Netflix is greenlighting a lot of television shows, but the biggest surprise is the reported deal with Nintendo for "The Legend of Zelda" live-action television program. The network's also ordered a first season of Baz Luhrmann's gritty take on 1970s New York City in "The Get Down."
Nintendo's popular game series "The Legend of Zelda" may end up as a live-action series on Netflix, reports The Wall Street Journal.
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A source tells the paper that Link, an ordinary boy, must rescue Princess Zelda in the fantasy world Hyrule. Still seeking a writer on the project, Netflix is looking for someone to create a tamer, family friendly version of “Game of Thrones.” Typically lighter, more adventure and less gory death, there might be a slight confusion on the difference of swords and sorcery between the two visual media properties.
And Nintendo is said to be working closely with the network.
In 1989, an animated “Legend of Zelda” television series ran for a single season. The previous year saw the Nintendo Cereal System hit supermarket shelves, based on popular games “Super Mario Bros.” and “The Legend of Zelda.” The cereal box was divided in half and the “Zelda” side featured Links, hearts, boomerangs, keys, and shields found in the actual game. Children of the 1980s, rejoice. Not everyone has forgotten.
Originally premiering in 1986, the “Zelda” series now has 17 official games and several spin-offs already. And later this year, the 18th installment of “The Legend of Zelda” will appear on shelves. Made for the Wii U and featuring high-definition graphics, rumors indicate an open world that allows players to approach areas in different ways.
So if the television series turns out to be true, then the 2016 show would be a great marketing tie-in. Like the cereal.
If the show survives. Either company could hit the kill-switch before the program takes off. Neither Netflix nor Nintendo offered a confirmation to the Journal, but that didn’t stop fans from casting. And The Verge offered up some interesting choices for the two leads. A-list busy or not.
Placing “Game of Thrones” actor Maisie Williams as a young Link, the site pointed out she’s “already brilliant at playing youths fighting their way through high fantasy worlds” and “it doesn't matter either way” if Zelda’s love interest is a boy or girl. When running through a fantasy world to save a princess, does the love interest gender really matter?
So what about a grown up Link, then? Staying with the “Game of Thrones” cast, Natalie Dormer is the go-to “badass” woman. While never seeing the actress swing a sword, there’s something about “The Tudors” star that “just has the kind of presence where you don't want to mess with her.”
Playing alongside Williams would be “Annie” star Quvenzhané Wallis, who has already proven she can play “a smart, resourceful, and funny Zelda” as Hushpuppy in 2012’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Adult Zelda would be portrayed by “Misfits” star Antonia Thomas. The actress is “strong, smart, and has something of a regal aura about her” that would help create a “pretty excellent Princess Zelda, and an even more brilliant Sheik when it came down to it.”
If the show premieres, the launch of Netflix in Japan this fall would definitely bolster the stronghold, in addition to anticipated Marvel properties. “With its rich culture and celebrated creative traditions, Japan is a critical component of our plan to connect people around the world to stories they love,” said CEO Reed Hastings.
"As we expand into Asia, we're excited Netflix members increasingly will have access to some of their favorite movies and TV shows no matter where they are."
Opening a regional office in Tokyo would provide a closer working tie to the gaming giant, as well, and give better access for Nintendo should anything disrupt the business deal. Like really bad scriptwriting. No one mentions the 1993 “Super Mario Bros.” film for a reason.
But it’s not just Nintendo that maybe looking for more exposure in the current, online streaming world.
As the Netflix grows, more and more live action and original programming are finding greenlights outside of the Marvel deal. Last month, Aziz Ansari announced that his special at Madison Square Garden would only air on the network on Friday, March 6 at 12:01am PT. His first original stand-up special, “Buried Alive,” currently streams around the world.
And the network already owns critical and award-winning darlings “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards," which premieres on February 27.
Just this week, Baz Luhrmann's "The Get Down," a series about a "rag-tag crew of South Bronx teenagers are nothings and nobodies with no one to shelter them" in the broken down and crumbling New York City of the 1970s, was given a go with one-hour, 13-episode first season. The show will feature how teenagers redefined the city as Studio 54 and CBGBs joined hip-hop and punk music on the edge of fever.
Speaking of the show’s potential success, Luhrmann reiterated the importance of the content provider. "In this golden era of TV, the Netflix culture puts no constraint on creative possibilities." Meaning if someone wanted to create a live-action version of Link searching for Princess Zelda, Netflix is willing to take the creative risks that other networks may not find viable.
Pointing out “The Get Down” was 10 years in the making, the director also wanted to offer up the forgotten truths of the time, too. “Throughout, I've been obsessed with the idea of how a city in its lowest moment, forgotten and half destroyed could give birth to such creativity and originality in music, art and culture.”
Sony Pictures Television will be partnering with the “Moulin Rouge” producer and Netflix as well.
"Baz is an artist in the truest sense, whose talent and vision resonate across mediums.” Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht praised the creator.
“There is no better filmmaker and storyteller to draw us into this world of the forgotten and oppressed residents of the Bronx who rose up and fought back to create and define culture and music for decades to come.”
Cindy Holland, vice president of original content for Netflix, agreed. “From his very first and magnificently original steps on the world stage with Strictly Ballroom to his most recent with The Great Gatsby, Baz conjures worlds we may not recognize initially, but once there, realize they are infused with the same dreams of every person - to belong, to matter, to live life to its fullest.”
Netflix is looking to compete with networks like heavy-hitters HBO and Showtime, and seems to be succeeding. Courting “Zelda,” if true, and Baz Luhrmann puts the onus on the cable networks to keep up with streaming shows. Amazon’s started to gain traction and YouTube’s featured original programming for years, but Netflix is still the company to beat. Earning a deal with Nintendo just might seal a pretty unstoppable deal.
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