MIPTV has announced a new development deal. If all things go according to plan, Allan Quatermain will grace television screens in a new 10 part series. For those of you not familiar with adventures of Quatermain, he’s the 1880s literary character that inspired Indiana Jones; the creation of, not mentor. The series is currently clocked at $30 million in order for this action-adventure to be produced in a team up between Sonar Entertainment and Ecosse Films.
When’s the last time you might have heard of this character? Back in 2003 when Sean Connery played the crotchety, bearded adventurer in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Created by H. Rider Haggard in 1885; on a bet; Allan Quatermain is the action hero of King Solomon’s Mines and the subsequent prequels and sequels. Yeah, this was written on a bet between brothers, namely whether or not Haggard could write a novel half as good as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, released in 1883. What resulted was a book that became the year’s best seller.
In fact, due to the success of King Solomon’s Mines, a new genre of storytelling was created called the, “Lost World.” This was the Twilight of its time, and soon writers were coming out of the woodwork with their own teeny romance equivalent. Okay, maybe Jules Verne was responsible for the genre back in 1863 with Journey to the Center of the Earth, but Haggard must have had a better publicist. The Lost World genre stuck and soon other books appeared which were compared to Haggard’s works. Such works included Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Land That Time Forgot, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.
Haggard couldn’t stop there though. Soon the sequels and prequels were cranked out. Allan Quatermain would appear as the protagonist of stories ranging from his younger days at the age of 18, to his older and experienced years at 68. 50 years is a lot of grist for a television series to work with. In fact, I’m pretty sure that they did the same with the Indiana Jones franchise.
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was a television series that went on from 1992 to 1993. The official synopsis seems similar to what the Allan Quatermain storytelling went though.
“The now legendary, almost mythical character of Indiana Jones once had a childhood. Every episode starts out with the elderly man that he is in the 1990’s getting into a specific situation where he has to tell a story from his past. The stories go back to when he was ten years old and on a world tour with his father, and to his late-teens when he fought in World War I.”
This can only be explained through the magic of public domain stories and characters. The only good thing that came from that show was a young Sean Patrick Flannery, who would grow up and kill criminals as a Boondock Saint.
Stewart Till, the CEO of Sonar Entertainment told The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s an incredible character from a range of best-selling books. I read all the books as a child and it is something that many Brits have grown up with. It’s also the kind of high-concept adventure that broadcasters are looking for.”
Though no talent has signed on yet, Till says he has some actors in mind. “There are many British male actors in their early 30s who could play this rugged adventurer.” The only problem I see is how the world may perceive the story and it’s hero. Who’s going to take the chance that they’ll be typecast as an imitation Indiana Jones? Not that it’s true, but it’s all a matter of perception.
Till expects that scripts will be ready in the next few months, while the projected budget for each one hour episode is roughly $3 million dollars. Already there are plans to shoot in Africa. “It is in exotic settings with lost tribes and treasures and African superstitions and big adventures, so its got everything,” said Till.