Percy Jackson on Disney+ is now a reality, which means long-suffering book fans are feeling a mixture of excitement and anxiety—and for good reason.
If you’ve been in the Percy Jackson fandom for any amount of time, you know the word adaptation can bring about furious stares and whispered hisses. Fox put The Lightning Thief on the big screen in 2010, and it was a complete disaster. There’s a lot wrong with the movie—starting with the fact that it didn’t stay faithful to the source material. (Listen to us talk about the film on Prophecy Radio episode 12.)
The studio tried to rectify that with Sea of Monsters in 2013, and although they course-corrected some of the issues, by then it was too late. The ship had sunk to the bottom of the ocean, and our beloved Percy Jackson wasn’t gonna dive that deep to rescue it.
In the years following, there’s been plenty of talk about rebooting the franchise, though most fans still felt the sting of the last attempt. Would we ever get a new movie? What about a TV show? Even an animated series would be awesome, and it would allow for some aspects of the book to come to life easier than if it were a live-action adaptation.
Then the Fox/Disney merger happened, and our dreams felt a little more tangible. Even Rick had a very dramatic meeting with the gods of Olympus in which he begged for their blessing. And you know what? It worked!
On January 25, 2022, we learned—straight from Rick himself—that the live-action Percy Jackson Disney+ television show had officially gotten the green light.
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) January 25, 2022
For anyone following along closely, this wasn’t exactly shocking news. Rick and Becky Riordan have been extremely open about the process, from initial talks way back in 2019 to their meetings with The Powers That Be at Disney where they said everyone was excited about the project. It’s been a long road, but the path has been paved with positive reactions and encouraging words.
So, no, the news wasn’t shocking. But it was still a relief to get the official go-ahead.
This was the final piece of the puzzle they needed to get underway in earnest. The plan is to enter into production this summer, which means we’ve got a lot of fun stuff ahead of us—casting news, creature designs, stills, trailers, and eventually the show itself.
To say I’m excited about everything to come is the understatement of the century. The Lightning Thief came out in 2005, and while I don’t remember exactly when I started reading this series, I do remember going to Target and seeing it for the first time. I was immediately entranced.
As a kid who’d been obsessed with Greek mythology her whole life (probably thanks to Disney’s Hercules), the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series felt like a dream come true. Sure, I was probably 17 or 18 when I first picked up Lightning Thief, but it wasn’t hard to relate to the thoughts and feelings of these various demigods, even if they were younger than me and fought monsters I’d never encounter.
This summer will mark 17 years since the first book was published and 12 years since that first failed attempt at adapting The Lightning Thief for the big screen. From the moment I first laid eyes on John Rocco’s cover, I’ve collected Percy’s adventures like trophies for my cabinet.
After The Last Olympian, I read the Heroes of Olympus series. And that led to the Trials of Apollo books. I’ve also read the Kane Chronicles, as well as Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. Everything Rick writes turns to gold (but, like, not in a cursed way), and I’m happy to keep adding to my bookshelves.
All of this is to say that I’ve been here for a long time, and I’ve loved Percy Jackson for—quite literally—half of my life. If anyone should be nervous about this adaptation, it’s me. I’ve seen wonderful books get destroyed on screen (The Goblet of Fire being my first major heartbreak), and I know how much it hurts to see someone ruin something you love.
But you know what? I’m not nervous. Not even a little. I’ve decided to get my hopes up.
You can blame Rick for that. As an executive producer, he’s been heavily involved in the process so far, and it’s put my mind at ease. Deviations from the source material are commonplace when adapting a book for the screen, but the Percy Jackson Disney+ show has a built-in safeguard. All those changes will be author-approved. How awesome is that?
Even the first line of the press release puts me at ease: “Disney+ has ordered Percy Jackson and the Olympians, an epic adventure series based on—and closely aligned with—Disney Hyperion’s best-selling book series by award-winning author Rick Riordan with more than 180 million books in print globally.”
Disney is well-aware that the major issue with the last adaptation was that the filmmakers strayed too far from the source material, and they’re committing to doing it right this time. Any changes will likely be the result of extensive conversations and logical reasoning. And at the end of the day, the show will still hit the major beats of the story.
I know a lot can go wrong between now and then, when the show finally hits the streaming platform, but the odds are truly in our favor. Several scripts have been written, Disney is on board, and casting is underway. The Percy Jackson Disney+ series is full of potential energy just waiting to be unleashed. Our only job now is to sit back and be excited.
And you know what? I think I can handle that.
If you want to immerse yourself into the Riordanverse ahead of the Percy Jackson Disney+ series, be sure to check out our podcast Prophecy Radio, where my friend Kristen and I talk about all of Rick Riordan’s projects, new and old, including his imprint Rick Riordan Presents. As longtime fans and journalists with a decade of experience covering this fandom, you better believe we have a lot to say!