Television's newest star may be a sword-carrying, elf-like hero who must fight off the forces of evil alongside a powerful princess.
Sounds like something out of "The Hobbit," but no. It's the recurring plotline of The Legend of Zelda, an iconic Nintendo video game franchise that Netflix is in the early stages of developing into a live-action television series, according to a report Friday from The Wall Street Journal. Steeped in mythology and magic, the Zelda series' main character, named Link, lives in a fantasy universe called Hyrule where he and Princess Zelda combat the villain Ganon.
The streaming service is even describing the show as a more family-friendly take on HBO's "Game of Thrones," the report said, as the ultra-violent medieval drama and the Zelda series share some fantasy elements. Japanese game giant and Zelda developer Nintendo, which is currently creating the next game title in the series due out later this year for its Wii U game console, is said to be working closely with Netflix on the project.
A Netflix spokesperson said the company does not comment on rumors or speculation. Nintendo was not immediately available for comment.
The Legend of Zelda is among the best-known and successful game franchises ever. It debuted in the US in 1987 and has enjoyed more than 20 releases spanning three decades. Actor and comedian Robin Williams named his daughter Zelda after the game's titular princess, talk show host Jimmy Fallon has called it his favorite video game and game reviewers and developers consider its various installments to be among the best games ever made.
Yet Nintendo's track record outside games range from mediocre to disastrous. The company has put its name on a few animated television shows that remain footnotes in its corporate history, while a live-action Super Mario Bros. film in 1993 bombed at the box office and was widely panned by critics.
A Zelda series gives Netflix another opportunity to build its reputation for original television programming. The company blazed the trail for tech companies that produce original programs, and has won Emmys for political drama "House of Cards" and prison comedy series "Orange Is the New Black." Amazon, Hulu, Yahoo and AOL are now producing their own original shows.