Adapt This Now: Imajica

Imajica artNot every great story has yet been turned into a TV series or movie. Adapt This Now is a series where we highlight some of our favorite tales that Hollywood has yet to adapt — books, comics, videogames, etc. — and suggest that they get on that pronto.

The should-be source material: Imajica, Clive Barker’s mammoth 1991 fantasy novel.

The story in a nutshell: The universe consists of five dominions — four fantastical and varied realms that are magically connected and the fifth, Earth, which was separated from the others long ago. After foiling an assassination attempt on a beautiful woman, an artist named Gentile embarks on an epic, spiritual quest to reunite Earth with its brothers and repair the “Imajica.” Journeying across all five dominions, Gentile falls in love with an androgynous shape shifter, learns he has a secret past he’s long forgotten, and squares off against God himself.

Why Hollywood needs to adapt this ASAP: When Imajica was first published, there was zero chance anyone would try to turn it into a movie. It was too weird and straddled too many genres. It featured exotic worlds that would be tough to realize in the pre and early-CGI eras. It had way too much sex. Even Barker himself has said that adapting it would likely be impossible.

That was then. Now we live in a world where HBO’s Game of Thrones is a massive hit and AMC is adapting Preacher into a TV show. I’ve always thought it a shame that while a lot of Barker’s horror work has been adapted for screens both big and small, his fantasy offerings — arguably his best stuff — have remained untouched. Attempts have been made a few times here and there, most notably with Weaveworld and The Thief of Always, but the projects always fell apart.

Imajica is better than both of those books. It’s full of vibrant characters and features more than one genuinely surprising plot twist. And the whole thing is built around a somewhat standard “quest” structure that would provide a good backbone for any attempted adaptation. Yeah, the story will need pared down; the book clocks in at an intimidating 800+ pages. But the tale is stuffed with enough magic, monsters and political intrigue to carve out a feature film or TV miniseries that could appeal to the Game of Thrones crowd.

Barker is one of the most imaginative storytellers out there, and Imajica was written when he was at the height of his powers. Everybody loves a fully realized fantasy world, and Imajica contains no less than four of them, all with their own distinct look and inhabitants. And that showdown with God, who first appears as a giant sentient city, would make for a hell of a final-act set piece.

Imajica wouldn’t be an easy adaptation, but it would be a ballsy and potentially genre-expanding one. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t mind seeing Alfonso Cuarón spearheading it. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban proved the guy has a knack for fantasy adaptations.

And, hey, if it works, Hollywood can film Weaveworld next.

  • The world needs more visualized Clive Barker.

  • Mike Arsenault

    Oh man the Cuaron suggestion is stellar! PoA was my fav out of all of the HP bits and its mostly to do with the bits he added in that felt like they belonged in that universe even though they weren’t in the book.

    • Azkaban’s my second favorite Potter film (after Order of the Phoenix), but there’s no doubt Cuaron sort of provided the template on how to properly adapt those books. I’d trust that man with almost anything and DEFINITELY with a Barker fantasy epic that would need some alterations to work on either the big or small screen.