Four years ago came the surprising news that Bradley Cooper had written, on spec, an adaptation of Dan Simmons' astonishing sci-fi novel Hyperion and was developing it with producer Graham King and Warner Bros. That iteration of the project ultimately came to nothing, but Cooper and King have now regrouped and repurposed Hyperion as an "event series" for SyFy. The pair will act as executive producers along with Todd Phillips, while Boardwalk Empire's Itamar Moses has taken over the writing duties.
The Hyperion sequence, modelled on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and channelling Boccaccio and Keats, deals with an intergalactic war against the titular planet, which does a nice line in energy trees, time-travelling artefacts and dangerous beasties (namely the enigmatic and terrifying Shrike). It follows seven pilgrims, alternately taking each of their viewpoints, as they undertake a journey to end the conflict and resolve their own personal dramas.
But that's a nutshell far too small for the job, and the scale of the project, with its multiple intertwining plot strands and Big Themes, has had Hyperion in development hell for a number of years. King picked up the rights and started setting the film up at Warner Bros. in 2008. Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Dr. Strange) came aboard as director in early 2009, with Trevor Sands taking a crack at the screenplay by attempting to somehow narrow the focus.
That, we'd suggest, was never going to work given the sheer size of Simmons' material. An episodic adaptation, on a channel recently trying to prove its mettle beyond novelty campfests like Sharknado, makes much more sense.
“It is an absolute honour to enter into the world created by Dan Simmons that is arguably one of the greatest works of science fiction, and help realise it for television audiences,” says Cooper.
“As Syfy continues to forge important partnerships with award-winning talent on and off screen, this powerhouse team led by Bradley Cooper, Graham King and Todd Phillips brings an extraordinary track record in producing entertainment of the highest creative ambition," says SyFy's Dave Howe. "Epitomising the gold standard of science fiction story-telling, Hyperion tackles smart and provocative themes that help define Syfy’s development vision.”
There's no indication yet of whether Cooper will appear in front of the camera or of who will direct (Cooper has actually, in the past, said he'd like to do that himself). With Hyperion only the first in a four novel sequence, however (it's followed by The Fall Of Hyperion, Endymion, and The Rise Of Endymion) this is something that could potentially run and run.