Village Roadshow Entertainment Group announced today that it has acquired the film and TV rights to the Myst franchise of puzzle adventure games. The plan is to “rely on and expand upon the game’s existing mythology to develop a multi-platform universe,” including films and television shows, according to a press release.
Myst is owned and published by Cyan Worlds, headquartered in Mead, Wash., and was created by Rand and Robyn Miller. The current plan is for Rand Miller to co-produce Myst content alongside Village and with his brother Ryan, as well as Isaac Testerman and Yale Rice from the Bend, Oregon-based film production agency Delve Media (Shark Week).
The original game, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, changed the landscape of video games forever. It was a major factor in the consumer adoption of CD-ROM drives, shaped the adventure genre around itself, and was the best-selling PC game of all time until 2002. Myst led to multiple successful sequels (between four and seven, depending on who you ask), several spinoffs, a series of novels, and a regular fan convention called Mysterium.
Previous attempts to adapt Myst into other media include a short-lived collaboration with Disney to open a Myst-based theme park, and a planned television show by Legendary that’s been in and out of development hell since late 2014.
“We’re excited to get involved with telling a part of Myst’s story that is new, and in a more traditional medium,” said Rand Miller, CEO of Cyan Worlds, in an email to GeekWire. “The Legendary deal was over a few years ago. It was when that wrapped that we decided to be much more involved in the TV/movie aspect — taking some time to develop a part of the Myst story that we were really excited about.”
The “existing mythology” of Myst is a surprisingly complicated subject. Played in first-person perspective, the games and novels cover the events that surround Atrus, the last descendant of the ancient D’ni civilization, and his struggles with various power-hungry members of his immediate family. The D’ni, who came to Earth millennia ago and made their home underneath what would eventually become New Mexico, held the secret to creating “linking books,” which can transport people to a series of other worlds known as Ages. The player takes the role of a nameless, voiceless Stranger, who stumbles into the middle of Atrus’ problems by accident and ends up helping to resolve them.
Village Roadshow’s acquisition of the rights to Myst is part of a larger move by the company, which has traditionally focused on producing and financing major motion pictures (such as the Matrix trilogy, the Happy Feet series, and this fall’s Joker), toward transforming into a “broad-spectrum content creator.” This coincides with the appointment of new CEO Steve Mosko late last year, formerly of Sony Television, which was largely seen as an indication that the company was planning a pivot to begin producing television and streaming shows.
Updated with comment from Cyan Worlds CEO Rand Miller.