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Dan Simmons’ Hyperion To Get The Big Screen Treatment

[Via Cinematical]

Yesterday, Warner Bros. announced they had greenlit a movie adaptation of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos (Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion).

My first reaction to hearing this was, “Wow! Awesome!” But on further reflection, I have to ask, “How in the hell are they going to do that without gutting the story?”

There is a lot of story in those two books, I don’t see how you can make a comprehensible movie that comes in at even 2 hours out of it, short of removing much that makes the novels so good. I’m guessing that most of the ‘backstory’, i.e. – the entire first novel, will most likely be condensed into either short flashbacks or, worse still, a couple of lines of dialog.

This sounds like something that deserves either a series of films, or even a mini-series on TV. One film just doesn’t seem to cut it. Still, think of all the cool stuff that we’ll get to see: the Time Tombs, the Shrike, the Labyrinth, the Ousters, and the Farcasters, just to name a few. Then there’s all the SF-nal goodness that I really like that may have to be removed to make it palatable for general audiences. There is a lot of heavy metaphysics in these books, plus ruminations on A.I., U.I., quantum physics and such. How in the world can they pare this down?

Just thinking here, but, to me, these books fall in the category of “I’d love to see a movie of them, but they’re probably better off not ever being a movie”. Comments?

But it’s never too early to start the casting game! Who gets to play:

The Consul

Brawne Lamia

Sol Weintraub and his daughter Rachel

Marting Silenus

Colonel Kassad

Father Hoyt

Have at it!

About JP Frantz (2323 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

15 Comments on Dan Simmons’ Hyperion To Get The Big Screen Treatment

  1. I read HYPERION my final year at Northern Michigan University. It is easily one of my top five favorite science fiction books of all time. I agree that to cover the material correctly you need at least 2 films. Speaking of books being made into films, will a film be made based on his ALTERED CARBON novel?

  2. Great book… but in the hands of Warner Bros.?!?! (shudder)

    The imagery will survive… maybe…

    The story? Not so much.

    “What is it your are trying to tell me Trent?” -Barry Meyer, CEO, Warner Bros.

  3. @Jim Hall

    Altered Carbon movie is already underway, set for a 2009 release. It is written by Richard K. Morgan, not Dan Simmons.

    As for Hyperion – no way it makes it on screen without being horrifyingly altered. We’ll get to see the cool stuff – but I have severe doubts that the story will come along with it in any substantial way.:(

  4. at a signing a few years ago, Simmons implied that Scorsese wanted to direct with DeCaprio starring. I really don’t see that myself, but who knows.

  5. As much as I love these books, There is a LOT of stuff from Fall Of that could be cut for a film: the multiple glimpses of the future, the assorted characters going on walkabouts across the worlds, the protracted War Room sequences. The trick to making it work as a film would be incorperating the 6 pilgrims’ tales into the plot. Each tale could certainly be shortened. If they adapted it as a two-parter (like Kill Bill) with flshbacks scattered throughout it MIGHT work.

    What am I saying? It’s Hollywood. Of course it will suck!

  6. Matte Lozenge // April 4, 2008 at 6:04 pm //

    The only good I can see coming out of this is that maybe they’ll reissue the original novels in hardback format – which have been out of print for 18 years. A shameful situation for universally recognized classics.

    Of course Hollywood will stomp into the mud everything that makes these novels masterpieces – the themes of morality, identity, poetry, ecology, responsibility, relationship with God, justice – all that will be jettisoned like useless ballast. Even the exotic and charming Worldweb will be reduced to battering viewers with George Lucas-like speeding aircar chases.


    If you doubt this, then name one major Hollywood director who has done justice to any classic science fiction story or novel in the past 30 years. The best we got was Spielberg’s A.I., and that collapsed as soon as it moved away from the original Kubrick vision.

    This is a job for independents who have the courage to rise far above the lowest common denominator.

  7. “What am I saying? It’s Hollywood. Of course it will suck!”

    You had me going there for a minute Jeff. I thought the pod people had come and replaced you. But you came through at the end. My faith in you is restored! 🙂

    The more I think about this, the more I want to go back and re-read the book to get the ‘real’ story, not the Hollywood craptastic version. I have no faith at all in a Hollywood version.

  8. Matte Lozenge // April 4, 2008 at 6:31 pm //

    The guy who was tapped to write the screenplay is Trevor Sands. Here’s a short film that Sands wrote, directed and edited called INSiDE. It’s a good short, with a “Heroes” vibe except without super powers.

    Sands also worked on what must have been about the tenth rewrite of the “Six Billion Dollar Man” remake script.

    I have endless faith that Hollywood will screw up this project.

  9. Joe Iriarte // April 4, 2008 at 7:27 pm //

    “Just thinking here, but, to me, these books fall in the category of ‘I’d love to see a movie of them, but they’re probably better off not ever being a movie.'”


  10. I think that the Endymion books would make a better film, as long as the writers didn’t ‘tone down’ the religious aspects.

    Talking of books that should never, could never, be made into a film; I’m reading Ink at the moment, Hal Duncan’s follow up to Vellum. Enjoying it immensely, but it’s difficult enough keeping up with the jumping around in book form, let alone imagining it as a film.

  11. They won’t gut the story, they’ll just re-imagine it so that it features a gang of close buddies facing an uphill, desperate struggle against gun-totin’ enemies as they race for the treasure. There’ll be a computer virus, car chases and lots of nice special effects to keep the hard of thinking glued to their chairs. Although that could be the sticky popcorn.

    I just finished reading the books (again) a couple of weeks ago, and if they include all the ‘bad church, evil church’ plot strands in the movie I’ll eat a chocolate hat.

    How are they going to handle six very long flashbacks? They won’t! Make them all lotto winners with a single chance to see the Shrike … IF they don’t get voted off first.

    It’s a winner, I tell you.

  12. Like Dune, Hyperion would do better in a quality mini-series format than as a feature-length movie. Just the first book alone practically begs for a serialized format.

  13. How sure are you that WB would be serious in adapting a (non-Phillip K. Dick) SF novel that hasn’t been done onscreen before – and ACTUALLY do justice to it!!! I’m also apprehensive that studio hands with their eyes on the b.o would just water this down to a platform for cheesy FX and fanboy tittilation.

    I think it should be better off as a anime project to be undertaken by Gonzo or any Japanese animation studio with similar ambitions.

  14. The Hyperion books were one of my favourite stories (SF or otherwise), so reading this news gives me pretty mixed feelings. I’d hate to see Hollywood hose it, and, let’s face it, they probably will. But, to be fair, once in a blue moon a reasonably faithful adaptation does come along – LOTR was done very well. I think Hyperion is too big for a single film, or even a trilogy. As others have said, to be done properly, it would have to be a mini-series, or even single-season series. Maybe something like what HBO has in store for Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire.

    But to jump into JP’s casting challenge, here are my picks:

    Martin Silenus – Danny Devito

    Father Hoyt – Edward Norton

    Colonel Kassad – Oded Fehr

    The Consul – Nathan Fillion or John Cusack

    Brawne Lamia – Rosario Dawson

    Sol Weintraub – Gene Wilder (don’t believe he could pull it off? Check out his performance in Murder in a Small Town)

    Father Dure – Robert Duval or Al Pacino

    Het Masteen – Chow Yun Fat

    Meina Gladstone – Helen Mirren or Lauren Becall

    John Keats – Jamie Bamber

    I still haven’t quite figured out who I’d cast as Rachel or Sad King Billy.

  15. Be sure to include at least 5 different actors for Rachel in this movie…

    I’m pretty sure thats going to be a tough one 😛

    Too bad theyre just raping good stories in Big Screen crap.

    Can’t writers just learn to write again?

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