In partnership with Kadokawa, independent production company Skydance Television have announced their acquisition of the global live-action rights to the Sword Art Online franchise. They now want to fast-track the launch of a new franchise, by developing and producing the first ever live-action series based on Reki Kawahara’s VRMMORPG sci-fi light novels.

Laeta Kalogridis, producer of James Cameron’s Avatar, is writing the script for a pilot episode and executive producing alongside David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross of Skydance. Kawahara, Kalogridis and Skydance Media CEO Ellison all had their own comments to add to a statement concerning the new show “based on the storyline of the original series.”

Kawahara said, “I am excited and moved that ‘Sword Art Online’ will be adapted into a live action series by the highly respected Skydance Media. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude to everyone involved in this project, and to the fans all over the world who have so generously and enthusiastically supported SAO.”

Besides writing the screenplay for Shutter Island, Kalogridis has previously penned drafts for the Cameron-produced Alita: Battle Angel and DreamWorks’ Ghost in the Shell live-action, and added that she has “for years… been inspired by the inventive and masterful storytelling of the SAO franchise.” Skydance are also planning a virtual reality experience to be released after the TV series, as part of “a full-scale and wide-ranging set of live action franchise extensions across our business verticals,” according to Ellison. “At Skydance,” he said, “we are in the business of world-building.”

Skydance’s TV show will follow “a brilliant young beta tester Kirito and his group of friends when they are trapped — alongside 10,000 other people — in a next-generation virtual reality online role-playing game. The game is a world unto itself: filled with sword fighting, monsters, magic and mystery, where the stakes are life and death. Kirito and an ensemble of diverse characters must fight their way through this hostile environment while making lives for themselves in the fantastical world that is Sword Art Online.”

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