Great news, creepy classics fans! Electronic Artist’s bestselling game American McGee’s Alice is being developed for television. Ted Field’s Radar Pictures has snatched up the rights to the cult favorite game that was released in 2000 (followed by Alice: Madness Returns in 2011).
The third-person action-adventure games are based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. The games give a distinctively spooky twist to the usually zany feel of Wonderland, setting them apart from most other takes on Carroll’s tales. Legions of fans seized upon the unique feel and art style of the series and no doubt hopes will be high that Hayter can bring the same immersive creepiness to TV screens.
McGee’s version of the Alice in Wonderland story begins shortly after Alice returned from her miraculous trip through the looking-glass, with her family’s house burnt down and Alice as the only survivor of the terrible accident. It’s a horrific twist that only gets worse: Alice gets locked up inside a mental institution and slowly wastes away until the White Rabbit summons her back to Wonderland. But this time Wonderland is very different, the world turned gory and chilling. The only chance Alice has to restore her peace of mind and discover more about her parents’ death is to fight her way through Wonderland and free it from the evil powers that have overtaken it. Not a cheerful, colorful tale by any means, but it’s very clear that was never what McGee was going for!
The games have been commended for their respectful portrayal and representation of mental health issues given the time when they were made; Alice was one of the only games at the time that tackled such issues without portraying them negatively. Fans were also pleased to note that the young-adult Alice featured in the games was not sexualized in any way, in either the game or the marketing — a marked departure from the norm in 2000. Alice was seen as a turning point (or the beginning of one) in gaming representation by many.
While not much is known about the new TV adaptation yet, it already has a powerhouse showrunner attached: David Hayter. The writer and producer is well known for his work on X-Men and Watchmen, but many gamers will also recognize him as the original voice of Solid Snake in the English language version of Metal Gear Solid.
As development begins on the drama series, Hayter told The Hollywood Reporter, “[The] American McGee’s Alice and Alice: Madness Returns game series is a groundbreaking reimagining of the classic tale. It takes you into the heart of a corrupted Wonderland and throws light into shadowy corners the world has never seen. I am beyond excited to bring this world of madness and wonder to a global audience.”
With over 23 years of experience in the game industry, American James McGee (Yes, that’s his real name!) has over 30 titles to his name. He began in the early ’90s, developing Quake and DOOM for id Software, before moving on to Alice. He later founded Spicy Horse Games, where he developed Alice: Madness Returns as well as Grimm and Akaneiro: Demon Hunters. More recently, with his latest company Mysterious Inc., McGee is developing the highly anticipated sequel Alice: Asylum and Oz: Adventures, a narrative game based on the classic L. Frank Baum books.
On Hayter’s attachment to the Alice TV project, McGee had the following to say: “David Hayter brings imagination, experience, and stealth sneaking skills gained through successful missions in film, TV, and video games — a unique combination sure to make this adventure into Wonderland a successful one for the franchise and the fans. I am excited to be working with him and know the Alice fans will welcome him with mad affection.”
The show is a collaboration between Radar Pictures, Hayter, and Abandon Entertainment. Hayter will write and produce the series. Anthony Tringali, Maria Frisk, and Michael Napoliello will produce for Radar. Karen Lauder and Marcus Ticotin will produce for Abandon.
The series is executive produced by Radar’s Ted Field, who has racked up worldwide box office grosses topping $8 billion in his three decades in the industry. He has produced more than 60 movies, including the Jumanji franchise, the Riddick franchise, Amityville Horror (2005), The Last Samurai (2003), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003). He is an executive producer on The Wheel of Time, the Amazon Prime Video series based on Robert Jordan’s novels.
Speaking about the upcoming project, Field said, “David Hayter is a writer Radar has long admired who has a deep fanbase in the video game space. His take on American McGee’s Alice was so bold that we felt his vision is a series anyone would have to see.”
American McGee’s Alice was once said to be in development for the big screen, but the project never went anywhere. While the show does not yet have a broadcaster attached, with a name like Hayter involved it seems very reasonable for fans to get their hopes up.