Is 'The Swarm' replacing 'Game of Thrones'?

AFP . Cannes | Update:

Emilia Clarke poses at the premiere of the final season of `Game of Thrones` at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Photo: ReutersThe executive producer of "Game of Thrones" said Monday he is making a new big budget TV series based on the eco-disaster bestseller "The Swarm".

Frank Doelger, who won five Emmys for the swords and dragons epic whose final season screens next week, said it is a chilling story of an "epic ecological disaster" in which "the oceans and their inhabitants" turn on mankind and exact revenge for the damage we have done to the planet.

He showed a chilling animated mock-up of one of the key early scenes from the series at MIPTV, the world's top TV and streaming market in the French Riviera resort of Cannes.

It showed how a group of "Humpback and Orca whales go kamikaze and attack a group of whalewatchers" off Canada in a scene that made "Jaws" look like a Sunday school picnic.

In the book, a tsunami in the North Sea devastates parts of northern Europe and leaves millions dead as scientists struggle to figure out a series of freak events in the world's oceans.

Even those living far from the sea may not be safe from the avenging wrath of the creatures of the sea, Doelger hinted.

"One of the ideas that we are working on is that the attacks start along the coast but eventually this intelligent life force will figure out a way to penetrate to the interior. It will be nature's revenge for the environmental crimes and atrocities we have committed."

Like "Game of Thrones", the show will rely heavily on special effects, he said, with new techniques allowing filmmakers to shoot "dry for wet" with so much action taking place in the sea.

Doelger revealed that the book's German author Frank Schatzing "has given us outlines for a second, third and possibly fourth series", with the first season likely to hit screens in 2021.

He described "The Swarm" as a scientific detective story.

"Frank wrote the book in 2003 and 2004 and unfortunately a lot of the things that he predicted and fantasised about the state of the world's oceans, and what mankind has done to them, have proved all too true."

No diatribe
Doelger said the strength of the book was that it wasn't preachy. "No one is ever giving a speech about environmental damage. That is something the scientists have been dealing with for decades and doesn't need to be discussed. We did not want to make it into a documentary or a diatribe against those crimes."

"It is an incredible journey with an extraordinary end," he added.

Alan Taylor, who directed key episodes of "The Sopranos", "Mad Men" and "Boardwalk Empire" will make half of the first eight-part season.

He said the story "really functions at an emotional level and is hugely relevant to what we are wrestling with today. It has the structure of a thriller that builds and builds towards an ending that I find thrilling, devastating and transcendant at the same time."

The show -- whose producers say is likely to be the most expensive European production ever -- is being backed by the German broadcaster ZDF, but US and other European channels are also getting on board.

"It is too big for just one," said producer Eric Welbers, who said that the main parts of the story will be set in Scandinavia, Canada and Shanghai.

Schatzing's book, which has been translated into 25 languages, was a "truly global phenomenon", he added.

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