Sword Art Online first became big in Japan as a series of “light novels” in 2009, and then as an anime series in 2012, where it started picking up some support in North America. Now it appears the franchise will appear in a totally new form: as a live-action television series.
Skydance Media has acquired the TV rights for Sword Art Online and is fast-tracking production on the series. It may go beyond television as well. Skydance CEO David Ellison said the company is looking to “launch a full-scale and wide-ranging set of live action franchise extensions across our business verticals.”
In the original novels written by Reki Kawahara, Sword Art Online tells the story of Kirito, a young boy who finds himself trapped in a virtual reality massively multiplayer game. In order to escape from this virtual world, Kirito has to navigate the politics of various groups of players trapped there and work his way through an increasingly dangerous series of challenges.
The pilot for the Sword Art Online television series is being written by Laeta Kalogridis, whose previous work includes Terminator Genisys, Shutter Island and Scream 3. Skydance Media has previously had co-production credits on films such as Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, World War Z, and the just-released Star Trek Beyond.
Sword Art Online has also made its way into video games. Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment came out in North America for Vita in 2014 and for PlayStation 4 last year. A follow-up, Sword Art Online: Lost Song, was released for Vita and PlayStation 4 in November 2015. A third game, Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, is planned for release this fall.