense. Like the Steelheart deal I'm really excited about. I love the producer, he's the guy that did...did you guys see Real Steel? Did you ever see that, the Richard Matheson story? The guy who did that. I loved that, I thought it was...it was one of those movies I watched expecting it to be dumb, and it was great. But he also did the Night at the Museum stuff, and things like that, and so I'm really excited about that.

But the Mistborn script treatments are excellent, the best treatments I've gotten. What that means is that's what you write as a producer to give to a screenwriter to then write the screenplay, and then after that you get stars attached, and then after that someone finally gives you money and you make the film. So we're still a long way away, but the treatments are really good.

And then, you know, the guys who have The Emperor's Soul are super enthusiastic. They're DMG, they made the Ironman films with Marvel, they're super enthusiastic and they went down the Cosmere rabbit hole. They bought it and then they're like, let me see this deleted scene about this guy named Hoid. So I gave it to them and they're like, "wait a minute", and they started reading everything. And so they've come back to me and they're like "sooo, um, the Sanderson cinematic universe...". So I don't know what's going to happen with that, but there's lots of discussion about things like that. And they've been talking to the Mistborn guys, and so...

But this is all very new, meaning we're at the preliminary stages of all of it. There's like, nothing I can officially even announce other than "These people have bought these rights, these people have bought these rights". Maybe we'll get something made eventually. I've gotten really close before and it hasn't happened so, who knows.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
#14 Share

Questioner

What would be your dream cast for a Steelheart movie.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not sure if I would have a dream cast. They are who they are in my head. Mostly, I want to be there in the casting meetings, if it's someone I can be "Yeah! It can be them!" then we'll go with that. I don't really have a dream cast.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#15 Share

Questioner

I've heard rumors of a Steelheart movie and/or tv series. Do you have any updates on that?

Brandon Sanderson

Updates, I don't know if there are a lot of updates on Steelheart other than what I've posted. Shawn Levy's company bought the rights, they're a very good company. They made Real Steel, if you ever saw that, Hugh Jackman movie. And they made the Night at the Museum films. And they have bought the rights, and commissioned a screenplay. I haven't seen the screenplay yet. I mean they only started that in July, so it usually takes six months to get a screenplay written. So I'll let you know once I've read it, assuming they tell me I can tell you.

Shadows of Self Edinburgh UK signing ()
#16 Share

Brandon Sanderson

To forestall the other inevitable questions.  Movies have been sold for: Mistborn, Emperor’s Soul, and Steelheart.  They are all in development, none have started filming.  Be skeptical of any film deal until someone starts shooting a camera, okay?  Right?  Just be aware of that, when something starts filming, you can get excited.  Until then, just know that people are paying me lots of money to not make movies from my books.  *laughter*  Which is very nice.

The video game’s kind of just in limbo.  The guys who are working on it--there’s a mistborn video game--they’re great, but they had setback after setback.  So I would, if I were you, not hold my breath on that one.  Maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t.  If it does it’s a happy surprise.

Arched Doorway Interview ()
#17 Share

Rebecca Lovatt

The Reckoners, it's got a lot of a comic book feel with superheroes. Are there any plans at all for that to be adapted to graphic novel or anything?

Brandon Sanderson

Not right now. The graphic novel rights would be owned by the people doing the movie, and if they ever get the movie off the ground then I would say they probably will do a graphic novel. I toyed with graphic novels for many years when I had the original idea for it, but the fun of Steelheart was me trying to take comic book tropes and do them in the novel form. You've seen how movies have taken comic book tropes and turned them into films, and I really have enjoyed that. But they do very different things; it's like its own new genre, the comic book film.

Rebecca Lovatt

I wanted to do the same thing for books, thinking, what are the strengths for a prose narrative as opposed to a more visual storytelling method?

Brandon Sanderson

It's just one of those novels that when you're reading it, it seems like it could be easily adapted and it would suit either.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
#18 Share

Questioner

I was wondering if there was any update on the movies, similar to video games?

Brandon Sanderson

The movies are moving along better. They're taking some time, but they are moving along better. I think, right now the farthest along are going to be Steelheart and Emperor's Soul. 

Questioner

Okay. Are they like in production right now?

Brandon Sanderson

No. They are in screenplays. So, yeah, nothing's really gotten done.

Questioner

Are you writing the screenplays?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm writing the treatments.

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

I don't want to write the screenplays but I can do the treatments.