To fans, Percy Jackson has been mistreated by Hollywood. The five-book young adult fantasy series arrived in the post-Harry Potter atmosphere in which it seemed any YA series could potentially become its cinematic franchise. But for every Hunger Game that turns Jennifer Lawrence into a star, there are a few Divergents that don’t have quite the cultural impact. Rick Riordan’s world of half-mortal children sired by Olympian gods and their adventures was translated into two films starring Alexandra Daddario, but it didn’t get quite enough welcome to merit the series continuing. Fortunately for Percy Jackson, the various competing streaming platforms are currently scrambling for recognizable intellectual property to turn into original content. And thus Disney+ is rebooting the franchise and has announced the casting of their new trio of stars:
This time around, Percy Jackson will star Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth Chase. Alexandra Daddario previously played the role in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief i(2010) and its 2013 follow-up Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. In the books, Annabeth Chase is the half-mortal daughter of the Greek goddess Athena; at one point, she was a child runaway before arriving at Camp Half-Blood. The central trio in the books spends time at the Long Island summer camp for growing demi-gods, where they train to control their powers while living in secret after a pact by Gods to not sire any more potentially uncontrollable children. In the Disney+ reboot, Percy Jackson himself will be played by Walker Scobell (having been portrayed by Logan Lerman in the previous films) and is the son of the Sea God Poseidon. The final member of the trio is Grover Underwood, who turns out to be a satyr tasked with protecting Percy. Having been previously been played by Brandon T. Jackson, the role will now be played by Aryan Simhadri.
It feels like it has been a while since there has been a dominant YA fantasy series, but it must be hard to differentiate oneself in the wake of the still-limping along Harry Potter phenomenon. The Percy Jackson series was an immediate hit; The Lightning Thief sold over a million copies on its release. The franchise as a whole has sold over 180 million copies and included spin-off series and graphic novel adaptations in addition to the films. With numbers like that, it is unsurprising that Disney+ would decide to give it another go with Percy Jackson.
One of the main criticisms of the previous two films (at least from fandom) was that they had sidelined author Rick Riordan, who has been publicly extremely critical of the adaptions. It seems Disney has learned from its mistakes and Riordan is now involved with the adaptation, including co-writing the pilot episode. The first season will reportedly adapt the same Lightning Thief material as the first film and is currently scheduled to begin filming in June of 2022. Within any luck (and Disney+’s overall good track record on original series), Percy Jackson might be getting his fair due this time around.