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Skydance Media announced on Tuesday a plan to create a live action television version of the Japanese franchise Sword Art Online (SAO) in partnership with Kadowawa Corporation.
SAO is based on the popular series of 22 books by author Reki Kawahara and published by Kadowawa. The series takes place in the near-future and focuses on various virtual reality MMORG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) worlds. Since the first novel was published in 2009, the series collectively has sold more than 19 million print copies worldwide. The books have spawned nine comic adaptations published by Kadowawa, a video game — which has sold nearly 2 million copies and been downloaded more than 9 million times globally since its 2013 release — and two anime television series adaptations.
Skydance Media, an independent production company, obtained the global live action rights to create an ongoing television series. Laeta Kalogridis (Avatar, Terminator Genisys, White House Down) will be the main writer and executive producer on the series. Kalogridis has an exclusive ‘first-look’ and consulting deal with Skydance.
“For years I have been inspired by the inventive and masterful storytelling of the SAO franchise,” Kalogridis said. “I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to work with such talented partners to bring this cutting-edge yet timeless story to a new format at Skydance.”
In addition to her work with Sword Art Online, Kalogridis is also the lead writer and executive producer for Altered Carbon, a Skydance series for Netflix.
“At Skydance we are in the business of world-building and SAO is a massive pop-culture phenomenon from which we plan to launch a full-scale and wide-ranging set of live-action franchise extensions across our business verticals, beginning with television,” Skydance Media CEO Ellison said. “We look forward to working alongside Laeta, Reki Kawahara and the teams at Kadowawa and Aniplex to build out a deeply immersive new universe of SAO in an authentic way that honors its well-established fan base around the globe.”
A network as not been announced for the television series, though anime versions of Sword Art Online have been available on Netflix for North America audiences since 2014. In addition to the television series, there are also plans for an additional virtual reality experience along with the new show for fans of the franchise.