Emily Fritz | A&E Editor
Demigod Percy Jackson has been an active hero since his debut in Rick Riordan’s 2005 young-adult novel, “The Lightning Thief.”
Since then, Riordan has finished Percy’s original story arc in the five-book series and has included him in the next five-book “Heroes of Olympus” series as well as his most recent 2023 novel, “The Chalice of the Gods.”
Although the cult classic reached peak popularity during its first decade, the characters have survived numerous plights and trials from various corners of Roman and Greek mythology, in addition to outlasting two regretful movie adaptations in 2010 and 2013.
“My feeling was always that television was the better format for ‘Percy,’ because it allows us a larger canvas to tell more of the story,” Riordan told Variety, “and to be more faithful to the source material, which is what the fans of the books really would love to see.”
Now, Riordan is partnering with streaming giant Disney+ to release a book-to-show adaptation that will boast a highly-anticipated two episode premiere on Dec. 20.
Fans who were originally disappointed by the film directed by Chris Columbus are eagerly awaiting this longer, more detail-oriented attempt to tell the story of Percy Jackson.
Columbus’ rendition was littered with mistakes and miscasts, as is frequent with page-to-screen adaptations. The titular character, who is age 12 at the beginning of the book series, was portrayed by then-17-year-old Logan Lerman. In the Disney+ attempt, Percy Jackson will be portrayed by Walker Scobell, who was 13 at the time of filming.
“He’s got that snarky attitude, but he’s also very sincere,” Riordan said. “Did I care that [Walker’s] hair is a different color than what is described in the book? Not at all. He just felt like Percy.”
Likewise, in the new rendition, Leah Jeffries will play the Athenean demigod, Annabeth Chase.
The more recent casting choice led to controversy that echoed Halle Bailey’s casting in 2023 “The Little Mermaid,” since the original story’s adaptation did not depict the character as Black.
“I have been clear, as the author, that I was looking for the best actors to inhabit and bring to life the personalities of these characters, and that physical appearance was secondary for me. We did that. We took a year to do this process thoroughly and find the best of the best,” Riordan wrote on his website. “This trio is the best. Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase.”
Aryan Simhardi will portray Grover, the trio’s guardian satyr.
“Does he look exactly like I describe him in the book? No. That doesn’t matter,” Riordan said.
Because the revival has been met with such anticipation, fans and cast alike are anxiously waiting for the show to drop in December.
“I was really excited, but I was a little bit nervous too. I didn’t want to let anybody down, you know. It’s a massive fanbase,” Scobell said to PEOPLE in May of 2022.
“The North Star in the development process was to honor the books and Rick’s vision,” Karey Burke, president of Disney’s 20th Television, told Variety. “And secondarily, to have the show live alongside the worlds created by our sister studios at Lucasfilm and Marvel. We really wanted to spare no expense to make sure that this series felt as big and imaginative.”
The budget for the series is rumored to fall between $12 million and $15 million. Though the numbers are unconfirmed by Disney, the theoretical budget is similar to that of “The Mandolorian,” the popular “Star Wars” show.
The generous budget implies that the effects of the show will far exceed those of Columbus’ movies.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been in a development process where you’re talking about fans,” said Dan Shotz, co-producer to John Steinberg.
“We wanted to protect the things that fans didn’t get to see in the movies and wanted to experience from the books. At the same time, we need to separate it from that and say, ‘Why is this a story we want to tell?’”