Skip to main content

‘Percy Jackson’ TV Series Facing the Same Problem Marvel Dealt With for Years

Teens dressed in armor in the woods in Percy Jackson Disney+ series trailer.

Fans of Rick Riordan’s fictional world were cautiously optimistic when Disney+ announced they were working on a TV series adaptation of the original five Percy Jackson novels. The franchise has had a rough history with adaptations, with the first attempt at a movie adaptation resulting in a mess that barely followed the plot of the book.

Yet, readers remained hopeful that if this new series did well, it could pave the way for further adaptations of Riordan’s work, potentially leading to a shared television universe, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but for Riordan’s mythology-based young adult fiction.

Unfortunately, that hope was quickly shattered by the announcement that Netflix had bought the rights to the Kane Chronicles, the spinoff of Percy Jackson that followed the Egyptian equivalent of Percy Jackson, the Kane Siblings. This effectively destroys any hope of a crossover between the two series.

Still, fans were confused. How did this happen?

Well, a fan recently asked Riordan on GoodReads, “Did Disney refuse the pitch for The Kane Chronicles or did Netflix just accepted it first?”

Riordan explained that, “Disney passed on Kane Chronicles multiple times. Netflix showed interest, so we went with them. That happens sometimes. Think X-Men, Spiderman, etc. before the MCU became a thing. Oh, well!”

For backstory, Marvel Comics was near bankruptcy in the early ’90s, which led to them selling off their film rights to different studios. This resulted in the first two iterations of Spider-Man films being made by Sony, and Fox making Fantastic Four and X-Men. Back then, the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy were seen as the teams that only hardcore fans knew, so Marvel maintained those less lucrative rights. How’s that for irony?

Still, the rights issues kept Marvel from using some of their biggest heroes in their movies until they partnered up with Sony for Spider-Man and bought parts of Fox, and now the Percy Jackson universe looks to be similarly fractured instead of connecting as it should be able to.

Issue of rights

What makes the situation even more strange is that Disney shares the publishing rights to the Kane Chronicles with Penguin House, meaning they already had the rights to make a Kane Chronicles series alongside the Percy Jackson series. Instead of making the Kane Chronicles themselves or even paying to maintain rights to the series to see if the Percy Jackson series did well, they allowed Netflix to buy the film/television rights to their franchise.

Of course, the main reason for this is money. Percy Jackson is a bigger name than the Kane Chronicles, and if the show doesn’t do well, Disney+ doesn’t want to risk putting all its eggs in one basket, especially since the streaming service is reportedly losing money due to high production costs.

However, this could be good for the franchise in the long run; instead of trying to make this massive interconnected universe of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and/or other gods, the individual shows will be able to focus on telling the one story they have. It will also be interesting to compare and contrast the adaptions with what Disney+ and Netflix will change. Two competing series may end up being the thing that shows what makes Disney+ different from Netflix. It hopefully won’t be any worse than the movies that came before.

Though, let’s hope Disney at least maintains the rights to the Magnus Chase books; it’ll be an awkward family reunion if Magnus and his cousin from the Percy Jackson books, Annabeth, are owned by different production studios.

(featured image: Disney+)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Kimberly Terasaki is a Creative Writing graduate, fanfiction author, and intersectional feminist. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan. She appreciates all constructive criticism and genuine discussion.