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Mystifying! Myst TV and movie adaptations hope to puzzle out a shared universe

By Jacob Oller
Myst V: End of Ages screenshot

Talk of bringing the labyrinthine, world-hopping fantasy/puzzle series Myst to the screen has been around since 2002. Films have collapsed; miniseries have fizzled out. Legendary — the company behind adaptations Warcraft and Pokémon Detective Pikachu — couldn’t bring the successful series of magical books and mysterious realms to life, even with Hulu behind it. Now a new contender is going to try its hand at the job, and it’s aiming as big as possible.

Village Roadshow Entertainment Group has a shared universe in mind for the point-and-click Myst series, and it just purchased the franchise’s film and TV rights. That’s the group producing the serious, R-rated Joker, if its genre bona fides were in question. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the company will develop content both scripted and unscripted based on the series with a team composed of Myst co-creator Rand Miller, his brother Ryan (who also played a part in Myst's long legacy), and filmmakers Isaac Testerman and Yale Rice, who have mostly done documentary work so far.

That experience may help contribute to the unscripted portion of the universe—but where does that leave the expansive fictional world of the D'ni and mystical islands? The timeline of the five-game series (six if you count Uru: Ages Beyond Myst) certainly has the breadth for multiple shows, movies, and more. 10,000 years of history will do that. But will an Avatar-esque investment into this fictional world, with its own language and secrets, win over fans of the puzzle-based series?

That’s where the Hyperion Myst novels come in, providing plenty of narrative structure that will likely translate better to the screen than the quiet, meditative games. The original game’s story — about familial betrayal, unreliable characters, and book-based portals — might make it as a film, but for the shared universe to work, Myst must look backward. And fans must be along for the ride. As the franchise recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, capitalizing on a re-release of the games could help remind gamers and fantasy fans alike about the legendary and influential series.

Do you want to see a Myst shared universe?

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