Old Man’s War in Development at Netflix

For those who don’t know, yes, that’s the original of the Old Man’s War cover art. It’s on my office wall. And yes, that’s my hand.

So here’s some lively holiday news: An Old Man’s War movie is currently in development at Netflix. Surprise! Here are the details over at Deadline.com. I’m pretty happy about this.

And now, your questions:

Are you excited?

Hell, yes. One, because I would love to see an OMW movie. But also, two, Netflix is a place where a lot of fantastic entertainment is happening these days. It’s trying a lot of things and taking a lot of chances, and most people I know who are working with Netflix are thrilled about being there right now. It really seems like it could be a great place for the OMW universe.

So is this a movie or TV series?

It’s a movie. On your television!

(Or computer or phone or monitor or wherever you choose to watch Netflix, I don’t judge.)

But can a two to three hour movie truly hold the vastness and complexity of Old Man’s War?

I mean, yeah. It’s a pretty speedy story in that first book. And as to the rest of the universe of the series, if the first OMW movie works and people watch it and like it (hint, hint), we can have sequels. There are six books! We have lots to work with.

Who is going to be in the film? You should get [insert favorite filmmaker/actor here]!

Whoa, there. This is the development announcement, where we announce the studio (Netflix) and the producers (Jon Shestack Productions and Madhouse Entertainment). Now that we’re all on board with making the movie, we’ll start putting all the puzzle pieces together. Don’t worry; when we pick folks, we’ll probably do follow-up announcements.

Hey, wasn’t Old Man’s War in development as a movie, and a TV series, before?

Indeed it was. It was in development at Paramount for a while as a movie, and then at Syfy as a TV series.

What happened?

It just didn’t work out. Both times, really smart folks did a really excellent job and tried to make it happen, but the entertainment industry is what it is, and the stars didn’t align.

But this time will be different!

Well, yes, I hope so. It would be nice. I think we have the studio and producers to make it happen.

How long has this been percolating?

I got the rights to OMW back in the summer. We fielded pitches and offers and then in October, while I was out in California, I had a meeting with the producers. After that it was just waiting on contracts.

Man, lawyers, am I right?

In this case, I’m a big fan of lawyers. Mine (Matt Sugarman) has done very well by me. As has my film/TV agent, Joel Gotler, and my book agent Ethan Ellenberg has been part of this particular brain trust, too. It takes a village to make a good deal.

How involved will you be in the production?

As the article linked above notes, I’m an executive producer on the movie, so I’m pretty substantially involved. Which is nice! I have opinions, you know. I’m going to share them.

So can I have a job?

You’ll have to go through official channels.

You’re an executive producer! You’re an official channel!

Yes, but not that official channel.

Okay, well, can I give you this script of something entirely unrelated?


Hollywood’s changed you, man.

It always does.

So, this is great, but what I really want is a film/TV version of [insert another book/story I wrote here].

I have a number of things in various stages of development, only one other of which (The Collapsing Empire) is currently public knowledge. When/if those other projects get to public knowledge stage, trust me, I’ll be talking about them. Just like this, in fact.

I will say that it’s an exciting time to be me, and that with the projects currently in play, I’m lucky to be working with some incredible people. I feel very fortunate that this gets to be my life. And today, I feel particularly fortunate that we’re working to get this Old Man’s War movie to you.

Arrrrgh I can’t wait HELP ME.

Well, there are the books. And Old Man’s War itself is just newly released in a delightful pocket-sized hardcover edition! Which, by the way, if you order from Jay and Mary’s Book Center through this Sunday, I will happily sign and personalize for you (along with any other book of mine you buy).

I see how you dropped an ad for yourself in there, Scalzi.

Yes, well. I’ve got bills, folks.

I have other questions or comments!

That’s what the comment thread is for. Note I’m on deadline (uuuhh, an actual deadline, not just the entertainment news site), so responses might not be immediate. But I’ll get in there.

86 Comments on “Old Man’s War in Development at Netflix”

  1. Wonderful! Loved all the books and still nagging my hubby to read them – we’ll be sure to watch this on Netflix when it comes out! Congrats!!!

  2. If those Expanse guys can get on TV, I knew you could get a deal! Really this is exciting. Netflix is turning out great material.
    Can you say anything about your other properties that were in development at one time? Weren’t both Redshirts and the Lock In being worked on? I know you can’t divulge details. But we can hope.

  3. Very very cool. I guess I’ll have to keep my Netflix subscription. Be sure to remind them that you have a rabid fan base that will translate to revenue. That should appeal to the bean counters until we can get our OMW fix.

  4. Adam Haar:

    Well, you know. I’m expensive.


    No idea yet, but hopefully reasonably soon.


    As noted in the article, I have stuff being worked on but can’t talk about a lot of it yet.

  5. This is really cool. I think everybody in the hallway is wondering what I am excited about. Congratulations on this movie. Happy when good things happen to good people.

  6. This may be completely out of your hands, or just not what you want to do but–

    Could I put in a vote for a TV-14 rating? I’d love to watch this with my teenage brother (who loves scifi and making stories) but I’d prefer to do that without covering his eyes the whole time. Protective big sister syndrome– it is what it is.

    Also– major congratulations! This is great!

  7. That’s excellent news! Netflix has shown they really understand science and fantasy, and I’m glad that’s who is producing Old Man’s War.

    Can’t wait!

  8. This is exciting news!! I remember that I ran into you in Chicago when I was listening to the second to last book in the series on audiobook. I’m so glad to hear that the first book is getting somewhere with Netflix! Congratulations!

  9. I’m excited! I don’t get TV anymore so do Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime – it would be even better as a six part (or so) series than a movie. I really like that format – they have story arcs that complete but get more complex than a “movie”.

  10. You have opinions? Say it ain’t so!

    Bills? You have a kid in school. Of course you have bills. I assume you gave her a debit card, not a credit card…

  11. Congratulations! This is wonderful!

    The real question though: When production starts, will you get to use your Executive Producer privilege to go on set and play with all the cool props?

  12. I am now demanding that Netflix do an “Old Man’s War” / “Voltron” crossover. DEMANDING IT, I SAY.

  13. Congratulations! This is wonderful!

    Will you get to use your Executive Producer privilege to get a cameo in the movie? Unrelated, your wife should play the part of the lady at the recruiting office on Earth.

  14. So I guess you can’t really binge watch a single movie, but I’m willing to give it a try anyway.

    Congratulations, John. I can’t wait.

  15. I’m Troy, we met in Cleveland this past year at your book signing and I gave you a write up and specs on an MP-35 model I’ve developed and continue to work on.

    Can I make something awesome that may be included and help actually CREATE the universe, rather than the taking the cheap and lazy route of just using a preexisting firearm/prop (like Alien Covenant did with the Stery AUG and M16 series rifle)? I’ve shared the book with so many people I’ve lost track, it would be an honor to be a part of something I love and to see it made great in a new format.

  16. Good news! They’ll try to have the green skin thing only on occasion, force them to go green all the time!

  17. Is it weird that my first thought is whether it will be practical to make the soldiers green?
    I guess maybe for a movie that will be reasonable, compared to needing to do that makeup over and over for a TV show.

  18. Well, this is awesome. Many of your stories would translate well to screen, but I think OMW is particularly well suited. Exciting news!

  19. Okay, you are the executive producer. In the credits I see executive producers, associated producers, assistant producers, and producers. Just what do each of these people do and where do they sit on the totem pole? This might make a nice blog post. Something like the one on how you get paid for a book.

    Other than that, Congratulations! Hope you get a few more TV/movie deals that actually come to fruition.

  20. It isn’t easy being green. This consoles me after the Dark Matter cancellation.

  21. Yey! Looking forward to this.
    So You’re going to be an executive producer…
    let us know if you figure out what the 2nd 2nd assistant director does.

  22. Congratulations! Very exciting. I do weep for Deadline’s copy editing: did it hurt when Joel and Matt “reprped” you?

  23. Will the Old. An’s War Netflix production be released before your wonderful daughter gets a PhD (keep in mind she finished high school quickly in your calculations).

  24. I misread this at first and thought it was announcing the actual movie. Oops on my part. But still: congratulations! It is a big deal and very happymaking.

    I look forward to seeing you in a tux at the Emmys.

  25. Joe Clement:

    Executive producers generally come in two stripes:

    a) Involved in the production of project but not the nitty-gritty, day to day stuff;
    b) Courtesy title.

    Mine on this is more of an a) sort.

    Simon Hamelin:

    I’ve typically handled my own game negotiations, and for any future ones I would bring in my lawyer.

  26. Seconding John doing a Stan Lee cameo, and Krissy as the recruiting lady. Or any part, really. I just wanna squee.

  27. I know you’re not the director but will you do something Hitchcockian and make some kind of cameo? That would be cool!

  28. This is very exciting. Netflix is really knocking it out of the park with their original content – watch Godless if you have not yet seen it. It is fantastic. I do wish that the deal was for a limited series instead of a movie so that the story could be fully explored without the inevitable cuts, but it will be wonderful to see the OMW universe come to life.

  29. cupertinojay:

    With all due respect to KKR, my experience with agents has been uniformly positive, and they get me far more work than I would be able to get myself.

  30. This is Awesome. just a thought – would be great to see this more as a 6 or 7 episode series for each book. I’m sure there is some stuff you have that didn’t make it into the books.

  31. Congratulations, Mr. Scalzi! I personally can’t wait to see it, as it has become one of my favorite novels…and hopefully there WILL be sequels, spinoffs and all that jazz. I really think Netflix might have been the best place for this story, as, from what I have seen so far from them, they are open to letting filmmakers make the films THEY want with little interference or “guidance”. Also, just sayin, I will be 1st in line to buy a John Perry action figure!

  32. That’s great! Looking forward to it. Hope it makes it through the development process this time.

  33. Congratulations and I hope this time it sticks vs Paramount and SyFy. I for one would love to see this followed up by a series on the adventures of team B.

  34. One of my cherished writing moments was you telling me about the first option at Confluence. So glad that it’s finally going to be made, John. Two thumbs way up.

  35. Congratulations and good luck, John. I hope it gets made and sells a ton of your other books.

  36. Congrats! Really happy for you! And also for me! As I can not wait to see your work come to liiife! Exclamation points! VERY exclamation points!!

  37. While I would love to see it I’m not going to get excited yet. I’m happy you got another option check but until I start to see previews…
    I am going to risk the mallet and go off topic. Did you meet the deadline? Is the new book done? The radio silence on this subject is killing me. This is something I could get excited about now.

  38. John, with this being put on Netflix, how much of chapter six will make it on camera? How much bonding will the “old farts” get to do?

  39. Hot damn! A bunch of Olympic athletes in green face making out. You plan on knocking GoT off the top of the heap? On syfy you would never be able to do this.

  40. I’m very excited!

    Can I make a plea to have the cast be MORE Than 50% female/non-binary and non-whites? Including/Especially the extras/background people.

    [I’m negotiating here, I really would love it to be more than 50%, but would be inordinately pleased with equal.]

  41. This is great news! I love that series and I can see that Old Man’s War would make a truly great movie. And most of all, I like liberal feminist anti-fascist people getting rich! We need more rich people like that.
    So to you and your family, get rich in good health!

  42. I’m excited :-) I’m not getting my hopes up at this early stage, but I always thought the OMW series had a solid cinematic feel to it; the kind of thing that translates well. Another of my favorite books (Altered Carbon) is getting the same treatment from Netflix as we speak, and if that one pans out THEN I’m reaaaalllly going to get my hopes up for Old Man’s War.

    Also, I’m relieved to see that you’re involved at a creative level – means there’s a fair chance the end result will live up to the book, instead of being an “in name only” version.

  43. Green face, blue face… if they can have Gamora and green Orion women relatively painlessly, a squad or two of green supersoldiers ought to be no problem.

  44. Wasn’t there a Redshirts show/movie in the works at one point? Did that fall through and I missed the memo?

  45. Congrats!!! I love your books. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE be very involved in the casting. Another of my fav authors – Bill Bryson – had his best story, A Walk in the Woods, mutilated! The characters in the book were in their mid 40’s at worst, but ego-maniac Robert Redford had to play the character himself – he’s 81. The story isn’t the same when an 81 year old is pretending to be a 40 year old. —-Humm, just had a thought, maybe Robert Redford could play John Perry, though……

  46. @TheMadLibrarian — Keeping the makeup from smearing or rubbing off during Chapter 6 could be an issue. Facial and hand/arm makeup and the rest of the actor in uniform doesn’t take nearly as much fixative.

  47. Dear Leah and MadLibrarian,

    Nah, today you do it in post-production CGI. No makeup to get smeared!

    But… “… green Orion women relatively painlessly…” ? Oh my, no!

    Each evening, Star Trek production would send the day’s footage off to a photo lab to be developed and printed overnight, so they could view the “dailies” the next morning. (This was back in the dark ages, when quality stuff was shot on film — cameras were coal-fired and you had to walk 5 miles to Paramount… uphill … both ways … through the snow! Because there was no such thing as global warming back then and Southern California was a frigid wasteland.)

    The dailies for the Orion woman scenes in the bar came back way too pink. Something had screwed up. So they added green filtration to the camera and reshot. The next day, the dailies came back even more magenta.


    Back-and-forth. The folks at both ST and the lab were absolutely convinced that the other side was populated by incompetent boobs.

    It took a while for them to figure out the problem.

    Nobody had bothered to inform the color technicians at the lab that the woman was SUPPOSED to be green! So they were doing their damnedest to bring the “screwed up” color balance back to normal, by dialing in magenta. At the same time that the filmers at ST were adding in green to fix the lab’s corrections.

    Much hilarity ensued.

    Not really.

    CGI makes life so much simpler.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 

  48. Congratulations! I’m so excited to hear that. Also, when will he hear more about Redshirts?

  49. Perhaps you’ll get to do a little cameo, at least as a background extra…
    or maybe in the background on Earth we see you, Krissy and Athena quietly taping bacon on to the scamperbeasts…

  50. Congrats, John, I’m so happy to read that! Netflix really does have some awesome original programming and I’m glad that you’ll be part of that!

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