‘The Wheel of Time’ and ‘Twisted Metal’ Creatives Talk Bringing Legacy Franchises to Television at Variety’s Sony FYC Showcase

‘The Wheel of Time’ and ‘Twisted Metal’ Creatives Talk Bringing Legacy Franchises to Television at Variety’s Sony FYC Showcase

When adapting “The Wheel of Time” for Amazon Prime Video, “everything begins and ends with character” for Sony’s head of creative Lauren Stein. “I think with any of these adaptations, whether it’s a game, whether it’s from a series of books, people come to these worlds for character, not for spectacle,” she added. “And the spectacle is really nice to have, but if you’re not connected to someone in the show, you’re not going to stay with it.”

As part of Variety‘s Sony FYC Showcase, Stein was joined by “Outlander” executive producer Maril Davis, “Twisted Metal” showrunner and executive producer Michael Jonathan Smith, “Twisted Metal” production designer Vicotria Paul, “The Wheel of Time” executive producer Justine Gillmer and “The Wheel of Time” actor Daniel Henney to discuss adapting existing IP into a successful television series. Variety senior artisans editor Jazz Tangcay served as moderator for the conversation.

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The first “Wheel of Time” book came out in 1990 and the series has since sold over 100 million copies. So for Gillmer, it was imperative that she “walk a fine line” of staying true to the books for fans, while also creating the best eight-episode seasons possible.

“What we try to do is pull the best bits of story forward that we can…Pull it all together and try to create a cohesive narrative that pulls forward to the idea of where we want to get to at the end of the show,” Gillmer said. “Should we be lucky enough to get to the end of eight seasons, what do we want to say? And that’s what we try to do when we adapt these books into something that is different.”

“Twisted Metal” is another franchise that stems from the late 20th century, with the first game launching on PlayStation in 1995. Showrunner Smith grew up a fan of the vehicular combat series, and when adapting the show years later, he constantly asked himself, “What do I want to see? And what do I want to see in a way that I don’t expect?” One thing he was certain fans wanted to see in the show was “Twisted Metal’s” psychotic clown mascot, Sweet Tooth.

“When we talk about Sweet Tooth, the clown who lights his hair on fire, there are certain things that the fans want to see. They want to see him in those pants, mostly, and with the hair, they want to see the fire, but we didn’t give it to them right away,” Smith explained. “[I’m always asking] what is the core of what [the fans] love about this thing? What is it about it that they love and latch onto? Why are they nostalgic about it? And then how do we recreate it in a way that everyone can enjoy?”

Watch the entire discussion above.

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