Myst is probably a name that – if you’re old enough to remember it – you haven’t heard in a LONG time. That, however, is about to change in a big way, since Hollywood has set its sights on the long-dormant video game franchise, which, back in the ‘90s was a groundbreaking, immersive adventure into a surreal, sometimes-creepy, world.
Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, a production company that’s had a slice of proverbial picture pies like The Matrix Trilogy, The Lego Movie, the Robert Downey Jr.-fronted Sherlock Holmes films, the Ocean’s heist movies and even the Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker solo movie, just acquired the film and television rights to the Myst franchise. Indeed, the company wasted no time announcing ambitious franchise designs for a canon-connected onscreen universe based on the mythology of the classic game, centered on a film project, as well as scripted and unscripted TV series.
Created by brothers Rand and Robyn Miller, and their company, Cyan, Myst debuted in 1993 as a Mac (later Windows) CD ROM adventure game, in which a first-person perspective player navigates the eponymous island, uncovering its mysteries; a task that involves the solving of puzzles. The game offered an experience that we now take for granted in the exploration of an immersive mythical world, though – limited to the technology of the time – in a click-heavy quasi-3D system. While the similarly structured horror game, The 7th Guest, beat it to the punch by five months, Myst is widely credited as a breakthrough in what would eventually become the standard exploration adventure genre that, today, would be commonly exemplified by The Elder Scrolls series (notably its most popular offering, 2011’s Skyrim).
Indeed, Myst would go on to sell over 15 million copies worldwide (it was the all-time best-selling PC game until 2002), spawning five sequels – notably acclaimed 1997 sequel Riven – and a series of mythology-expanding books. The canon – set against the backdrop of a 10,000 year history – centers on explorer Atrus, whose grandmother is a descendant of a lost ancient civilization called the D’ni, who posses the ability to write books that serve as portals to other worlds; an ability that, as it turns out, he inherited, leading to an encounter with a magic book that sends your unnamed player character to the island of Myst, which contains wondrous sights and brain-bending puzzles. Consequently, the game is widely credited as an early example of video games being scene in artistic context.
Village Roadshow will develop and produce the Myst film and television efforts alongside game co-creator Rand Miller and his youngest brother, Ryan Miller, joined by Delve Media’s Isaac Testerman and Yale Rice. The content will be developed across Village Roadshow’s multimedia divisions, ensuring canonical consistency. It’s part of a new company mandate – by controlling shareholder Vine Alternative Investments – to transform into a “broad-spectrum content creator” focused on TV, streaming and other emerging platforms. Thus, with a breadth of games and books in the ether, the company will have plenty of source material with which to work. Of course, there have been previous attempts to bring the franchise to TV, notably with The Amazing Spider-Man producer Matt Tolmach and Divergent writer Evan Daugherty attached to one such project for Legendary Entertainment back in 2015.
We will keep you updated here on the Myst film and television efforts as the news arrives!