Gore Verbinski to Direct Adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Sandkings

There’s a new adaptation of one of George R.R. Martin’s stories in the works—a film based on his acclaimed novelette “Sandkings”. Collider reports that Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski has signed on to helm the film for Netflix.

Martin has noted in the past that there’s been work on an adaptation: in a June post, he included it in a roundup of projects that were in development (along with his stories “The Ice Dragon” and “In the Lost Lands”), as well as the recently revealed adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s Roadmarks. And of course, there are several Westeros projects in the works, including adaptations of his Dunk & Egg stories.

“Sandkings” was originally published in the August 1979 issue of Omni, and would go on to earn Martin the Hugo, Locus, and Nebula awards for Best Novelette the following year.

Set in Martin’s sprawling “Thousand Worlds” connected universe (which includes Nightflyers—which Syfy adapted to television a couple of years ago), the story was intended to kick off a series, although that never materialized. It follows a man named Simon Kress, who comes across a strange pet store called Wo & Shade, which is selling some strange creatures called Sandkings. The creatures live in colonies ruled by a queen, which controls her subjects with telepathy, building elaborate castles, and fighting with their neighbors. Kress buys four colonies, and brings them home.

Kress is told that they’ll grow in size to match their environment, and when he gets bored with their lack of fighting, he begins to instigate them, starving them and providing unequal resources, prompting his colonies to go to war with one another. He begins inviting friends over, who bring their own creatures, and things soon spiral out of control when they escape.

This isn’t the first time that the story has been adapted for a film: in 1995, an adaptation of the story was the first episode of Showtime’s revival of The Outer Limits anthology series, which starred Beau Bridges as Kress.

According to Collider, Verbinski will work with Dennis Kelly (who created the cult classic Utopia), who’s writing the screenplay. On his blog, Martin noted that Kelly is “only now writing the script,” and that this particular project has been in the works for more than a year.

“Many things are developed and only a few are ever filmed, so please remember that… it could be a year or two or three before this comes to Netflix, if indeed it ever does.   But we have a great team on it, so I am hopeful.”

There’s no official announcement from Martin or Netflix, and we don’t know who’ll be cast in the project, or when it’s expected to debut on the streaming platform.

Update, March 11th, 2021: included some additional details from Martin’s blog. 

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