Why Rick Riordan Offered to Rewrite the 2010 ‘Percy Jackson’ Movie Script

For fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, May 14 was a good day for you. Author Rick Riordan announced that after months of hard work, Disney+ will produce a television series rebooting the 2010 movie. He noted that it will be a “faithful” adaptation and “of the highest quality.” And what’s different about this adaptation is that Riordan will actually have a lot of say in how it turns out. 

If it wasn’t obvious, he didn’t have that kind of sway in when the films were made. In fact, he offered to rewrite and work on the script. But 20th Century Fox didn’t take him up on the offer. Here’s why he wanted to rework the script: it was “terrible.’

Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, and Logan Lerman at the premiere of 'Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief' on February 4, 2010 in New York City
Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, and Logan Lerman at the premiere of ‘Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief’ on February 4, 2010 in New York City | Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Riordan said that he had little to no input on the film, despite emails that expressed issues with the script 

On Riordan’s website, he wrote a post in 2018 that touched on fans’ adamant desire for a rebooted Percy Jackson series. Whether that was with Netflix, or somewhere else, Riordan let fans know that he’d likely have no input

He explained that the film rights for Percy Jackson “were signed away before the first PJO book was even published.” He also revealed that most authors have a lot less control over an adaptation than readers might think. “Hollywood controls all things and all decisions about the movie,” he wrote. 

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Riordan said he was “indeed consulted at some points,” but ultimately he wasn’t happy with the scripts they gave him. He tried to give feedback, but judging by email accounts he included, the studio and writers didn’t take his advice.

Riordan sent in a very detailed list to producers with notes on the 2010 ‘Percy Jackson’ script starring Logan Lerman

In the post, Riordan shared emails he sent to producers on the Percy Jackson movie in 2009. In them, he told the producers that the “script as a whole is terrible.” He conceded that there were good elements, but it wasn’t good overall. 

For one, he said that the story of Percy Jackson was changed so much it was at the “point of being almost unrecognizable as the same story.” Things change in book adaptations; that’s normal. But other than names and the basic premise, the movie had nothing else in common. Riordan was not shy in telling them this. 

He also, point-blank, told them how fans would react. “Fans of the books will be angry and disappointed,” he wrote. “They will leave the theater in droves and generate horrible word of mouth.” He wasn’t wrong, as a decade later fans want a faithful adaptation. 

He also said that one of the biggest faults the writers made was making the characters 17. Riordan knew that aging the characters up past 16 would “kill” any chance at a franchise, which it ultimately did. It also didn’t allow for the movie to focus around Percy’s prophecy which is. This is, of course, an aspect that’s vital in mythology and Percy’s overall story. 

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Riordan offered to rework the script because he accurately predicted how fans would react

He wrote that even outside of being close to his novel or not, that it didn’t even work as a regular movie. “The plot has been chopped up so thoroughly that it no longer holds together,” Riordan wrote. 

Because of this, Riordan offered to rework the script himself. Even though he listed out the many issues the script had, he could still find ways to make it “palatable to fans and the general movie-going audience.”

The portrayal of Luke was another issue for Riordan. He noted that he was a “sniveling little slimeball” and came across as an obvious villain. Another was Percy and Annabeth’s romance, which wasn’t nuanced and way too obvious in the movie. In the rewrite, he wanted to revamp the dialogue too, which didn’t “sparkle” enough. 

In the end, Riordan suggested to “get another writer who has actually read the book and can make the necessary changes,” but he also wrote that he would only trust himself to do a rewrite “correctly.” 

He also took down the script even further, and write that he didn’t need to be “the Oracle of Delphi” to guess who the fans would react if the script wasn’t fixed. “You will lose the fans of the series 100%, but more importantly the script will fail to impress even regular moviegoers who haven’t read the book,” Riordan wrote. He, of course, was correct.

He wrote in the blog post that, with anything Percy Jackson related in the future, if he’s promoting it online, he’s happy with it. So unlike the 2010 film, which has no place on his site, he’s making green screen videos on his personal social media for the Disney+ series. This is great news for Riordan and fans of the books.

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