We’re going deep into the Dork Forest for this one. Lin-Manuel Miranda, human sunbeam and creator of Hamilton, is going to produce an adaptation of The Kingkiller Chronicle, a fantasy novel series by Patrick Rothfuss. Sounds kind of badass, right? “Kingkiller” kind of sounds like “Kingslayer”, so maybe this is like a Game of Thrones thing? Yes, if Game of Thrones included less brutal murders and more musical numbers. The Kingkiller Chronicle is about a singing minstrel who quit adventuring to run an inn. It’s really, REALLY nerdy.
So I guess it makes sense that the world’s #1 theater dork is bringing it to the screen. Miranda—a big fan of the books—is being tapped as the “creative producer” of the project, which will include both film and TV iterations. Ron Howard wanted to do something similar with Stephen King’s Dark Tower, but for now that’s just a movie. These big fantasy worlds certainly have the space to span multi-platform storytelling but the problem is the audience. Even the highest rated TV shows pull less than half the domestic audience of a blockbuster, which isn’t even accounting for foreign audiences who might not have access to the TV show. So you have to be judicious about which information is going where, and what stories you’re telling in which sphere.
Kingkiller is going to try and go the Marvel route, with the feature films telling the central story of Kvothe, the retired minstrel hero, while the TV show(s) “expand on the world outside the books”. (Ask Marvel how this model is working—it isn’t.) Uniting all of it will be original music from Miranda, who is going to serve as composer and write the songs. Right now it doesn’t sound like he’ll be involved as an actor, though there is apparently an option for him to participate in potential stage versions, too. Boy, they are really banking on Kingkiller being a phenomenon. I think there’s a limit to how much fantasy people will accept in mainstream entertainment, but you do you.
All this is coming from Lionsgate, who is desperate to launch a new franchise after The Hunger Games wrapped up. They’ve doubled-down on John Wick—good call—and they’re launching Power Rangers next year—good luck—but this is their first stab at what is basically a cinematic universe. They could a lot worse than putting Lin-Manuel Miranda in charge of setting the tone. (Just look at DC Films to see what happens when you pick the wrong tone.) Whatever ends up happening with The Kingkiller Chronicle, at least we’ll get some new Miranda music out of it. I actually want to hear what an epic fantasy battle ode by Lin-Manuel Miranda sounds like.