After years of teases and dead ends, we might yet get an adaptation of John Scalzi’s 2006 military science fiction novel Old Man’s War. Deadline reports that Netflix has optioned the book to develop as a film, with Scalzi coming on board as an executive producer.
Scalzi’s fans have been down this path before, though. Paramount Pictures previously optioned the novel and its sequels in 2011, with Wolfgang Petersen attached to direct. The Syfy Channel began developing the series in 2014. Both projects petered out. Still, Scalzi tells The Verge he’s optimistic about the project, pointing to Netflix’s recent track record with genre stories like Stranger Things and the recent Stephen King adaptation 1922, plus Altered Carbon, which is on the way. “It seems to be a place where they are putting a premium on getting good stuff and doing it in a way that really lets creators speak to audiences,” he says. “I think it does have a really good chance of being an adaptation of the books that people are going to respond to.”
Set in a far future, Old Man’s War follows 75-year-old John Perry who joins the Colonial Defense Forces. Recruits have their minds uploaded into cloned, upgraded bodies, which are trained and sent out to serve. Perry works his way up through the ranks and participates in a number of battles against a variety of alien races, as humanity works to establish a toehold in the galaxy.
If Netflix goes through with its adaptation of Old Man’s War, the streaming service has plenty of options for sequels. Scalzi continued Perry’s adventures in the novels The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, and Zoe’s Tale, and wrote two additional books set in the same universe: The Human Division and The End of All Things. “There’s a whole universe there,” Scalzi says, “if the first movie does well, there’s no reason why we can’t look at the universe as a whole, not just what’s on the pages, but what’s between the lines.”
That entire universe of content could be incredibly appealing to a streaming service like Netflix. As other services enter the streaming marketplace — ranging from Disney’s planned service to MGM’s Stargate-specific platform — they’ve realized that they need to develop their own libraries of exclusive content to entice viewers to sign up. Netflix says it’s intending to spend around $8 billion in 2018, and Scalzi’s series could provide Netflix with a solid science fiction franchise with the potential for room to grow.