In 2019, Netflix announced that a Magic: The Gathering television series would be coming to the streaming service.
Joe and Anthony Russo of Marvel movie fame will be heading the animated project, and, while it won’t be canon, it will have a ton of familiar characters and the like. The series is supposed to come out some time in 2021, and the budget is supposed to be high, but, thanks to COVID-19, there might be a few changes.
And while that is all well and good, this isn’t Wizards of the Coast’s first time attempting something like this. In fact it’s not even the second. Ever since the turn of the millennium, there has been attempts at making a MTG TV series or motion picture. Things always seemed to fall apart, however.
The first attempt happened in 2001. That year, Mark Rosewater had just gotten off of watching a big miniseries and decided that Magic: The Gathering should have one as well. So he went about writing a screenplay for it. After all, he penned a few episodes of the sitcom Roseanne back in the day.
“My miniseries took place in a world where everyday people dueled with magic,” said Rosewater. “My protagonist came from a white-aligned village and was well steeped in the white-aligned philosophy of magic and style of dueling. During the course of the miniseries, he was forced to venture out and learn about all the colors, completing quests along the way. This led to a final big duel against the man who had killed his father many years before."
“The miniseries ran over three nights and was my attempt to let the audience get a really good understanding of what each of the five colors represented," he continued. "It was also set up to show a lot of the creatures and spells from the game, as well as a lot of dueling with magic.”
However, before Roswater had the opportunity to send it in to the powers that be, it turned out that Magic R&D wasn't really behind it. Plus, a huge international event just happened causing a bit of a recession. Long story short, it wasn’t exactly the best time to continue on. Fair enough.
Attempt noumber two came about seven years later. It's 2008 and Universal was going on a movie spree of existing properties. This included Magic: The Gathering. And while the movie didn’t happen for numerous reasons we previously covered, there was still a shot at a TV series.
However, the second time around the reasons for not progressing are less fun. The housing bubble had recently burst and caused a bit of a recession. Okay, a lot of a recession. Plus this was the pre-streaming days. Network and cable options were cutting back a bit, and there was no Game of Thrones or other big epic TV show of that ilk to compare it to yet.
And here we are: Attempt number three. Once again, a huge international event (COVID-19) has caused a bit of a recession. But unlike 9/11 or the housing collapse, this time around there is a work from home situation that animators can handle.
Based on the last two times, maybe third time is the charm.