Michael Matthews will direct Disney’s Merlin, an adaptation of T.A. Barron’s novel series centered around King Arthur’s mentor, per Deadline. Matthews is best known for having helmed last year’s Love and Monsters, starring Dylan O’Brien. He has also directed the 2017 Neo-Western Five Fingers for Marseilles.
Merlin, which is still in early development, is produced by Gil Netter, with Chris Weitz having penned the latest draft of the script. The novel series tells the origin story of Merlin, before he became a mentor-figure to King Arthur. Previously, Merlin has appeared as a guide to a young Arthur in Disney‘s 1963 animated feature film, The Sword in the Stone.
A composite character originally, Merlin has recently been played on screen by Brian Gleeson in 2019’s Hellboy, Stanley Tucci in Transformers: The Last Knight, and Patrick Stewart in The Kid Who Would Be King. Gary Oldman was supposed to play Merlin, Collider learned exclusively last year, in a canceled trilogy that would’ve been directed by David Dobkin. Ridley Scott was originally attached to the project, but had to leave due to his busy schedule.
With Love and Monsters, Matthews displayed a flair for low-key CGI, quest-based storytelling, and large-scale world-building, all of which will presumably come in handy while directing a movie about Merlin.
However, the Arthurian legends haven’t exactly been setting the box office on fire. In addition to Guy Ritchie’s notorious bomb King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Joe Cornish’s The Kid Who Would Be King, Antoine Fuqua directed the all-but-forgotten King Arthur, which reimagined the character as a Roman soldier. And despite stellar reviews, director David Lowery’s The Green Knight, which also featured Merlin, by the way, was barely able to recover its budget theatrically.
It remains to be seen if Disney can put a fresh spin on these tales. There is currently no release date for Disney‘s Merlin.