Following the massive success of Netflix's The Queen's Gambit, co-creator Scott Frank hasn't wasted much time in lining up his follow-up gigs. He's already reportedly developing a new TV miniseries that would reunite him with the increasingly popular Anya Taylor-Joy, and he's now set to make his return to the world of sci-fi for another television project. Frank is working with FX on an adaptation of Mary Doria Russell's award-winning novel The Sparrow, which is going to be a doozy if it all comes together properly.
First published in 1996, The Sparrow follows linguist Father Emilio Sandoz and a group of priests and scientists who are the first people to make legitimate contact with extraterrestrials. They're then part of a secret space mission funded by the Vatican meant to prove that God exists everywhere in the universe. There's no reason to spoil anything else about where the story goes, but suffice to say things don't go amazingly well for Father Sandoz & Co. As much as anyone, Scott Frank is just the kind of talented every-genre screenwriter that could really make magic happen with this long-in-the-waiting adaptation.
The Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of Minority Report and Logan, Scott Frank is set to write all episodes of The Sparrow, according to THR, which will hopefully give the philosophical sci-fi series a unified vision. Before The Queen's Gambit, Frank created Netflix's highly acclaimed and highly brutal western drama Godless, and he also penned the films Get Shorty and Dead Again, and co-wrote Out of Sight and Marley & Me, among others. He's a jack of all trades, and a religion-tethered sci-fi series sounds like as natural a next project as any. If Queen's Gambit caused a cheating spike in online chess matches, just imagine what kind of weirdness The Sparrow might inspire.
Similarly, all installments will be directed by Johan Renck, whose work on HBO's Chernobyl earned him the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, among other honors. Renck also helmed episodes of dramas such as Breaking Bad, Bloodline and Halt and Catch Fire, and was tapped to direct the pilot for HBO's highly anticipated video game adaptation The Last of Us.
For years, attempts were made to bring The Sparrow to audiences as a film, with Brad Pitt set to take on the lead role back in 2006. Author Mary Russel took the film rights back into her own possession in 2012, with AMC going into development on a TV version in 2014. That never materialized obviously, but AMC Studios is indeed on board for the new limited series with Mark Johnson (Better Call Saul, El Camino), along with FX Productions. Scott Frank and Johan Renck will executive produce.
While FX doesn't normally get into science fiction programming all that often, the Disney-owned cabler does have that Alien-based TV series coming from Fargo's Noah Hawley. Here's hoping Scott Frank can help bring more genre-based programming to this and other TV channels, streaming services, and anywhere that sci-fi can exist.
While waiting to hear more about The Sparrow's production, as well as Scott Frank and Anya Taylor-Joy's adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's Laughter in the Dark, head to our Winter and Spring TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are popping up soon.