George R.R. Martin sues studio for film rights to his werewolf novella

Years ago, a studio began to adapt George R.R. Martin’s story The Skin Trade just to hold onto the option. Now, the Song of Ice and Fire writer is taking them to court.

Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin is headed to court over the production rights to his werewolf horror novella The Skin Trade. Per Deadline, Martin is suing Blackstone Manor, LLC in Los Angeles Superior Court over after the company failed to produce a film based on the novella, arguing that the film rights now revert to him.

Originally published in the 1988 horror anthology Night Visions 5 alongside stories by Stephen King and Dan Simmons, The Skin Trade is one of the last horror stories Martin wrote. It follows a small town detective who discovers werewolves are responsible for a slew of brutal murders.

The story was originally optioned by L.A. production company Mike The Pike Productions in 2009 (before Martin rocketed to fame on the back of HBO’s Game of Thrones), which then sold it to Blackstone. Blackstone began filming an adaptation in 2014, just before the option expired, but it never released anything. Now, Martin is claiming that Blackstone “hastily assembl[ed] a barebones cast and crew” purely to keep the option even though it had no intention of adapting the story.

And that seems pretty obviously correct, no? This isn’t the first time a production studio has tried to pull something like this. For example, in 2015, Red Eagle Production produced a pilot for a Wheel of Time TV show purely so it could hold onto the rights to Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series. Based on the prologue to the first book, the episode was called “The Winter Dragon.” FX ran it in the dead of night as a paid-for infomercial.

Red Eagle obviously made the episode just so they could hold onto the option long enough to negotiate a deal, which they did: Amazon is now making an actual Wheel of Time adaptation, and Red Eagle surely got their cut. But the Skin Trade situation isn’t as favorable for Blackstone, since they never made anything out of the novella. Red Eagle cast Billy Zane in its crappy Wheel of Time thing. Do you have Billy Zane, Blackstone Manor, LLC?

Blackstone has threatened to countersue should Martin choose to produce the film elsewhere. With his Game of Thrones money and with the facts on his side, somehow we think that Martin will come out on top of this one.

And what will he do with the rights if he gets them back? Well, Martin has a development deal with HBO; maybe they’re in the market for a new werewolf show.

Next: Sophie Turner gets Sansa’s Queen-in-the-North throne: “Welcome home”

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