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I'm curious if there have been, or currently are, plans to make a movie from one of Jack Vance's stories, and what the status of such plans are?

  • There was a radio serial made of Moon Moth on the now dead Seeing Ear Theatre. It was excellent, and if you know the story of moon moth, a radio play is a hilarious and trippy idea. – Broklynite Jan 8 '16 at 21:28
  • I felt that my answer to this one was pretty convincing, in light of the response from Vance's son. Is there anything else you'd like me to add before considering an acceptance? – Valorum Jul 2 '16 at 11:34
  • There's a French comicbook version of tschai. If nothing else it'll have to do... – Cees May 26 '18 at 18:52
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UPDATE: I spoke to my good friend John Vance a couple of days ago (his details are available on the official Jack Vance website).

I'm sure he won't mind me mentioning that the Demon Princes stories are currently under option for an upcoming TV pilot and that we've all to keep our fingers crossed.


Several of Vance's works have been made into films:

There was also a made-for-TV thriller:

and he screenwrote various episodes of Captain Video


As regards future works, from reading his fan pages as well as his own publisher's website, although numerous of his works have been optioned by Hollywood, there are no current plans to make any of them into films at this moment.

  • Interesting information, but I'm wondering if the question was referring more to Vance's science fiction or fantasy stories. With all the sff being rushed into production after the success of 'Game of Thrones', Jack Vance's books would be a welcome addition. – ImaginaryEvents Nov 18 '14 at 20:25
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    My understanding is that he sold numerous "rights" during his lifetime and later life but that none of them have yet been taken forward. His work is pretty dense and my guess is that none of the major studios are willing to convert his books (some of which are now 50+ years old) into high-budget films when more than 90% of the cash in Hollywood is being poured into young-adult fantasy movies, sequels/reboots of existing films and comic-book properties. – Valorum Nov 18 '14 at 20:27
  • It also may be that a lot of his protagonists are not exactly... personable. But the Lyonesse trilogy (for fantasy) and the Gaean Reach setting (for sf) could work in today's long-form market. – ImaginaryEvents Nov 18 '14 at 20:37
  • @ImaginaryEvents - I just don't see it happening. Maybe thirty years ago but not in today's risk-averse climate. Look at the havok John Carter has caused to Disney. – Valorum Nov 18 '14 at 20:54
  • Ah, very interesting, I believe those are films based on his mystery/detective novels? Which is cool, but yes as someone mentioned I am more interested in his sci-fi/fantasy. I would love to see a film of any number of his books, or a trilogy of films based on Cadwal Chronicles or Lyonesse. – Michael Martinez Nov 18 '14 at 23:12
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There definitely have been discussions over the film production of Vance's science fiction and fantasy work, including with Lucasfilm, as is evidenced in an interview given by original trilogy Star Wars storyboard artist David Russell to The Movie Blog in 2012.

Like the hundreds of other artists who were dying to work on Jedi, I was unable to get past the Lucasfilm front office. I happened to mention my problem to a good friend Jack Vance, a noted science fiction writer. It turned out that he was currently negotiating with Lucasfilm over the rights to one of his novels. Jack kindly suggested that I fly to Oakland, and he’d put a call into Lucasfilm to discuss his business, and afterwards hand the phone to me. Lacking any other option, I did as he suggested, and, probably out of consideration for Jack, ILM visual effects supervisor Joe Johnston agreed to an interview. However, he was impressed with my work—and so was Lucas, because shortly thereafter I was hired as a storyboard artist on Return of the Jedi! It was certainly a magic moment.

This was around the time of the publication of The Book of Dreams, the last in Vance's Demon Princes series, which was a rollicking space opera, and just the kind of thing Lucas might have been interested in (although anything that Vance had written up to that point could also have been a possibility).

There's no indication that work is in progress on any contemporary film adaptations of Vance's work (sadly).

  • Cool citation. Man, I'm really kicking myself that I didn't go out to Oakland last year to meet Jack Vance, as I live here in Sunnyvale which is not far from there. I had talked to his son on the phone, and his son had extended me an invitation to go to his house and meet him. I kept postponing the drive, and then, sadly, Jack Vance passed away a few months later. – Michael Martinez Nov 19 '14 at 0:24
  • A real shame - I hear he was a great host. He was my hero growing up. I'm a writer now, and he definitely gets the credit (blame?) for that. – Cugel Nov 19 '14 at 0:36
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    How do we know you really feel that way, @Cugel? ;) – Lexible Nov 19 '14 at 1:45
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Sadly, most modern science-fiction movies are now about battles and CGI effects or, should I say, "big" battles with "big" CGI effects (Avatar...) and this, even when the original material was not necessarily about this stuff (think about the last two Star Trek movies). This has become a necessity in order to become a blockbuster and covert the basic costs of making the movie and make a profit.

The movie about John Carter has go south because, while it was a movie with battles, these battles where only small battles, without any big, very big explosions. Other movies like Waterworld or The Factor where even worse in that regard and therefore, have sunk miserably at the market.

Most of Jack Vance's works are based on small battles and therefore - while making great literature - are not suited to be transposed as big battles with big explosions on the screen and therefore are likely to fail as possible blockbusters. You could say the same about the work of David Brin and of many other science-fictions writers.

A possible exception could be David Weber's Honor-verse. However, the problem in this case is that beside the fact that any of the books in this serie is about battles, there is no story behind that to put on the screen.

  • Oh, the Honor series has more than enough hooks. The Pavel Young character would be the bete noir, of course. Start with her first posting and keep the officers she forms into a team which remains constant in subsequent movies. Make her an ex-fighter jock with a penchant for sneaking off in small boats to get some kills. You know, the usual drill. – WhatRoughBeast May 27 '18 at 1:57

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