Skydance Television has entered into a multi-year overall agreement with writer-producers Patrick Massett and John Zinman.
The company currently has several projects in development with the Gold co-writers, including the first live-action TV series for Sword Art Online (SAO), the popular Japanese novel and anime franchise to which Skydance acquired the global rights last year. Massett and Zinman will serve as writers, showrunners, and executive producers on the Skydance series.
Laeta Kalogridis, alongside Massett and Zinman, will write the pilot episode and serve as an executive producer on the SAO series alongside Skydance chief David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Marcy Ross. Kalogridis, who has an exclusive overall deal at Skydance, first introduced Ellison to the property and the world of SAO.
Skydance’s SAO series will follow brilliant young beta tester Kirito and his group of friends when they are trapped, along with 10,000 other people, in a next-generation virtual reality online role-playing game filled with swordfighting, monsters, and mystery.
Massett and Zinman’s television careers began with Veritas: The Quest at ABC, which they co-created and served on as executive producers before going on to serve as co-executive producers on the Emmy-winning Friday Night Lights at NBC, The Chicago Code at FOX, and Last Resort at ABC. The duo then served as co-executive producers on The Blacklist at NBC.
Their most recent TV credit includes serving as executive producers and showrunners at NBC’s The Player. The pair got their start in film by co-writing Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Gold opened in January. Feature projects Resistance and Sea Of Thunder are in pre-production.
“Patrick and John have shown incredible range in their storytelling capabilities, from subtle character drama to big, world-building action, and we are beyond fortunate that they have joined the Skydance family,” Skydance Television president Marcy Ross said. “We’re already deep in development with Patrick, John, and Laeta on our larger-than-life Skydance SAO series, in which we aim not only to satisfy the franchise’s enthusiastic sci-fi and anime fan base but also to appeal to new TV audiences the world over.”
Massett and Zinman said: “The fantastical world of SAO offers an unparalleled opportunity to tell stories that resonate on both an epic and human scale. We couldn’t ask for better partners than Skydance and Laeta to help us bring this global pop culture phenomenon to new life on television.”
Skydance’s overall and first-look deals include pacts with Sam Raimi, Marti Noxon, Laeta Kalogridis, Michael B Jordan, Bonnie Curtis, and Julie Lynn.