It's one of the biggest game franchises of all time, so it's amazing that it's taken someone like Voyage of the Dawn Treader's producer Mark Johnson this long to pick up the rights to make a Myst movie. It's an interesting move, given that Myst was such a 90s phenomenon in the gaming world. Better late than never?
More then 12 million people pointed and clicked their way around Myst and its sequels, before The Sims ousted it as the most successful game series of all time in 2002. The first game, released for Mac in 1993 (and eventually to everything else), saw the player as The Stranger, who travels to Myst Island through a magical book, and must solve the mystery, via laborious exploration of static screens and interrogation of hidden characters, of who killed the sorceror Atrus (and whether he's actually dead).
Sequels saw The Stranger searching for Atrus' wife (Riven); pursuing a thief who stole a world (Exile); tracking down Atrus' daughter (Revelation, which starred franchise fan Brad Dourif); and reviving Atrus' race, known as the D'ni (End of Ages). There was an attempt at a Myst MMORG in 2007, but the servers were shut down in 2008.
Myst's main character was arguably the eerily empty gameworld itself; a vast, atmospheric, slightly steampunky set of fantasy landscapes, beautifully rendered for their time. The games were not, to say the least, action-packed, which makes them a tricky prospect for film adaptation. Our immediate vision of a Myst movie is something like The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes.
Intriguingly then, the producers are looking to the wider franchise for the hook: specifically a spin-off trilogy of novelisations by British sci-fi author David Wingrove, which filled in the background to the games.
Adrian Vanderbosch, of production company Mysteria (who are working with Johnson and his cohort Hunt Lowry) says, "Our aim with this project is to stretch the genres it operated within, much like the source material did. It is such an innovative property, and by utilizing the novels as our primary resource, we have the opportunity to offer audiences the essence of Myst without being limited only to the famous island of the first game. Our focus has always been on creating an entirely new visual experience driven by engaging characters and an epic narrative."
Johnson hopes that Myst will be as distinctive an on-screen world as Narnia or Middle Earth. The project is currently out to writers.