10:00 am EDT, February 22, 2019

‘Percy Jackson’ movies despised by Rick Riordan, author contemplates reboot

In case you're still wondering, the author really doesn't like the adaptations.

Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan has written a letter to explain why teachers shouldn’t be showing the Percy Jackson movies in their classrooms, and has wondered if Disney could do a better job with a Percy Jackson reboot.

Riordan has been a long-time opponent of both movies based off his Percy Jackson books, making clear, time and time again, that he does not, nor will he ever, have anything to do with them. He seems more interested in moving on to a reboot, should a studio be interested.

Though the first film found mild success (enough to make a sequel, at least), the second one was not strong enough to warrant Percy Jackson 3. There are five books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians saga, so while there was plenty of source material, there wasn’t enough interest in the adaptations to continue the movie series.

Percy Jackson movies don’t sit well with author Rick Riodan

Percy Jackson movies

Following a tweet from a teacher showing Sea of Monsters in her classroom, Riordan wrote an open letter to all teachers about why they should not, under any circumstance, show the Percy Jackson movies to their students.

“No. Stop. Please. No class deserves such a punishment. I mourn the loss of perfectly good classroom time,” he wrote in a now-deleted tweet on March 25, 2016.

In a longer letter he wrote about some alternative activities that are better than watching the Percy Jackson movies:

Dear Teacher,

Hi! I am so grateful that you are teaching Greek mythology to your kids and maybe reading my books with them. I hope it goes well! If you want some lesson plan ideas I have a ton of free stuff on my website, mostly pulled from my own fifteen years as a middle school teacher.

Now a plea: Please, for the love of multiple intelligences, DON’T show those “Percy Jackson” movies (ironic quotes intentional) in your classroom for a compare-contrast lesson or, gods forbid, a “reward” at the end of your unit. No group of students deserves to be subjected to that sort of mind-numbing punishment. The movies’ educational value is exactly zero. A better use of classroom time would be… well, pretty much anything, including staring at the second hand of the clock for fifty minutes or having a locker clean-out day.

If you need a break and are using the movie so you can have time to grade papers, hey, I totally get that. I was a teacher for a long time! May I suggest Clash of the Titans, or the cheesy old 1960s version of Jason and the Argonauts, or heck, even the animated Hercules from Disney, as bad as it is. Those movies have plenty of things to compare and contrast with the actual Greek myths. But my heart breaks every time I hear that classroom time is being thrown away watching those vapid Percy Jackson adaptations.

Maybe the kids want to watch them on their own. Fine. Whatever. Personally, I would rather have my teeth pulled with no anesthesia, but to each his or her own. Spending class time time on those movies, though? I’ve justified a lot of things in my years as a teacher. Once I did a barbecue pit sacrifice of prayers to the Greek gods with my sixth graders. Once I taught the kids a traditional Zulu game by rolling watermelons down a hill and spearing them with broomsticks. We took fencing classes when we studied Shakespeare, reenacted the entire Epic of Gilgamesh, and, yes, we watched some pretty great movies from time to time. But I can think of zero justification for watching the adaptations of my books as part of a school curriculum. (And please, don’t call them my movies. They are in no way mine.)

Thanks for listening. I hope you have a great school year. I hope your kids get excited about reading. And I hope you’ll consider this author’s plea. The kids don’t need classroom time to learn that movies can be really, really bad. They’ll find that out on their own!

Yours truly,

Rick Riordan

In the time since this open letter was published in 2016, Riordan has talked about his sentiments regarding the movies time and time again, although his stance has remained the same.

He wrote in another now deleted tweet on March 30, 2017:

Sees huge book deal announced for debut author.
“I am so excited for you!”
Sees who optioned the film rights.
“I am so, so sorry.”

In December 2017, he wrote about about the Fox-Disney merger and what it meant for a Percy Jackson reboot. Though he had no more information than he had previously, he did sound hopeful about the idea that Percy Jackson would be “coming home” to Disney. Read his full thoughts.

More recently, Riordan has said that he feels lucky enough to have had the opportunity to complain about a bad adaptation of his books, but it’s also clear that he’s still tired of fielding questions about a pair of movies he had no influence over despite having repeatedly talked about his lack of involvement.

For those who are interested in seeing other Rick Riordan series adapted for film or television, rest assured that the author has not been completely turned off by the idea despite his dislike of the two movies that were already made, though there’s been no luck so far getting his other books optioned.

Is a Percy Jackson movie reboot from Disney in the works?

Riordan tweeted on Thursday, November 15, asking fans if they’d want the same team who made the ill-fated Percy Jackson movies to reboot the series or if they’d want someone new to take it over.

Riordan stresses that this is a completely hypothetical scenario and is purely wishful thinking on his part. He has no control over what Fox/Disney does and has no inside information.

That being said, I’m sure there are rumors about Percy Jackson getting rebooted, some of which he’s more privy to than the average person. His books set in the Percy Jackson universe (and those set adjacent to it, like Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard) are wildly popular, and Fox/Disney would be crazy not to look into another way of cashing in on that success. And in this era of Streaming Wars, one wonders if Disney’s upcoming streaming service Disney+ might want a Percy Jackson series.

The best part is, Riordan seems to be rooting for a faithful reboot for the benefit of the fans. He knows how disappointed many of them were in the two movies that were released, when in fact it should have been an exciting experience to see one of your favorite books come to life.

As a matter of fact, and despite the actual tweet only having less than 5,000 likes as of this writing, the poll has nearly 40,000 votes, 93% of which are in favor of having a new team tackle a Disney-led reboot.

Despite Riordan being quite open about his dislike of the movies, we never knew the exact details of why exactly he didn’t approve of them — until now.

In another tweet the following day, November 16, Riordan linked to a blog post in which he shares extracts from two emails he sent to the producers of Lightning Thief in 2009. Fair warning, though: He doesn’t pull any punches.

As you can tell, Riordan is — understandably — passionate about and frustrated by what’s going on with the movie. The producers were kind enough to reach out to him for his advice, which he gives plenty of. He is not unreasonable, and in fact states several instances where he knows details in the book must be altered or removed in order to make a better film.

But he also cites plenty of areas where he feels — as both a teacher and a writer — the script is lazy. He even gives them 12 pages of improvements.

To be fair, I’m sure the producers and the directors had their own vision for the movie. Critique is also never easy. I don’t want to put down anyone involved in those movies because they all had jobs to do and they did them to the best of their ability. Making a movie is a complex endeavor where you must marry creativity with practicality. It is not easy.

Moving forward, however, I hope if there is a Percy Jackson reboot that Riordan is brought on in a more integral role. He cites Harry Potter’s success in his emails, and it’s clear that keeping J.K. Rowling involved in the process over the course of the franchise was the smart move. Keeping Riordan involved in any future Percy Jackson television show or movie will only help unite the fandom behind these films.

Case in point: The Lightning Thief musical has seen a fair amount of success, and I’m sure more than just a few tickets were sold because Riordan has endorsed the play.

But remember, as exciting as all of this is, these talks are strictly hypothetical. That being said, as fans continue to discuss how they wish there were a faithful adaptation (particularly as a series instead of a movie franchise), it would make sense for Hollywood to listen and begin working on something that will ultimately please Percy Jackson readers.

How do you feel about Rick Riordan’s attitude regarding the ‘Percy Jackson’ movies?

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